By: Ragan Love
I moved away from Colorado for the first time in September. I talk to my family pretty often, so I didn’t think it would be that hard to adjust to home life when I went back for the holidays. It was actually more difficult than I expected.
I come from a family of three: my dad, my little brother and me. When high school ended, I started working full time at a restaurant and came home to clean and cook dinner for my family. This became the norm for my family, and when I left for school in September, they didn’t realize how much they depended on me. When I talked to them after the first month, they hadn’t eaten a home-cooked meal, checked the mail, or vacuumed the living room. It got to the point where the mailman actually put a box on the porch filled with all the mail. This is when it really hit all three of us life had changed. I began to jokingly text them reminders to do their chores, and by November, they were actually doing them.
When I got home after the fall quarter I felt like I was a guest in my own house. All of my old tasks now belonged to my brother or dad. If I wanted to clean anything my father would stop me because he didn’t want me having to clean where I wasn’t living anymore. When I wanted to cook dinner, my dad told me that he already had a plan for our dinner. One moment that really stuck out to me is my second night home when we were planning to have ramen for dinner. I came into the kitchen to help but my dad and brother had everything covered; there was nothing for me to do. That was the first time that I hadn’t helped with our family dinner, and it made me feel like a stranger.
I was warned how different it would be coming home for the first time after starting college, but I didn’t expect that I would feel like my family didn’t need me anymore. I thought that this is how my dad would feel, not me. It wasn’t all negative. I had moments that made me happy to be back home. I am pretty close to my little brother and during break he was constantly asking for help on college applications and told me how he was happy that I was home. We got to chill out and talk about everything that’s been happening without one of us cutting out on FaceTime.
I think I shouldn’t have expected my household to be the same after leaving for four months. It wasn’t just hard for me. My brother and dad also had to adjust to my absence. My brother is heading off to school in the fall, and our family dynamic will change again once we are both out of the house. Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I now view this transition as a chance for all three of us to grow and be our own people.