Our oldest son slept over at at friend's house last night.
This morning, I only just realized that I have been waiting for him to get up and come and touch base with me, because that is what we do most mornings.
When I pick him up today, close to lunchtime, he will likely be surprised to find out that his youngest sister missed him very much last night. Even going so far as to write him a letter to tell him so and to apologize for the times that she has made it hard for him to look after her.
I made a concerted effort to make last night special for the three kids who stayed home. Particularly for our oldest daughter.
One thing that came out of her counselling session on Tuesday was that she has suffered the loss of two things in the last year and a half. The first and most obvious is about the changes in our family structure and trying to figure out how she fits in now - the other is the loss of her friends.
For years, she and her brother would hang out with the same kids, all of them boys, and talk and play and run and share birthdays. Usually she was the only girl, but that just didn't seem to matter to any of them.
Until the boys started growing older and their interests started changing and their awareness of girls as being different and other began to increase.
It wasn't helped by one of the other mothers also making it clear that it wasn't appropriate to have a girl over for visits or birthday parties now either.
I just didn't get how hard that has been.
What a loss it is for my daughter.
Because the boys are all still around, they haven't disappeared or anything, they still call and come over - only now it is for my son, only.
I can't fix it.
But I can honour it and recognize it and validate how she feels.
And when her brother is invited to a birthday sleepover that a year and a half ago would have also, naturally, included my oldest daughter...
...we get a movie and chips and pop and ice cream and eat our dinner in the living room and make it special here.
Last night, she really did well, and I think she really did enjoy the time.
Before bed, she looked straight at me and told me how she hated that she didn't exist for them anymore that she wasn't invited, that she really, really hated it...
but that the movie and everything else was really, really nice.
"Thank you Mom, for this."
Oh baby, you are so welcome.