Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: I Still Need Four #SOL18 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: I Still Need Four #SOL18 #TWTBlog

“It’s ok.  You’ll only need three.”

I immediately start crying and my sixteen-year-old son knows he is in over his head.

I know he is trying to be helpful, thoughtful even.  I know he understands the meaning of that plate to me.  It was my mom’s.  I always use them at Easter.  It is now broken.  In so many ways, it cannot be replaced.

Seems logical for him to point out that next year we will be a family of three with my other son off to college – I will only need three.

“I’ll clean it up.”

 He heads to get the broom –anything to get out of the situation he now realizes he has created.

He returns and begins to sweep.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I know.  It’s ok.”

“But he is leaving.”

I look up and realize I am not the only one who is thinking about this impending change in our family.  I am so focused on how his words impacted me that I did not stop to think about how these words rolled off his tongue so quickly.  It is a change in our family – a change for all of us.

What will it mean to be a family of three?

How will traditions change?

How will we stay connected?

How will our relationships evolve?

What will this next stage of our lives be?

Do I need four plates?

Later that evening he found me in my office.  He showed me a replacement he ordered from a vintage website.  It will arrive in a week.  I think we both know that life is changing, but we still need four plates.


Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year

  • Avatar
    Amy Rudd
    Posted at 13:36h, 04 March Reply

    I can identify with this slice in so many ways-
    Things that were…
    Things that will be…
    Life surely does move on but when the change is such a big one it brings on more worries. Thinking of you.
    Capturing this small moment brought tears to my eyes.
    Mom’s broken plate
    Loss- from four to three…a big change. Missing what we cherish each day…

  • Avatar
    Kelli Hays
    Posted at 13:47h, 04 March Reply

    Oh man. I have been where you are–and it is hard. My friends made it look easy when the reality is– it is one of the hardest mom things ever.


    Stay the course.

    Enjoy today.

    (And keep that vintage website handy–someday you’ll need more plates because they will come home again and might even bring that special ‘one’ with them!)

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 14:07h, 04 March Reply

    You have such good kids! I love Kelli’s comment that you’ll need more than four at some point!

    Things change, but like the rest of the changes, they’re good. In a lot of ways I feel closer to the girls because they recognize their home and roots and they recognize and appreciate things like those vintage plates (and all they represent) even more.

  • Avatar
    Mindi Rench
    Posted at 14:11h, 04 March Reply

    We are just beginning the college search process, and yesterday it hit me full in the face. We were at a college search workshop put on by our high school, and my emotions were right there at the surface. My daughter will have her 18th birthday after moving into her college dorm in August of 2019, and I just want to slow down time.

    Thank you for posting this today. It helps to read the experience of others.

  • Avatar
    Lynne R Dorfman
    Posted at 14:27h, 04 March Reply

    So powerful, Clare. I got a little teary-eyed myself. You shared so much about your family. Your son is amazing! One day there will be grandkids…even great-grandkids. You’ll need more plates!

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 16:47h, 04 March Reply

    I just read Lynne’s comment. I was about to say the same thing! I guess that’s why Lynne and I work so well together.
    Plates aside, though, more is going on here than the loss of the plate. The plate is a reminder of other things lost: your mom’s physical presence, your boys’ childhoods, yourself as a young mom…
    Memories are what’s left to us and memories sustain us.
    Did you see Coco? I brought the youngest grandkids to see it. I was blown away when the 7-year-old said to his brothers, “When someone dies, they’re not really gone if we remember them.” I teared up when he said it.

  • Avatar
    Karen Szymusiak
    Posted at 17:36h, 04 March Reply

    Tears, Clare. Your writing brings me tears. Your words go straight to my heart. We carry so much in our hearts. And yes, what an amazing son you have.

  • Avatar
    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 17:47h, 04 March Reply

    I always find it intriguing how something so unrelated – like a dish breaking – can be the impetus for the emotions to break down.
    Take heart in knowing you are not alone. Senior year is filled with so many opportunities for the range of emotions, but after hearing this story I judge your children will never stray far from home and you will indeed need 4 or more plates.
    Sending thoughts your way

  • Avatar
    Patricia Palmer
    Posted at 19:42h, 04 March Reply

    Your slug grabbed my attention right away and I found myself wanting to know what it was that you needed. Why four, not three? I love how your son took ownership of the situation at 16 years young. Not only did he accept the problem created by the situation, he took it one step further and identified a solution. He continued his thinking and acted on it by ordering the replacement. Life-long problem solving skills applied to everyday life. Kudos to you, mom!

  • Avatar
    Karen Terlecky
    Posted at 21:55h, 04 March Reply

    Oh. Wow. Tears flowing. Life has changed for you and losing a plate of your mom’s signifies that in such a poignant way. However, your son’s words are a sign of changed yet to come, and yes, you still need four. Hugs.

  • Avatar
    Kendra Limback
    Posted at 00:48h, 05 March Reply

    Oh! May I say, teenage sons are simply the best? I have a new teenager and a tween. And I just love them, and you have captured this love! The plates and the treasures that hold us to our family members. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Avatar
    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 00:52h, 05 March Reply

    You have raised a very special son, and I’m sure his brother is just as thoughtful. Life’s changes can be hard, but they also help us grow and experience new things.

  • Avatar
    Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 01:40h, 05 March Reply

    I feel this so strongly that I started to cry too. I was happy that our younger son came back to us. I know it will just be for a time. I’m happy for our older son off on his own, but wish I was setting a place for him tonight. Sometimes even now I get out four plates or even serve up four servings. It’s been so long.

  • Avatar
    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 02:09h, 05 March Reply

    I love this thinking – we both know life is changing but we still need four plates. You will alway need four plates and hang on to that replacement site you might need two or more when they have families. I wasn’t prepared for how the two younger ones would react when the oldest left for school. Make sure he sees the campus and where he will be living. Technology makes all of it a bit better.

  • Avatar
    Michelle Nero
    Posted at 03:20h, 05 March Reply

    Wow, Clare. Beautiful story and beautifully written. Everyone’s comments state my thoughts exactly … hold near and dear your memories too. Big changes affect everyone involved in different ways. How sweet of your son to find a replacement!

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