The census wants to shrink my family

Media I have a husband and three kids. That makes us a family of five. Or so I thought.

Even when my older son left for college in the fall, I continued to think of myself having a family of five. I completely freaked out when I came home one day soon after my son’s departure to find that my husband had taken a leaf out of the dining room table and moved a chair off to the side; that leaf and chair went back immediately, and it remains there today. I need to see five chairs at the table or it looks weird.

When I buy little treats for the kids, I still buy three. One may have to be delivered by the mailman, but my college kid is not getting left out. I tried just buying two of something recently, I couldn’t do it; I left
the cart in line and went back for a third.

But today the census form arrived. And right there, just a few lines down after the start arrow, it states bluntly, “Do not count anyone living away at college. Leave these people off your form, even if they will return to live here after they leave college.”

Then comes question number one. “How many people were living in this house on April 1.”

The answer it wants is four.

So far, the form sits on the table, blank. Because it feels like the minute I fill it out I will have cut our family down by one, that I will no longer be able to think of myself as having a family of five, because, officially, according to the U.S. Government, we’ll be a family of four. And I’m just not ready.

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