The Harbinger Online

Tales of an Oldest Child

I can’t wait to be a mom when I grow up.

I want to have at least four kids and spend my days driving carpools, watching soccer games and volunteering for school functions. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have a career, too; I’m not saying I want to be a full-time, stay-at-home trophy wife. I just really can’t wait to have kids.

As the oldest (and most responsible) of four, I’ve become a “mini-mom”. I find myself squeezing soccer carpools and spelling homework into my already-full schedule. But I’m okay with it. However, my mom and dad (and siblings, but they don’t count) are constantly annoyed at my parenting.

My parents appreciate the help, but they don’t appreciate the nagging and lecturing I tend to dish out to my younger brothers and sister. I have a bad habit of letting my sister know that she has a pile of homework yet to be done, and I’m always the first to remind my brothers that singing is not allowed at the dinner table. For some strange reason that I just cannot comprehend, they believe two parents are enough and my siblings don’t need a third.

I’m a maternal person; that’s just who I am. I get it from my mom, who is truly the greatest (not that I’m totally biased or anything). Since middle school, my friends have always jokingly called me mom. But the description fits me. I like caring for people — I just want to know that everyone’s happy.

Being the oldest, I experience countless mini-mom moments.

The other night my parents went to a concert and left me in charge. My brothers didn’t have school the next day, so my sister and I just let them fall asleep on the couch while watching yet another episode of “Regular Show”. At 10:00 I heard little footsteps running up the stairs, and next thing I knew I had a six-year-old boy snuggled next to me in my twin bed. Not exactly ideal for school-night sleeping — I ended up staying up until midnight trying to get comfortable.

I call this a major mom struggle. Motherhood is great and all (well, at least from what I’ve experienced in my 17 years), but it sure does have it downsides. Like having a sweaty kid crammed into your already too-small bed. In moments like this I have come to find opportunities to step back and be grateful.

Yes, this may be incredibly uncomfortable and yes, there’s no way I’ll be able to keep my eyes open at school tomorrow, but at least I have a little brother who’s willing to snuggle with me. Not everyone’s fortunate enough to experience that kind of love.

My favorite mini-mom moment of all time was getting to drive my mom’s minivan when she was out of town. You heard that right, I GOT to drive it, not HAD to. I took my 12-year-old brother and four of his friends to a fall carnival. I’ll admit that driving a minivan is up there on my long list of things I’m really bad at. But the whole driving-five-boys-around-mom-style thing rocked.

While something like this may have been incredibly embarrassing to your average high schooler (and probably my freshman self), I’ve learned to not let it bother me. Here’s my motherly insight: when you have to drag a screaming 6-year-old out of TCBY, people will inevitably see you. It happens and it’s embarrassing — you’ve just gotta embrace it.

My motherly instincts don’t just kick in when I’m around my siblings — I also nanny four boys after school and I lead a small group of third through fifth grade girls. If being in charge of four kids by yourself isn’t the definition of “mini-mom”, I don’t know what is. They’re thirteen, twelve, seven and six, so to say they’re a handful would be an understatement. But I love them.

Despite the countless fits, fights and spilt snacks (occasionally on purpose), I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. Because for three hours a day, three days a week, I am the mom in charge. I’m responsible for making after-school snacks, helping with homework and driving them all over the city. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s fun.

I’ve learned a lot from nannying these boys. And I don’t just mean how to effectively stop a first-grader from throwing a fit. I’ve discovered how extremely stressful, exhausting and time-consuming being a mom is. Through this, I’ve also seen how rewarding it can be. If I said the boys and I have had more ups than downs, I’d be lying. The “I hate soccer practice and cold weather and especially you” meltdowns seem to be endless. But the “I love you” snuggles at the end of the day always make up for it.

Through my days as a mini-mom, I’ve come to appreciate how awesome my own mother is. Like, she seriously rocks. Every single day, she writes me a note in my lunch and comes to all of my tennis matches (even though I’m last on the ladder). I’ve realized how much my own mom does for our family without us noticing. So Molls, thank you for being the BEST mom in the entire world. You’ve made me want to be a mom when I grow up just so I can be as awesome as you are.

The other day I got to take Jakey, the youngest, bowling with my brother, Uchan, because all the other boys were busy. Watching them try to lift the bowling balls and then lie on the ground as they watch the oh-so-slow ball roll down the lane was precious. Moments like this remind me why I love being a mini-mom.

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