You know, I never thought I wanted kids. My little brother is seven years younger than I am. My mother worked full-time and my father was mostly absent, so the child-rearing duties frequently fell to me. I was also the oldest of the cousins, who, since their parents didn’t have money for childcare, also ended up in my lap. Oh, I’m not saying I was left alone with them at the tender age of eight or so. My grandmother watched us all, taking us from house to house as she worked as a maid.
So, my grandmother worked, and I watched the kids during the summer and after school.
Summer was hardest. When the kids started to get to school age, the days were a lot less stressful for my grandmother. She could at least get the work done and actually spend some time with the kids after school. But the summers were a different story. Having four boys, the oldest one year younger than I, but with serious ADHD problems, the other three six and seven years younger, and two girls, five and nine years younger all trailing into a mansion and sitting quietly while it was being cleaned was a recipe for disaster.
I was in charge. I kept them confined to one room, kept anything breakable out of their reach, and made up activities for us to do. The TV was a miracle, and episodes of Flipper kept them quiet for a half an hour at a time. The play pen was a godsend, though the older boys frequently escaped. But, somehow, I managed to keep them together long enough. Then it was on to the next house.
It got better. One of my uncles had a fourth, surprise, child and got transferred out of state. His oldest daughter took over my duties with her siblings. She’s a nurse now.
That left only my ADHD cousin, his brother, and my brother.
Unfortunately, ADHD wasn’t the only thing that ran in that family. They also had serious anger issues, the children and the parents, which eventually resulted in a divorce. My aunt got custody, remarried, and moved away within a year.
And then there was one.
To say it was a relief is an understatement. I thought that my days of being a nanny were finally over. After all, my brother was getting up in age by now at ten years old, and I planned on moving away to college the next year.
Then our dad came back. On drugs. And our mother was seriously hurt in a car accident.
In an instant, I was no longer in charge of a daycare or nanny service. I was a parent. I was the head of the household. I had to pay the bills. I had to make sure everyone had food to eat and clothes to wear. My grandmother moved in to help my mother, because she couldn’t walk for two years. But my grandmother had never paid a bill in her life. She’d never managed a household alone or made sure homework was done. So I took care of her, also.
At seventeen I took over almost all the traditional duties. I was the disciplinarian. I told my brother when to get up and when to go to bed. I helped him with his homework and took him to his activities. I bought his uniform and made sure his shoes fit. I cooked dinner most nights. I also went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoons.
Today, I am still reminded of the role I play. My mother lives in my house. Though my brother is grown up now, and my mother is much better, still, I am the protector. The provider. The strength of my family. My children rely on me to make the tough decisions. To be the leader.
It is a difficult role, but one which I accept with gratitude. I love my family.
– By Christine Kane
This Guest post is by Christine Kane from internet providers, she is a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Christi.Kane00 @ gmail.com.