On being all grown up - Heather Middleton

Sometimes it can be difficult to remember your little sister and brother have grown up just as you have and they don't need 'mothering' anymore.

I say this because last week, my sister joined me here in the ATL and my brother came in from Las Vegas to help her move all her things from Cleveland.

Gone are the days when arguing and fighting reined and an occasional slap would be given to each other when mom wasn't looking. No longer do we have to sneak soda .. timing the taking just right when it had hit the center of the label and could be taken without much notice.

Now we just drink what we want and eat what we want and do whatever we want to do.

I still remember the days when my brother was a baby in diapers and had a cloth towel tied around his neck to catch the baby drool from his big round cheeks. And my sister not much older than my brother, was smaller in size than me, but could pack a wallop with her tiny muscles. At night, she would line up her stuffed animals so that once we were tucked in and the lights went out, she could aim and launch them at my head. (I did my fair share of stuffed animal throwing ... but I was never quite as good at it as my sister.) Throughout much of our childhood, we shared a bedroom and often, our beds would be right across from each other. Thus, making the perfect setting for throwing things at each other.

Being the oldest has always had its challenges. While I got to experience all the benefits of getting older - first, it was me who also had to test the limits of growing up and sometimes pay the price.

And as we've grown up, being the oldest hasn't gotten any easier. I worry about my siblings now like I did when we were kids. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember they're adults now and are free to make their own decisions without my butting in and bossing them around.

My sister is trying to learn the area and get use to driving on these crazy Atlanta freeways. I was biting my lip the other day when Jennifer and Don piled into HER car and drove down to the grocery store. I was convinced something would happen to them because maybe my sister would drive too fast or too slow or get lost - anything that would put them in danger.

But I had to remind myself they're grown up and capable of taking care of themselves. As predicted, they arrived back to our apartment in one piece with the groceries.

I guess what I'm feeling is similar to what our parents felt when we all flew the coop and set out to find our own way in life. Sheer Terror!

The need to protect them from everything and help them make all the best decisions is sometimes overwhelming. But what I'm learning now is that they're adults just like I am and they have to be able to carve out their own path in life.

So, here's to my not so little sister and brother ... may all your dreams come true and may you be willing to put up with my 'mothering' - just a little.

Heather Middleton is the designer for the Clayton News Daily. She can be reached at hmiddleton@news-daily.com .