Letting Go of “Helicopter Mom”
I’ve always been a total helicopter mom. A “stage-five clinger,” if you will.
I don’t know why I’m so paranoid about Caroline hurting herself. Maybe it’s just that I’m super uptight about everything, which I am, or the fact that she was gross motor-delayed and still kind of has two left feet, or maybe the whole NICU thing started me off with this parenting thing on the wrong foot, feeling like I could lose her. Whatever. The point is, I hover. Always have. While other kids are running freely around the playground, I’m fast-walking after my kid and trying to keep a non-crazy distance from her so that the other moms don’t judge me while still staying close enough to (hopefully) prevent her from cracking her head open.
I think about this a lot, actually. I don’t want her to have issues from my overprotectiveness, but I don’t want her to get hurt, either. It’s a fine line and I haven’t really figured out how to walk it.
This past Friday, I was at an amusement park for a dental implant conference (random, I know, but don’t ask) and once it was over, all of the residents had a free pass to the park for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I had to leave to get Caroline from daycare. I thought, hey, she’s too little for the rides, but why not bring her back and see how she likes the park? So I did.
I got her a hot dog for dinner. (I am also extremely uptight about her diet, so we don’t do hot dogs in our house.) She loved it. Her GI tract did not explode and she did not develop any sort of mysterious hot dog-induced cancer. (Yet. As far as I know.) Then I took her on the kiddie carousel. I set her on a horse, buckled her in, and held onto her for dear life as the carousel started turning.
She loved it. Like, loved it. I relaxed. We rode that thing over and over until she wanted a different ride.
Then we went to the kiddie swings. I asked the guy who was running it nervously if she was big enough and he rolled his eyes and said “she’s tall enough but it’s your call, miss” without looking at me. I buckled her in (with her stuffed Pooh Bear, who she refused to leave behind) and made myself go stand behind the gate.
Again… she was loving it. The ride stopped and she cried “Mommy!!” so I ran behind the gate and knelt down beside her swing. ”You want to get off?” I asked her, half-relieved.
“NO!!” she yelled. ”AGAIN!! A different color swing!”
She rode the swings again and again, laughing her head off and loving life. I relaxed again. I stood behind the gate and watched her. And she did great.
We rode a few other kiddie rides together and had a blast. After each ride she would say to me, “I not ready to go home yet, okay Mommy? I not ready yet.” You know… just in case I was getting any ideas about leaving.
Putting aside my anxiety about her hurting herself or getting lost or whatever I thought was going to happen was really freeing, and I had so much fun watching her experience all the amusement park stuff for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun at a place like that… not even when I was a kid myself. And she had so much fun that she hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since.
So from now on, when I feel the urge to hover, I’m really going to try to keep it to a minimum. She’ll get bumps and bruises, but as long as she’s safe, that’s okay.
And we’re definitely going back to the amusement park.Add a Comment