Ok… I have a confession to make.
I am a helicopter mom.
I didn’t choose to be this way. In fact, before I had my daughter, I vowed to never be one of “those moms”. You know, the mom that is never more than 3-5 feet away from her child. The one that follows them around the playground, helping them go down slides and up stairs. Nope, I was not going to be like that. My kid was going to be independent and figure out the world on her own.
Fast-forward to now, when I actually have a mobile child, and I laugh at past me. Anytime we go anywhere (including the park), I am always sticking close to my baby. She could fall and die at any moment, so I HAVE to be there to catch her. It causes me so much anxiety to just watch from a distance that it’s just not worth it. Every time she stumbles or falls, I swear it takes years off my life. One of these days I’m pretty sure that my heart is just going to stop because I can’t handle any more accidents.
And I have tried to be chill about my daughter. Just yesterday I was watching her play and she climbed up on our record player (on top of a chest) to look out the window. She had been doing it all day and I thought she was figuring out how to climb back down. Man, was I wrong. I was sitting maybe three feet away from her (trying to be cool about the whole situation) when she decided to step straight off the edge of the record player. I raced to grab her, but she had already fallen and hit the side of her head on one of her toys. Then she cried so hard she passed out (for just a second). I was shaking and nearly in tears. She recovered from the fall and is fine, minus the bruise on her head. My husband and I immediately rearranged our living room so she wouldn’t climb on the record player anymore. But that didn’t help me. I was on the brink of tears for the rest of the night, because I knew it was my fault she had been hurt. I felt like I had failed her.
In my brain, I know she is fine. She has now taken to climbing on the couch to look out the window, which is better because she knows how to climb down. I don’t even think she remembers falling. But I remember. And I’m sure this will not be the last time she falls and I’m not there to catch her. But the guilt I feel about not being there for her is just so crushing. It’s so much worse than the “inconvenience” of following her around a playground or spotting her on the couch.
And I totally am not judging moms who are “free range moms”. I think it is awesome to let kids go off on their own adventures. I wanted to be that mom. But I think sometimes “helicopter moms” get a bad rep for being overprotective and smothering. I’m sure some are like that, but others may have different reasons for staying close. All I know is that for me, being too far from my daughter causes me more anxiety than I really enjoy feeling.
So, call me overprotective. Say I’m being too careful. Tell me to let my daughter experience the world on her own and stop hovering. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m guessing that for at least the next little while, I will continue to be “that mom”…
… you know, the one that is never more than 3-5 feet away from her child.