Recently I was chatting with friends and I prefaced a story with “Even though I blog about how crazy moms are…I am secretly a helicopter mother myself sometimes.”
A friend quickly quipped, “It’s no secret.”
I was taken off guard. Am I a helicopter mother without realizing it?
Why would she say such a thing.
I reflected on some instances with this particular person where she might find me an overbearing and overprotective parent.
One instance for sure is my hatred of sleepovers. I guess my refusal to let my children sleep in strange homes
that could have a viscous dog!! in strange beds that could have bed bugs!! on strange pillows that could be filled with lice!! with a bunch of strangers (for no apparent reason) strikes some people as odd.
I find that the parents who loves sleepovers are particularly put off and annoyed by my refusal, and on more than one occasion I have been basically bullied by the sleepover-requesting parents.
These parents that want my children to sleepover their homes with their adorable little children will argue back and forth with me endlessly trying to prove to me the merits of the sleepover.
They will pepper me with reasons why it is so important for children to experience sleepovers and ask me why I would deprive my children of such joy and entertainment incredulously, in a manner that suggests that I am an overprotective moron.
They basically make me feel as though I am a huge nerd and they are totally cool hip parents.
I chalked her comment referring to me as a “helicopter” up to the sleepover issue – but then….
I started to take notice. I caught myself being super-helicopter-y on more than one occasion!
The nerve of me!
Especially in the mornings before school.
I would repeatedly find myself sending the boys back up the stairs to change their outfits, their socks, their hair….
When I checked myself – I couldn’t let go.
I could not let my kids go to school with bad hair or an unseasonable or wrinkled outfit or mismatched socks.
But is this “helicopter parenting” or “good parenting?”
“Cool” parents that “aren’t helicopters” often roll their eyes at me.
“Oh I don’t care what
Buddy the Elf Tucker wears to school – I let him decide…..You have to choose your battles..” they say in their breezy way that indicates that I am a huge douchebag that cares about unimportant matters such as combed hair and wearing pants instead of shorts in the winter.
They roll their eyes at me and my overbearing helicopter-ness to say “You are overbearing and uncool and I am laid-back and we don’t own combs or mirrors and we are very very cool.”
It might requires a little bit of effort. It might require a little bit of static or arguement in the morning – but it’s too ensure that your child learns about the importance of caring about how he presents himself. Is it no longer necessary to match clothes? I am pretty sure that when you go to corporate America you have to wear matching clothes and look presentable or you will go nowhere fast.
And after I assess and approve their appearance and I am actually going to let them leave for school …I do make them kiss and hug me for a long period of time. I do hang on them and pretend I am crying and say “Don’t leave me!”
Is that helicopter-ish??
Sometimes if I have extra time to spare I say “What if one day someone wants to marry you and they say “I hate your mother?” Will you marry them? What will you dooooooo?”
My children are quite accustomed to my dramatics so they usually just give a quick peck on my cheek and say “I won’t marry anyone mom…” and run away towards the bus.
The other day after I went into a long scenario where his wife hates me and refuses to come to my house for any holidays I asked Michael “So what would you do?
He thought about it and said, “I know! I will tell her that I am going to the liquor store and then I will actually come to your house for a visit!” he answered thinking he had done some great problem-solving.
“Ok,” I relented,”But how about ask her why she hates me in the first place?”(A little over-bearing? Maybe…but it’s never too early to start a good relationship with your future daughter-in-law.)
I mean I can see where this might be considered a little helicopter-ish but for the most part ….
This is all normal mothering right???
And then there’s the matter of Sam’s third grade teacher for the fall. I mean Michael’s third grade teacher was the worst living teacher on the planet. She didn’t teach him one thing and she played movies so much that Michael famously stated in the spring of his 3rd grade year – “I can’t wait until third grade is over so that I can stop watching movies.”
So obviously, I met with the principal this spring to strong-arm her into promising that Sam would NOT have this horrible teacher.
I mean how could I let my little sweet (very smart!) angel knowingly go through the entire 3rd grade with a bad teacher?!
I mean if that’s helicoptering and that’s wrong then I don’t want to be right…..
So maybe I can be pegged as a helicopter in some ways.
But now it’s summer and I find myself letting go. When I let things go – it actually feels really good.
It makes me realize the error of my helicopter ways….
Quite frankly – there’s just not so much to worry about during the summer at the beach. Life is easier. We don’t have sports or anything stressful to think about.
I can really loosen the reins a bit…..a lot….maybe too much.
The whole “swimming to the raft” incident was one example…..
This year more than ever – my children have found a bit of independence. They are 8 and 9 and they are taking off with their friends in our small beach community and disappearing for hours at a time.
After dinner every night – they hop on their bikes and announce that they are going to the park or to a friend’s house and they will be back at dark.
Do I know where they are?
yes. I mean I know they are nearby… Well how far could they really go……I’m drunk.
I know that they are safe. I also know that a little freedom for them is priceless.
I also know that a little freedom for me is priceless.
To not have to worry about my children every second of my day is so luxurious!!
Because let’s face it. The worry and fear and maintenance of being a helicopter is pretty intense and pretty draining.
The summer is a time when they can explore, play and establish friendships without their mother hovering over them.
And what will I do with all my spare time?
I’m not quite sure yet…..
I’ll think of something……
I’M SURE EVERYONE WILL SURVIVE WITHOUT A HELICOPTER-PLEASE CLICK THE BANNER BELOW TO SUPPORT ME AS THE BEST MOTHER IN AMERICA….XO, LADY GOO GOO GAGA