Hi. I’m Erin. And I’m a helicopter mom.
Just last week my oldest, who is 8, was invited to a birthday party and I left my other two children with my husband while I dropped him off and waited for pick up time. I had two glorious hours to browse TJ Maxx alone with my coffee in hand, and shop at Aldi. I even went to Panera and had lunch. Alone. It was amazing. But it’s truth time: this was the first time I have ever left one of my kids with people who I don’t know very well, and part of me was anxiety-ridden the entire two hours.
I embrace my helicopter mom status. I can count on one hand how many nights my husband and I have spent away from our kids. Typically, it’s while my parents watch them.
Just over 9 years ago, my husband and I experienced tragedy. Our first son, Ray, passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He was 4 months old. Learning to live without our child in our arms has been difficult, to say the least. And our 3 living children are stuck with a mom who is always walking the fine line between hovering over them and learning to let them fly.
As our kids get older, I am finding that the line is blurring even more. It appears that they are maturing and growing and learning about how to be their own little people (and really, how dare they?!). They need my presence to guide them through life less and less. My oldest is developing some of his first real friendships. It is so life-affirming to see him thrive in a friendship that he has made by himself. Just typing it out has me beaming with pride. I’m trying hard to balance my need to hover in case something goes amiss, and letting him navigate the complexities of relationships on his own.
Recently he was invited to spend the night with his new friend. His friend’s mother and I have had many text message conversations about how neat it is to see these boys form this friendship. When I got the text the sleepover, I sent a message to my two best friends (who understand and accept my level of crazy). They both have children around the same age as my son, Jon. They have both walked this path of letting your children live a little more freely. They calmed my nerves about letting my son stay with his friend.
Jon had the best time. His friend’s mom sent me so many pictures and updates about the boys. They had a nerf gun war, played with RC cars, played video games (a current favorite pastime for them) and stayed up later than Jon’s normal eight o’clock bedtime. I am so grateful for the mom, and her ability to understand my reservations without knowing our full story.
Watching my children make their way in this world has helped ease my nerves a little. I’m hoping, as they carve out their own paths, I will recognize when they need me to hover and when they need me to let them fly. Of course, they will also know that the expectation is that they check in with mom every so often because there will always be a little helicopter mom in me who needs to make sure they are okay!