[Editors Note: Friends and Lurkers, please welcome Brooke. I promised her to you a few days ago and then basically hopped on a helicopter and failed to publish this post like the asshole that I can't seem to stop being. But this isn't about me. This is about Brooke -- Mother, Writer, Recovering Reality-TV producer, Burgeoning Chicken Farmer and wife to a bald headed tattooed yogi who hunts wild boar (which is delicious). She basically refuses to be defined by anything I could put in a bio, and I'm starting to feel ridiculous trying. She also kind of saves me. So, without further ado... -M-]
Simply put, I envisioned myself as a “free range” mom. My kids, four and a half and 2, are adept at playing by themselves and now with each other. They fall, I don’t run over. They cry (and are not seriously hurt), I don’t rush. They are independent, social, happy kids and I have given myself my fair share of pats on the back for it. I admit too, I find myself judgmental of the “helicopter” mom. I roll my eyes at the park when I see moms on the tails of their kids brushing the sand off their tush, running to their side at the hint of a sorrowful sniffle, or scraped knee.
But my moment of clarity came recently at a play date at my house. My son and his friend tussled over…I honestly don’t even know what they tussled over. All I heard from the next room was the din of discord and I jumped in the middle and told my son to leave his buddy alone. His friend’s mother never left her chair and without judgment graciously said, “unless she’s hurt or hurting someone else, I let her figure it out.” Oh yeah me too. Oh… no. Not me too. I realized in that moment, I’m an emotional helicopter parent. I was horrified. At the hint of any scurfuffle with the preschool set, I’m in the middle of it like an ant on a pile of sugar. Rather than letting my kid work it out with the other kid, I insert my motherly wisdom, my opinion, and the way I know he should behave differently or just better. The other mom’s words gave me pause. I’m THAT mom. I’m not letting my son navigate sticky situations on his own. I’m not at all the “free range” momma I told myself I was.
I forgot that along the way that I won’t always be there to hold their hands through a tough situation. Yes, it is our job to give our kids boundaries and guidelines to maneuver moments such as these, but we give them the tools then stand back. If they fall (or throw a punch), we are there to help them (or remind them to apologize). I am overwhelmed sometimes at the weight of everyday situations such as these and how they shape our kids for their future and the magnitude of my role. For as many pats on the back as I give myself, I give myself more lashes with a leather whip. I’m learning daily to surrender to who I really am as a mother and not the one I thought I would be or the parent I thought I was, or more importantly, the one I think I’m supposed to be.
My kids remind me every day I’m doing something right (even when sometimes I’m probably doing it wrong). Now I need to let go and believe them.