There are so many things I swore I’d never do once I became a mom. I never pictured myself as the mom who makes visitors wash their hands before touching her baby. I am that mom. Although I’ve never identified as a “germaphobe,” I used Purel so often during the newborn months that I developed eczema on my hands. I literally killed the skin on my hands for fear of germs. My perceived threat of RSV or the Flu was almost paralyzing.
As it turns out, I’m a helicopter mom. My natural instinct is to hover constantly to [try to] prevent every possible bad thing that could befall my girls. I can walk into any room and spot 9 different ways my kids could seriously injure themselves. Is that dresser bolted to the wall? What if they jump headfirst off the back of the couch? Did I cut this hot dog small enough? Can they reach that knife on the counter? I’ll stop there, you get it.
Last summer, when the twins were about 9 months old, my husband and I were sitting on our front step with them. Faster than lightning, one of the girls put a rock in her mouth. I noticed it immediately, being the hoverer that I am, and took it out of her mouth. “I think we should let them eat a couple rocks. They’ll learn,” my husband said (obviously, he keeps this chopper grounded sometimes). We sat there a couple more minutes before it hit me – didn’t we recently spray weed killer all around our house? What if there was weed killer on that rock? I could barely sleep that night for fear that she had been poisoned. She was fine, of course.
It’s hard for me to describe the compulsion I feel to protect my kids, but that’s really what it is for me. It’s like an overactive instinct that is not helpful in reality. The good new is, I’ve identified this unhealthy tendency of mine and I’m working on it. I completely understand why being an overprotective parent is not healthy for anyone involved. I really do. My kids need to learn their own lessons and I’m finally realizing that those lessons will probably bring bruises or casts or illnesses with them. I also know that it is not even possible for me to prevent e-v-e-r-y-thing from harming them. The act of trying to absolutely protect them is likely very harmful in itself. And so, I’m doing my best to stay grounded because what a good helicopter mom would do is…not be a helicopter mom.