I like to think of myself as fun and relaxed, as brave with a touch of crazy. I’m the one who loves to laugh and awkwardly dance in public, the one who jumped off the cliff first and who shaved her head because she felt like it. I’m the one who traveled across the world alone.
So naturally, I thought I was going to be a really fun parent. A free spirit, spontaneous and unconcerned with dirt or danger. I’d probably raise kids who were sponsored by Red Bull they’d be so fearless and capable.
And then I had them. And then my heart was turned inside-out and was crushed by a million tons of brick.
It turns out that when it comes to my kids, I’m not brave. It turns out a lot of the time I’m not even that fun or relaxed.
I’ve become more like an underpaid bodyguard.
I never wanted to be a helicopter parent, but I am one.
They have so much creativity, these children. I hope to someday channel that into saving the planet or inventing Spanx that don’t cause profuse sweating, but for now, it’s primarily resulted in head wounds and triangle cut-outs in the table cloth.
I live in fear that my kids will run into the road. Just spastically. Probably showing me a cool dance move or something.
Sometimes I psych myself up and say—today is the day I’m going to be “chill.” Then, I remember there are reasons I am not chill. I find them licking the playground equipment or inexplicably throwing rocks in the general direction of our rental van. I glance away for one second and they start hoisting themselves over the fence guarding a 70ft drop into a rocky ravine.
Some of these things are clearly more detrimental than others…but all of them make me question their critical-thinking skills.
The thing is…when I look at them with their smooth cheeks and bright eyes, I see their soft hearts and tender innocence. The thought of them being wounded or broken or hurt feels like a knife in my heart that I just couldn’t take.
It’s too much.
At the park, I feel like I’ve got to keep my eyes on every child all the time. This would work really well if I also had four heads. The result is a stressed-out nutcase of a mother constantly calling for my kids. Sure, something terrible happening is highly unlikely, but even the faint whisper of that idea…feels like my gut being trampled by a stampede of horses. It’s too sickening for me to find my rational mind…and then I’m the helicopter parent at the park.
I’m not the cool mom like I thought. I’m the one that my son puts his hand on my arm (after I tell him not to step near the road) and says, “Mom. I’m 10.” I should probably let him know that I’m going to be doing this until he’s 27, just so we can all lower our expectations of my rationality.