Before I became a parent, I assumed I knew all there was to know about parenting. When speaking about my theoretical children of the future, I would tell people that kids were parent-proof; that parents really didn't have to hover over them every hour of every day; that kids would would be just fine without their parents' constant attention. Then I had kids and realized that my perception was completely skewed. I'm now experiencing the stages of not planning to helicopter parent, but helicopter parenting anyway because, wow, kids are scary you guys.
I didn't practice attachment parenting (at least I don't think I did) but rather practiced what I endearingly call the "just wing it" method of parenting. For the most part I've just been figuring things out as I go and along the way. I don't stress over parenting studies or articles, and I don't lose too much sleep at night worrying about gluten or GMOs. I have, however, become a bit of a "hovering mom" now that my boys are toddlers, despite my best efforts not to.
I grew up in the country, where the woods were my playground. I once caught a snake in the grass and released it in a creek when I was maybe ten, and acted like it was no big deal. I spent every day climbing trees and running free, and it was amazing. When I found out that I was going to become a mom myself, I wanted the same for my boys. I wanted to give them the room they needed to grow and explore and discover their own way in the world, but then I realized how damn scary the world actually is and, well, now I'm dancing a fine line between being a cautious mom and being a helicopter mom. Don't judge me.
"I Will Never Helicopter Parent"
I always thought those moms who watched their kid's every move like a hawk were needlessly worrying. "Why are they so afraid?" I would think to myself as I watched them chase their child across their yard. At the time, I didn't get it. I thought that their worry was unnecessary and that they were overreacting. "I'll never be that parent," I said to myself on multiple occasions.
I mean, those moms really, really annoyed me, and I subjected more than just a few of them to my judgmental eye rolls. Sorry, now-fellow moms. I had no idea.
"Let Kids Be Kids"
Kids should be able to be kids; they should be able to make messes and run and play and explore and roam freely without their parents tracking their every move and dousing them in sunscreen every five minutes. I mean, we all survived childhood without shoes or leashes, so our kids should be able to do the same.
"Wait, Is That My Toddler At The Top Of The Big Kid Slide?"
I always thought that my oldest would be the easy one to contain. It's always been my youngest that worries me, but when my youngest was quietly and calmly sitting in my lap at the park, it was my oldest who grabbed my attention by yelling "Hey, look at me!" as he was dancing at the top of the highest tower on the big kids' playground. I've got to be honest: I didn't think he had it in him.
"Maybe I'll Just Stand A Little Close, Just In Case"
The bravery my oldest displayed on a playground he's not technically supposed to play on for another four years, got my attention (to say the least). Instead of sitting under a nice, shady tree, my youngest and I got up and stood a bit closer to his big brother. I wanted to be on my feet just in case I needed to suddenly sprint to catch my fearless toddler from falling off of the slide.
"OK, I Still Can't React Quickly Enough From This Range To Make Sure They Don't Do A Canon Ball Off Of The Slide"
Maybe I'll stand just a little closer...
"I'll Just Get On The Playground With Them. It's No Big Deal"
I could always use a little more exercise, so playing with my kids on the playground seemed like a good idea,until I realized that I can't maneuver my way across the jungle gym quite like I used to. Still, I continued to make my presence known on the playground regardless. I assumed that my presence alone might tame my toddler, but I was wrong. So, so wrong.
"OMG Kids Are Fast"
Instead of considering my presence to be a warning of caution, my son thought it was a game. He ran circles around me, leaping over bridges and crawling through tunnels. He was loving every second of making me sweat, and the more he ran around, the more nervous I got.
"So This Is What Anxiety Feels Like"
As if dealing with postpartum depression wasn't enough, I was also gifted with a heavy dose of anxiety at the hands of my toddler and a very "dangerous" set of monkey bars. I never realized how many sharp corners or poisonous bugs were involved in our lives until I had kids. Seriously, they're everywhere.
"Seriously, Keeping Them Alive Is Proving To Be A Lot Harder Than I Thought"
It's scary when you realize exactly how easily they can fall off playground equipment and break their arm. I mean, disaster is literally around every corner. It doesn't matter whether it's a tree or a slide or a mosquito, but having kids will make you become keenly aware of exactly how many things can cause them harm. I don't understand how so many people survived the world before us.
"Maybe I'll Get Them Helmets"
...and knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guards, maybe even a bubble for them to live in.
"Maybe I'll Just Hover Over Them For The Rest Of Their Toddler Lives Because They're Clearly A Danger To Themselves"
Helmets and mouth guards can only protect them so much. They're useless against lions and tigers and bears and carcinogens and GMOs and, damn, when did I become so paranoid? Seriously though, toddlers are clearly a danger to themselves. I mean, my kid tries to do canon balls off our couch onto the hardwood floor. Wood doesn't exactly make for an easy landing. It does, however, probably make for a broken arm.
"I'm Never Taking My Eyes Off Of Them Again. Ever."
Nope, never. I hereby commit the rest of my life's efforts to protecting my children from the harsh elements of the world. Be it global warming or recalled snacks or Donald Trump, I vow my eternal efforts to their safety. I'll carry these plans out by tracking their every move, every hour of every day. I vow to never let them out of my site for more than three seconds at a time, and if/when they do wander out of the realm of my reach, I promise to flip my sh*t and panic relentlessly. This is my solemn vow as a new helicopter mom because, damn, the world is terrifying.