Helicopter Mommy — I am one. Not. Well, maybe.
Being a first-time mother, doubts assail me almost every day on how to properly bring up my son. It doesn’t help when constant comments and well-meaning suggestions (“He is too thin. Feed him more. / The diapers are not suitable. Leaking all the time. / Cover him with blanket at night. It gets chilly”) are turning me into a hovering or “helicopter mommy”.
When he was a year old, my son climbed into his stroller and fell. I was gathering things and didn’t notice that the stroller was not properly opened. As a result, the stroller folded and my son had a huge goose egg on the forehead. Since then, the goose egg had healed but his grandmother became paranoid. Since then, every time my son climbs up or comes down from his stroller, feeding chair, table, boxes, etc. his grandmother would give a warning or quickly rush to his aid. In the process, I would get the constant reminder “He should not be left alone. If he falls and breaks his spinal cord, it is too late for regrets. Must watch him constantly. He likes to climb now.” Over and over again. While I appreciate her concern and had tried to explain that he should be able to learn to do things by himself and learn from his mistakes, my reasonings fell on deaf ears.
While I understand the danger of leaving a child alone for too long, I now cannot go into the kitchen (which is a few steps away from the living room) without grandma throwing nervous glances at my child who is alone in the living room.
However, I persevered.
I want to raise an independent child. And he mostly is. Which I am proud of.
I still remember my joy when I first saw him climb on and get off the bed without help. I also remember the four times he fell off the bed before he could even walk.
I still remember the joy (and fright) he gave when I saw him sitting in his feeding chair, happily playing with his toy cars. Apparently, he had climbed up by himself. He was around 16-months-old then.
For several times, I found him sitting on his dad’s computer table because he wanted to play with the things on the table. And to do that, he had to climb a swiveling computer chair. While overcoming the initial shock of the knowledge that he could have fallen and knocked his head or injured himself, I was secretly proud of his achievement.
And when we go for our walks, sometimes I would hold his hand and sometimes he would walk and explore his surroundings. I would just hover subtly, happy that he is not afraid of studying the world by himself.
In short, while I won’t totally let go of his hand anytime soon, I hope I am not a helicopter mommy. As it is, I hover when he eats. I hover when he goes swimming. I hover when he plays at the playground.
As parents, we just have to find a balance.