My name is Donna F., and I am a helicopter mom. I have many children, so one would think my condition was inevitable. On the contrary, early in my parenting endeavor, I just didn’t let my kids go anywhere. When they were young, our yard was big enough to please them.
However, at about 12 or 13, they were hankering to get out the gate. Often, I relented as long as they weren’t alone. At this point, the symptoms were self-evident. Rubber-necking over the fence until I saw them turn the corner, preparations for exit in case of sirens, a reasonable respite while they got to Walgreen’s, did some candy shopping and make their way back to the corner where I could see them. If they violated this inner timetable, the heart palpitations began, my face became flushed (this was before perimenopause) and a host of tragic scenarios sprung from my very active imagination; until, of course, I saw their smiling faces come around the corner. Then I would decompress and try to act like I didn’t freak out at all. No need to worry the kiddies.
I think my condition worsened with the acquisition of cell phones. I let out the leash further with the older kids, the younger ones still stayed inside the gate. I called often, checking up on them. I had all their friends’ numbers. Their friends, being nice as they are, were very patient with my affliction. I prided myself in knowing where each of the ten was. They may have hated me for it though.
I knew I had a problem when I took to texting like a kid takes to Halloween candy. I admit I scoffed at this new form of communication at first; but once I started, there was no stopping. Good thing for me, my children prefer texting to verbal communication. We’ve had many heart-to-hearts via text. I have a collection of favorite texts from my kids. Some are heartwarming. Very few are severe. It may be a little harder for them to text “I hate you” than it is to say it. Yet, I noticed that even this good thing has limitations.
One time, my older son went into the City on a date. He told me from the get-go that I was allowed five texts. This is where helicopter mom syndrome (HMS) becomes serious. That was a hard night, but I survived with the five texts. I timed them carefully. One – arrive safely? Son – yep. Two – have enough money? Son – yep. Three – don’t be alone in the house? Son – yep, that’s three, Mom. Four (after I waited awhile, lest I push it) – what train will you be on? (I had to get him at the bus stop.) Son – idk. (Yikes! Breathe, just breathe.) Five – Where the hell are you? This particular child feels it is necessary at times to teach his mother to not worry. So he didn’t answer that one for awhile. Next text from him – be at bus stop in 20 mins. Relief. Don’t you just love teenagers!
Although I am still in the throes of helicopter mom syndrome (having four teenagers still at home), I have learned to trust them, trust them to respond to my texts, trust them and their abilities to get around and trust them to keep their cell phones charged. Once in awhile, I have to fall into Childhood Mother Mode (CMM) when their phones do die or I cannot locate them. When I was growing up, my parents assumed I was at school and then would head home. They didn’t worry if I had missed the bus; they figure I’d get home eventually. So when all my helicopter mom devices are of no use, I have to just trust (and pray). Maybe that’s what parenting comes down to anyway.