Every step that my two-year-old son climbs, that helicopter mom wants to hold his hand. Each piece of grown-up food he eats, she wants to mash up beyond recognition. At the first sign of a struggle, she wants jump in and help him velcro his shoes. And the latest…she wants to strap a SIDS monitor onto my newborn baby girl.
That inner-Helicopter Mom wants to protect my children. She wants to be helpful. And most of all, she wants to be responsive. Even though I desperately want my children to free-range in the backyard climbing trees and frolicking with chickens, she continues to feed off of my personality type.
I am little bossy. A little “Type A“. And a little controlling. These are all qualities that I am well-aware of and I try to keep the reins on as a mother and a wife. But I struggle.
I struggle to find the balance between protecting my children and empowering them to protect themselves.
I want to see my children grow and flourish as individuals separate from me. I want to give them physical and emotional distance to develop confidence in their own abilities.
But that inner-Helicopter Mom in me desperately wants to take over. She doesn’t want to see any sign of struggle. She wants to solve all their problems and stand next to them in all their battles.
Yesterday, I talked with my son’s teacher–or “guide” as they call them in Montessori school. She gave me an update on the sort of things he was working on at school. He’s barely two, so of course on the top of that list are things like making 3-word sentences and and wiping his nose on a tissue instead of his sleeve.
But one thing caught my attention. She said she would like to see him work on problem solving. When he runs into an obstacle, he looks up and around the room. He’s looking for adult help. Even if the task is something that he can rather easily accomplish–he often seeks out a helping hand.
I want to be that helping hand. But on the contrary, I also want him to solve his own problems. I want him to be persistent. I want him to persevere. So the battle continues.
The first time one of my children falls out of that tree in the backyard or gets salmonella poisoning from the chicken coop–I am going to bury my head in my hands and tell myself that I should have hovered. I should have let out my propeller.
But the rest of the time, when I see them exploring, growing, and thriving…I will be thankful that I worked hard to allow each to develop into their own person on their own time.
Years from now I want my kids to come to me for advice--not answers. I want them to be able to find their own answers.
Denaye Barahona is an aspiring-minimalist who is mama to a toddler and a baby girl. Her passion is to inspire simple living in families with young children. This fall look for the launch of her new blog, podcast, and online community, Simple Families.