Chicago mom: I’m a helicopter parent

Sometimes, I picture myself walking into a room where there is a circle of folding chairs. In the back of this room, there is a table with a pot of coffee brewing and some cookies. Similar to a PTA meeting set-up.

Except this room is for special people. Special people like me.

At the start of this meeting, I would stand up and say, “Hi. I’m Erin, and I’m a helicopter parent.”

Everyone else in the room would reply, “Hi, Erin.”

They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

I had three kids in 33 months, so for the past six years, I have been in a constant state of “hovering.” My back aches. My arms are sore from reaching. My throat is scratchy from yelling, “Get down from there!”

I want to let my little birds fly, but when you’re in a constant state of manning three kids running three different ways, sometimes, helicoptering is for their survival.

First, as a new parent I was doing the typical hovering crib fly bys to see “Are you still breathing in there?” Then, it was the “Don’t fall down the stairs at people’s houses who don’t have gates” flight pattern. Let’s not forget the, “We are trying solid foods now, so I have to watch you chew every damn grape” hovering. Next, I was in a “I will pretend to clap and be proud that you are on that very high contraption thingy at the playground, but my heart is in my throat” hover mode. Then, there was the ever popular, “Crap. These people have an in-ground pool in their backyard I’m sure MY kid will find a way to get in it” panic two man flight formation.

The other day, we were at the playground. My husband, Brian, and I were chatting. We were doing that thing where we were watching the kids but talking to each other. We looked like Secret Service agents in our sunglasses, scanning the playground, we were talking but never looking at each other. But, Brian, a fellow helicopter, understands. Our youngest, age three, ran up and asked for a push on the swings. My husband happily obliged. Then, my sons who needed a boost up onto the monkey bars, were happy I was there to help.

My kids are taking swim lessons. At the end of the lessons, the kids’ parents can get in the pool with them for playtime and see all they have learned. Because of my helicopter tendencies, I, of course, am in the pool for playtime with the kids. However, we spend the whole time splashing giggling and playing together and we love it. (Also, I was there to help the swim teacher STOP one of my children from getting into the deep end of the pool.)

I used to be ashamed of my helicopter parenting ways. However, I have recently realized, being there for my kids is more than just keeping them safe. Because I am available to them (fine, hovering), we are able to enjoy the fun times like playing at the playground or in the pool.

Meanwhile, I will just try to delicately balance independence and safety.

Hi. I’m Erin, and I’m a helicopter parent.

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