One of my goals for being a parent was to always be the best parent I could be. That included knowing everything about my son, going to all of his events (school and extra-curricular), chaperoning field trips, fixing lunches, placing love notes in his lunch box, helping with homework, and even sitting outside the school waiting for him to finish after school activities. I envisioned him jumping in the car, grabbing his afternoon snack and enjoying the ride home. We would have dates at least every other weekend. We would go to the movies, dinner, sporting events and take mini getaways. Clearly, I was delusional.
I spent the first half of my son’s life doing most of these things. We were inseparable. I would go to work and commit the rest of my hours to meeting his needs. I was always available to be the “team mom” because I knew I would be at whatever event he was a part of. I never missed a program and was even the fundraising coordinator for his school because I spent that much time supporting them through supporting him. I literally sat at the table with him doing nothing while he did his homework because I needed to understand what he was learning at school. We recited scripture daily for Bible drills, practiced spelling words, and I checked every single assignment he completed. When I would go to complete a task, he had to be in the same vicinity so I could keep a watchful eye on him. I figured he would make few mistakes or get in little trouble if I kept him close to me. I would forever be there to guide him. And then life happened.
The first thing I realized is my son was capable of doing so much more but I was actually hindering him by trying to do it all. I needed to allow him to find his own voice and stand up for himself when things didn’t go as planned. The second thing I realized is I was making my life miserable trying to separate my life as a mother, wife and educator. I needed balance and he needed independence. The more control I gave him over his life, the more control he took over his life. But because I had always been right by his side, I worried over every little thing. One day my husband asked me would I consider myself to be a “helicopter parent”? LOL, of course I did, at that time.
Seventeen years later, I’m still learning to let go. But thankfully, during the early years, I woke up and realized one day my son would move on and I would have to figure out life all over again. Would I have friends? Would I know how to date my husband? Would I be able to identify myself outside of motherhood? Not knowing the answers to those questions caused me to adjust quickly. It registered in that moment that enough was enough. I needed to keep my own identity while allowing him to develop his. Being a helicopter parent was not the most rewarding thing that could have happened. Allowing him to make mistakes, correct them and grow from his own experiences has been more gratifying than anything I imagined.