I have never considered my self a "helicopter mom."
Far from it. I believe children have to experience life (and fail a few times) to grow into productive, independent, strong adults. I've never been one of those moms who are right there, all the time, preventing the scraped knees or hurt feelings.
Yes, I think there are losers. Not everyone can win a trophy just for trying. And sometimes, your kid is a loser. It teaches humility and encourages them to try harder next time.
Not too long ago, I felt like a helicopter mom. For the first time ever, my daughter was walking from her school to the library. All alone. It's a good mile trek through town, maybe a bit longer. I was a nervous wreck, mostly worried she'd take a wrong turn and end up somewhere completely unknown to her.
She would pass a fast food joint on the way to the library, so I gave her a few bucks to stop and get a snack as I quadruple checked to make sure she had her phone and that phone was fully charged.
I gave her very explicit instructions: "Text me as soon as you leave the school and then as soon as you arrive at the library. If I don't hear from you in an hour after you leave the school, I'm calling the police."
"You'd call the police? Really?" she was surprised. She knows I generally don't worry too much about her. She has never given me reason to and the kid has a good head on her shoulders.
Besides, she was excited to strike out on her own on this little adventure and I'm sure she didn't want me messing it all up by being an overprotective mom. She couldn't wait to make the trip.
Another tiny step to the edge of the nest. My heart skipped a couple of beats and ached just a bit.
As soon as I knew she'd be getting out of her after school art program, I started watching my phone, waiting for that text. All overprotective and hovering.
I got the text and the anxiousness set in. Now, the test begins.
Half an hour later, I got a second text. She was at the fast food joint getting a milkshake. And, she was with one of her friends.
Turns out, one of her friends walks home from school along the same route my kid was taking to get to the library so they walked together. The friend doesn't walk home as far as the library, but she walked with my daughter all the way to the library because she knew the way and had made the walk a few times. They were enjoying each other's company out of the classroom and reveling in a newfound freedom.
The third text came another half- hour later, letting me know she had arrived safely at the library and was settling in to read while waiting for her ride home. The worrywart helicopter mom disappeared. I knew she could do it without any problems, but I'm a mom. I sometimes worry about the worst-case, likely-will-never-happen scenario.
A fourth text told me she was hungry.
"I gave you money for a snack," I texted back.
"I spent it," she replied.
"Then you shouldn't be hungry!"
"I bought (friend) a Blizzard because she walked with me and didn't have to. I didn't want to eat in front of her. That's rude," she wrote back.
Well, melt my heart and make me glow with pride.
Her independence is growing faster than I'd like, there's no doubt about that. But something else is happening, too. The things I've spent the past 12 years trying to teach her through actions and dinner table conversation is sticking with her.
And that makes me one happy momma.