I find when I’m out with Kendall and he’s playing with other kids his age, I always seem to be the mom who’s jumpy. I’m the one who can’t control her gasp reflex when any of the kids fall. I’m the one willing herself not to helicopter, and losing that battle more often than I’d like.
I think I make the other parents nervous.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just let them play? They’re FINE. A little fall, a bump, a bruise never killed anyone.
But, when other parents see 2 kids climbing a little higher than they should, I’m betting that they don’t then see flashes of their kid losing his balance and falling head first to the ground, snapping his neck.
When other parents see their kid running at the pool, they probably don’t then envision them slipping and hitting their head on the edge of the pool and bleeding everywhere.
When other parents see their kid running with a stick, they probably don’t then see them falling and impaling themselves with it.
I’m guessing because I know not all other parents deal with anxiety like I do. I know not all other parents deal with these visions like I do.
And so some of them, I feel, get a sense of unease around me. They can pick up on my nerves. I make them uncomfortable.
I don’t blame them. They don’t know. I don’t go around the playground explaining my anxiety, how I have a tendency to fear the worst when it comes to my kids.
I’m trying. I really am. Over the last 8 months, I’ve made some great strides in dealing with it. The visions are just this weird residual side effect that’s hard to get rid of, and I’m not sure I ever will. I’m not sure that I need to. I think I just have to keep working to deal with them, to talk myself out of them, to rationally break down what is and isn’t a real threat.
Somedays I just want to keep my kids inside the house because I feel like that’s the safest place they can be, the easiest place for me to control.
But then I take a deep breath… or twenty, get dressed, and take my kids someplace they can learn and explore. That truly is my intention.
So, next time you see that helicopter mom at the playground and you think she’s overbearing and not letting her kids discover and play with their surroundings, maybe consider for a moment that the step of even bringing her kid to a playground to begin with was a huge one.
Kendall is 4 years old and Leyna is 17 months old