We Love German playgrounds, they are the absolute best!! If you want to slide down a slide, you're going to have to work for it. And though my heart still sometimes skips a beat when I see my sweet babes so far out of my reach, my protection, it's a reminder of how far I've come as a mom. Today I watched my kids navigate climbing up a cage, of sorts, just for the pleasure of sliding down a slide. As I stood below and watched them, in awe (as I often am) of what our kids can do when we sit back and let them do it, it struck me how I've changed as a mama.
I used to be THAT mom, the one who hovered. I was the helicopter mom, always there to make sure my kids were safe, always there in case they needed me. Don't get me wrong, I WANTED to be the cool mom on the playground, the one chatting it up with the other mamas while their kids played. I just couldn't. I was fearful of losing sight of them, of what might happen if they went too far, too high, too fast. I've come a long way on my mama journey.
I read once that women who struggled with fertility and were eventually able to have children were more likely to be helicopter moms. I understood it completely. After years of fertility treatments, I finally had everything my heart desired. How could I NOT protect them with everything I had?!? I remember those early years, thinking I was the one in charge, that I alone could keep them safe because they didn't yet know enough about the world or themselves to navigate the swingset. And then one day, at a playground in Georgia, it all changed. They started climbing and I just let them. And they were fine. They were more than fine, in fact, they thrived!! I could see their excitement as they climbed higher and higher calling out, "Mama, look at me!" Something clicked in me that day, and while I can't put my finger on it, it has changed our lives in many ways.
Nowadays our rule on the playground is, "If you CAN do it, you MAY do it." If they can climb to the top of the once-scary-looking piece of playground equipment, then I let them do it. If they need my help to get there, then they're not yet ready. And you know what? My kids are amazing! They surprise me all the time. My daughter will often call for help and then immediately after say, "Never mind, Mama, I can do it. I know I can do it." She talks herself through a lot. She is becoming more brave and confident by the day, and I love watching her transformation as her belief in herself grows. And as it does, my confidence in her abilities grows as well. My son is adventurous, courageous, and full of confidence. I carry owie spray (recipe on the blog), bandaids and water to rinse off the blood, and know that I'll likely need all three on any given trip to the playground. And yet, we are always fine. Cuts and scrapes heal, tears dry. I no longer hover, this is my job now; I watch, I admire, I encourage, I congratulate.
The helicoptering I used to do as a mama, it served a purpose. It was the security blanket I needed for a period of time, but like most security blankets, I outgrew it. So when you're on the playground and you see that mama with her arms out, ready to catch a little should they fall, don't judge. She's brave, just as brave as the mamas watching their kids from afar. One day, she will step back and let her kids take over. But for now, she's right where she needs to be. And so are you.