When I was growing up, I never understood the fear, the worry, or the perceived over-protectiveness of my mother. As a pre-teen, I'd roll my eyes when I would leave for a bike ride and she'd yell out "Check in with me in 30 minutes." As a hormonal teenager, I would grumble under my breath when she wanted to know where I was going, who I would be with, and what time I expected to come home. As a college student, she got a toll-free number for the house so my sister and I didn't have an excuse not to call home.
I felt annoyed.
I felt hovered over.
And now... I understand. And I am grateful.
It's amazing how my perspective of the world changed after I became a mother. Before you are in the position of being a parent, it really is hard to see how scary the everyday goings-on around you really are. I guarantee you that before I had kids, I never would've thought twice about hitting the gas as soon as the light turned green, oblivious to the reality that people speed through red lights. I never would've questioned if a peculiar middle-aged man with a small dog was watching children play at the park. I wasn't aware of my surroundings in a dark parking garage. I just didn't think anything would ever happen.
Ah, the veil of invicibility is quickly lifted, isn't it?
Having these little people who are dependent upon you for their safety makes one keenly aware of all of the dangers surrounding them. Survival of the fittest, no doubt. I'm sure some brilliant scientific researcher spent years studying this, comparing the defensive parenting tactics of animals versus humans, all in an effort to prolong the species... or something.
A researcher I am not.
A mother I am, a self-proclaimed "hoverer". I watch my children like a hawk whenever we are in a public place. If I can't see them for a split-second at the park, instant panic sets in, survival mode, until I again see them in my line of sight. (They're learning that one of mommy's rules is they have to stay where they can see me.) By any body of water, I am their lifeguard, or in some cases, their life vest police, insisting they wear them no matter how much whining is soon to follow. In the car, I strap them in their carseats as if they're taking off for a space flight.
Can you blame me?
Every day, the news is filled with the horrific reality of... life. The things you hope will never happen - but when it does, especially if it hits close to home, it tightens that proverbial parental rein even more. Car accidents, perverts, drownings, kidnapping, rape, murder.
Can you blame me?
Can you blame any mother?
I wish my mother were alive, so I could apologize for all the grief I ever gave her, and thank her for caring enough to hover and to be involved in my life. I'd thank her for, unknowingly, teaching me the mothering ropes. What seemed, at the time, like intrusion, was actually her way of making sure her baby girl was safe.
And now, the reins are passed to me, so I may keep my baby girls safe.
It's a scary world out there.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some hovering to do.