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April 20, 2010

Confessions of the Non-Hovering Mom

Flyingwoman1 I like to think of myself as the kind of mom who does not hover over my children. Flying low overhead in my mommy-copter ready to swoop in and fix everything is just not my style of parenting.  I have, I do and I will allow them to make mistakes. How else can they learn and grow if they aren't allowed to stumble or mess up with a parental safety net just below them, I rationalize? Over the years it has worked most of the time. With one child now a young adult and mother and the next one ready at the edge of the nest to fly off to college, I feel pretty confident that this works...at least it works for my family...well, okay, it worked for my first and second circus clown.

Yeah, okay, I got lucky.

I imagine that my 3rd and 4th circus clowns will do just fine too as they continue to thrive and excel without my flying overhead. But my youngest? Well, with my youngest everything is different.

The obvious difference is that he is a boy and his four older siblings are girls. I never thought I would say this before my son completed our family circus, but boys are different from girls. OMG, the kid makes a weapon out of everything...even feathers...in spite of my passive, let's-all-hug-it-out values. He's a boy!

But not only is he a boy, he is truly our miracle, our hero. He started out life weighing only 1 pound 6 ounces and literally fit in my hand the day he was born! He spent 132 days in the NICU and underwent 9 surgeries by the age of 4. I appreciate how strong he is knowing full well the odds he has beaten just to survive, much less thrive yet I had to literally be reminded that it would be okay if he falls sometimes. In the last 8 years, he has fallen down a lot and, surprise, he hasn't broken...yet.

Still I can't help but be more protective of him and hover a little...okay, hover a lot. Now that he is school-aged, I see how he is regarded differently at school by peers, staff and parents in spite of the flowery speeches of inclusiveness and equal access.I know it would be completely wrong and inappropriate for me to beat up the playground bully but when I see him single out my son because of his size or what class he is in I have to tell you it is so hard, so very hard not to. But I do resist and allow the playground hierarchy handle the bully because my boy is actually quite the popular guy on campus.Of course he is!

Recently I hovered perhaps too closely...close enough the whole school felt the WHOOSH-WHOOSH of wind from my helicopter blades spinning in the air. Our school held their annual Tortoise and Hare jogathon fundraiser and, as always, kicked off the pledge drive with a big assembly to pump up the kids with promises of prizes galore and an ice cream party for each classroom that turned in $500 in pledges. Even in this teetering economy that can't be too hard with classes of 24-30+ students. But wait, I wondered. What about the special ed class, the class of only 10 students? The PTA assures me that they too can have the party if they raise the funds. After all, we are all about inclusiveness and they were at the big kick-off assembly where they got pumped up with visions of ice cream parties dancing in their heads. Still it somehow didn't strike me as all that fair.

And that is when I jumped into my super mommy helicopter to save the day. I shamelessly blogged about it. Ah the power of social media! People who regularly follow my adventures in juggling and my boy growing and thriving jumped right on that bandwagon taking it to Twitter and Facebook and the nether regions of the interwebs. At the end of the day, er, the end of the fundraising period my boy turned in pledges totally $545! Once again, the tortoise wins the race!

Was this fair? Perhaps not. I know the PTA moms who know that I blog and look at me like they might look at a weird, hairy insect crawling on the sidewalk because I "blog" might not think it is fair. But seeing my son glow with pride when he turned in his pledge sheet and then see him RUN 13 laps without stopping on that ball field made all that hovering of mine worth it. I still let him fall down sometimes. Like when he is learning to master his two-wheeler without training wheels...of course I have to cringe and look the other way...but I do. But this time, this day, I'm glad I can sometimes fly the mommy-copter.

This is a 50-something Moms Blog original post. Laura Scarborough writes about her juggling adventures including watching her amazing son falling down and learning to master riding his two-wheeler over at Adventures In Juggling.