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My Helicopter

Things I have heard myself saying lately:

“Don’t sit on your sister.”; “Don’t pull your sister down the hall by her pajama pant.” “Where’s Addie?” “How did Addie get behind the sofa?”

It seems my little Addie, (who is now 17 months old), is starting to become her own. She is walking, climbing, laughing at Audrey, chasing Audrey, waving hi and bye, clapping and again, laughing at Audrey. Audrey officially has an audience. How fabulous! Everyone told me that it will be so great ‘once the girls can play together, you’ll get more time to get things done.’… uuummmm, really?

We live in a small rancher house. So there is only so many places that the girls can go. The house is baby-proofed (and actually adult proof as our poor friends and family can’t open the baby gate either!) so I know in my heart the girls are technically safe. But that’s the key word: technically. Technically I know the cabinets have baby locks, technically I know the outlets are all baby-safe… but my reality tells me I can’t leave them alone for a minute. (Hence the “don’t sit on your sister” comment…) Addie seems to have a way to wiggle herself into any small crevice, to find any minute piece of debris left on the carpet and put it in her mouth and to encourage her big sister by laughing hysterically while Audrey is dragging her down the hall by her pajama pant.

I know that ‘back in the day’ parents were not as ‘stalker-like’, however, I have become what they today call, a “helicopter Mom”… apparently I hover a little too much. And I admit I am totally guilty. I got my “helicopter’s license” along with Audrey’s birth certificate because the moment I brought her home and ever since then I hover over her (and now Addie, too) like the Coast Guard. This is not an exaggeration either. I hover at birthday parties, in the play room, the backyard, the playground and even long-distance by calling daycare to ‘check on them.’ I can picture in my head the woman atschool when she sees it is me calling on the caller ID… “Didn’t Sam just call an hour ago? The girls are STILL napping…” And yes, I even hover via technology by this fancy little device called a video monitor… it’s a snappy little gadget invented by, I am sure, the husband of a helicopter Mom because he couldn’t take hearing his wife say, “Did you check on the baby?” one more time! So now when I go to bed I have a video monitor next to me where I can watch Addie sleep… and breathe… and move… yes, it is that bad. I justify my behavior by saying that Addie has so many health issues that I am just a little sensitive to her needs… but what that translates into is: “my children are my life and I am terrified something will happen to them.”

When both the girls are in the playroom playing I can hear the clamor from the kitchen while I am doing things and it is impossible for me to just ‘let them be.’ I mean, I let them play, but I am constantly peaking my head in to make sure Audrey isn’t using Addie has a ladder or step-stool or to make sure Addie is choking on some small piece of something that I didn’t see on the carpet. God forbid it gets quiet… my helicopter is revved up in 2 seconds flat as I fly down to the playroom to do a search and rescue. Usually I am greeted by Audrey and Addie looking up at me and Audrey saying “What, Mom?” And then I find myself justifying to a 3 year old why her Mother is stalking her... “Just making sure you two are okay… do you need anything?” … which is usually answered with them going back to playing.

I wish I could be a laid back kind of Mom. You know, the Mom that casually has her hand on her hip when her husband comes home from work and asks where the kids are and would answer, “In the playroom the last I saw them.” But I can actually give a full report as if I was giving a police sketch artist a description for a CSI episode. If asked where the kids are, it would go something like this: “Audrey is building a block tower in her princess tent, complete with 2 chairs from her dollhouse and a table, however, Addie is determined to get into the tent to “check it out” (i.e. knock it over like King Kong). Audrey has on her Princess Belle dress-up dress and Addie took both her socks off, again, and is using the toy hammer as a teething ring. And yes, they’re both breathing and no one is choking or in harm’s way” (just kidding on the last part… the first part is pretty accurate though.)

So how do you ‘break the habit’? How do you not be a helicopter Mom? Will my license expire? Does it come naturally? Will Audrey and Addie eventually need a Mommy restraining order?!

Addiehad anothersurgerybackin February. she will be starting therapy soon and has more dr.'s appointments to go to....I am already thinking about these appointments. I am already hovering over Addie either by person or technology to make sure her breathing really is okay, as she has some breathing problems. And on the other end, I am already planning how to prepare Audrey each time I leave with Addie for appointments or hospital stays. So I guess, for now, my helicopter isn’t going anywhere… I can only hope that as time goes by the helicopter goes from daily/nightly search and rescue to as needed fly-by’s.

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