You know the type: some of us hover over our children at the park. We may frantically yell, but it’s out of fear rather than anger. We see danger in every situation and think of every possible negative outcome in a situation. We are the “be careful” moms, and we use the term multiple times a day.
Every time my child climbs a play structure at a park, I envision him falling off of it somehow and cracking his skull open. Small rocks and wood chips look like choking death hazards to me. An innocent ride on Dad’s shoulders makes my heart stop; what if our kid decides to throw his body backwards and plummet to his death? Don’t even get me started on jumping on the couch and the placement of our coffee table. I usually move it far, far away by 9 a.m., because, anxiety.
You won’t find me hiking our local mountains or trails with my toddler strapped to my body. To be fair to myself, a walk to the park with my child can be adventurous enough on the best of days.
Although I see danger everywhere, I do my best to make that my own problem and not the problem of my son. Like parents everywhere, I am continually trying to find the balance between exposing my child to a variety of different experiences and skill-building opportunities while playing within my own boundaries, as well.
You see, I didn’t intend on being the anxious mom. I remember cradling my pregnant belly, talking about how I valued the old-school parenting style of letting your kids play freely outside as long as they were home by dinnertime. I talked about my beliefs of independence and the merit in letting your children fall and fail without immediate interjection. Oh, I had dreams of being the relaxed mom, talking freely with the other relaxed moms as our kids did who knows what without feeling the need to scan the playground every ten seconds in panic. I really wanted to be that mom, but then my son Maverick was born — and like all mothers before me, I quickly learned that there was a difference between the mom I thought I would be and the mom I actually was.
Yes, I am the anxious mom. The mom who realizes her children will most likely complain to one another one day about how overly protective she was. How embarrassing she was for being a few feet away from them at the park, or how silly for gritting her teeth whenever Dad let them do bum-drops on the bed. Perhaps I won’t always be the anxious mom and the very thought of the idea will make my children laugh, because I am also the mom who owns her shortcomings while actively working on them. One day, maybe, I won’t be the anxious mom. Today, though, I am an anxious mom, and it is nice to meet you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to keep a (close) eye on my kids.
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