A helicopter mom I am not. However, I am a mom who stalls and drags her feet at certain milestones when it comes to my daughter. She's almost 12, and she's an amazingly sweet girl and has earned herself a bit of freedom. I let her go to school dances (as if I had a choice because it's either let her go or listen to her huffs and puffs all night while ignoring me as she sits on her Kindle). I got her a cell phone (but I make her buy her own minutes and I have free reign to check the damn thing any time I want). She roams our new neighborhood with her friends and always is diligent about calling and checking in letting me know she hasn't been abducted. So I figured the time has come to let her walk home from school. There really is no reason to say no. The route that takes her from school to our new house has sidewalks and they're really all side streets anyway. Hell, she has a cell phone which she can hopefully quickly dial 911 fast enough should my town hold a crazy abductor or some shit I freak myself out with on a weekly basis.
So I decided three weeks ago to give this a try; let her walk home from school all by her big girl self with one rule; call me when you're leaving school and call me when you get home. As an aside, I should mention at this time that her father informed me that he would be following her in the car to make sure she was all right. This in turn reminded me of when my dad told me he followed me once upon a time when I walked to the corner store for, gasp, penny candy. It was awesome. Not only was I scoring mom points for letting her walk home by herself, but I needn't worry cause dear old dad is apparently more paranoid than I am. I am proud to say that she did exactly as she was told and called me both when she left and when she got home safe and sound.
Let's fast forward to quitting time for me at work where all I had to do was go home. There were zero stops to be made. There were zero concerns that I was going to hit traffic and be late picking her up. In fact, I was thinking to myself as I pulled into my driveway -- why the hell hadn't I done this earlier in the school year. This shit was awesome and opened up a whole new world of possibilities - FOR ME!!! Shit, I could run errands after work while she walked home and did her chores. Shit, I could work late and grab some extra cash while she walked home and did her chores. Shit, I could just have a little extra "me" time and take the long way home and sing at the top of my lungs to my tunes semi-carefree.
Yes, re-reading this I realize how selfish I sound, but I know for a fact, anyone with kids that have been up their asses for years now can share in my happiness of a little extra time in their day being their own. It's not a lot but 15 minutes is all it takes to put a new perspective on things. I don't care that I sound selfish because I know from the get-go it wasn't ever about me. I had her best interest in mind the entire time. I am just excited to have found a benefit for me in all of this that I will take full advantage of.
I am realistic though and realize I will drag my feet when the next milestone comes along because that's just the kind of mom I am. I want to make sure my kids are ready for the next phase of their world. I know sometimes you have to throw them into it and let them experience it, but I refuse to do it blindly for them. I am just hoping that in all my nail-biting, feet-dragging mommy moments, I am helping, not hindering them along the way -- just like my very vague job description tells me to. I love those little shits of mine. They make me so very proud and prove to me that no matter how often I think I'm failing them I really am doing something right by them.