Hovering

Blimp in the sky
My childhood was tightly controlled. Every aspect of my life was minutely scrutinized and managed. 

I was not allowed to ever spend the night at a friend’s house. I went to a friend’s house once in grade school. Only once. My first sanctioned date was to a church to deliver fruit to shut-ins on Halloween night when I was almost 17. The guy who had asked me out was required to participate in a 30 minute interview process prior to being allowed to drive me less than five miles to the church. That interview ran the gamut from current grades, college plans, statement of faith, general health, etc. Physical contact with members of the opposite sex was strictly forbidden, going so far as not allowing me to give a male friend a platonic hug at his graduation. He hugged first. I guess I was supposed to run away screaming. My punishment for that hug back was to write 1,500 times, “I will obey my mother.” I was a junior in high school. My library books were prescreened before I could check them out until I was 18. I was not allowed to learn to drive until I graduated from high school. Dancing, ear piercing, and make-up were against the rules and the Smurfs were not allowed (Gargamel used magic doncha know). 

So when my kids started playing with the neighbor kids, I found myself hovering. It was suddenly necessary to inspect the yard for mushrooms. Rake leaves. Hunt for pecans. Maybe I’ll just wander around looking disinterested while spying on their conversations. 

What am I afraid of?

I’m afraid that my kids will do something offensive, something that will get them labeled as weird or bullied or worse. I am afraid that someone will hurt them, physically or emotionally or sexually.

But I am also afraid that my kids will be judged unfairly because they are *my* kids. That they will be used as pawns in an attempt to get to me. The whole doctor thing. I have been burned before.

Because of the control I experienced as a kid, it is exceedingly difficult to let go of control of my own kids. It is all I know. BUT as I commented to someone yesterday, I am not raising pets. I am trying to grow a couple of independent human beings. 

My kids make jokes about butts and farts and you find that offensive? Maybe it’s your fault for letting your kids play with mine. Your kids are going to pick on my kiddos? My son and daughter are very, very good at karate. You want our kids to make friends so you can say you hang with the doctor? Well fine. I cannot assume everyone has ulterior motives, can I? I will cut you off if necessary. 

So this weekend when they all started playing together again I forced myself to let it go. I went inside and busied myself making homemade marshmallows. I even closed the back door. 

And you know what? They did just fine without me. 

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110 thoughts on “Hovering

  1. I was brought up vaguely feral, in a nice, loving way – not in an abandoned-couldn’t-be-bothered sort of way. I think I gave my poor mum multiple heart attacks during the teenage years. But I made it through okay. I hope your kids tell all the fart jokes they can and show the bully kids who’s boss. With a mother like you I bet they are just awesome. Now, these homemade marshmallows sound very interesting indeed – that is some pretty impressive parenting right there!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Gah, I’m sorry for the totally creepy control you grew up with. I went through something similar, survivalists, preppers, the whole world was going to end.

    When we had our kids, I went for “benign neglect.” That’s a funny phrase coined by some older ladies where you just leave kids be, but pick them up when they fall down. Less interference, more just letting them learn, but keeping the perimeter around them secure so they don’t run out into the street. Lots of talking and listening. We talked a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. About the only parental control I had growing up, was the offer of $100 if I didn’t drink before the legal age…..I collected my $100 then began a 2 year trek through alcohol and drug experimentation. Kids are remarkably resilient, …would you go so far as to say, you were subject to a form of emotional abuse growing up? If not, what terms would you use besides controlling? Hugs/ Doc. I am so glad you came out the other side of that stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I spent many years very bitter about my childhood. I like to think I am past that anger now. It brings to question what rights do you have as a kid. Are you really “entitled” to anything more than a roof over your head, food, clothes? I don’t think people understand what it is like to grow up like I did, though. I am not entirely sure it was healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Farts are proof to me that God has a sense of humor! I’m so glad you’re letting your kids just be kids…life’s too short to grow up too fast. In fact, I may decide to NEVER grow up entirely. Take THAT Universe…I’m gonna be a kid forever! If I play it right, I just may be telling fart jokes when I’m 103! 🙂

    With Love,

    Stargazer

    Liked by 2 people

  5. OH MY! Thanks for being so open in this post. I can’t imagine that kind of childhood, but I would say from what I know of you online that you have turned out just fine. AND that you are being a wonderful Mom to your kids 🙂 There really is no perfect guide on how to raise kids! Follow your heart <2 and yes our kids will surprise us on how well they do without us supervising all the time 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Like Elyse we were pretty much “free range”, but I grew up in the mid 50s and 60s in Scotland and life was very different from today – but to some extent it was controlled and there were things that were expected of us as we were growing up – Church with parents – then Sunday School, Junior Bible Class, Bible Class, Church beside parents, Youth Fellowship, Boys Brigade ( girls it was the Girl Guides), then Church membership and some of us became Sunday School and Junior Bible Class teachers. Yes there was some limited control of our lives but it was a much looser control and largely because our parents trusted us and only very rarely did we ever let them down. I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me, but I believe that society was much safer then.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Victo, I went back to read your about page. I was trying to figure out why you were brought up so strict and did this have anything to do with your thinking that your children might be judged unfairly because they are your kids. Anyway, I was glad to read the way you ended your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is probably more of a self inflicted thing. I feel like people are judging my clinical skill based on how clean my car is, is my daughter’s hair always brushed, what about my son’s runny nose? It is mostly my issue and not anyone else’s. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Trust that you have raised them to have good judgment, even for kids. I always felt sorry for kids who experienced “helicopter parenting”. We had so much freedom growing up in the 60’s, we survived. They will too, Doc. Baby steps in letting go… 💘

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My mother was really strict in many ways (for dating and schoolwork in particular), but in the 50’s it was “put the kids out to play”–punishment if not home in time for dinner, but otherwise leave her alone. I myself went the opposite with schoolwork (it’s your responsibility and job, not mine), but I definitely hovered somewhat anxiously when my girls were young. On the other hand, the older one used to yell at me that I wasn’t strict enough with the younger one…I think you can’t win really. Just do the best you can without making constant anxiety for yourself. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are a great Mom and I think you have a handle on protecting and hovering verses too much freedom. They will be wonderful adults. Just keep doing what you are doing.
    We are not our past…. ( says one who needs to hear it often)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow…. I thought I was reading a piece of fiction when I read about your childhood… All summer in Lithuania, I watched kids, 4-15 yrs old by themselves, running through town, going to stores to pick up something, taking care of younger ones, etc. My kids, 5 and 8, were labeled as completely “in-independent” for not wanting to do things without mommy. Of course, when I was a kid, starting age 7, I would come home from school, key on my neck on rubber band, and would make myself something to eat, then do whatever we pleased waiting for parents to come back at 6 pm.. Of course we burned many pots making our homemade candy, dig through parents ‘adult’ books, and what not. 🙂 I am trying to let my kids lose and let them do what they wish with their friends, and funny thing is – they do not want to!
    Have you read or listened to Lenore Skenazy – e.g. Free Range Kids?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That’s a crazy childhood and yet you seem perfectly normal on the outside.😊 But appearances are deceiving.
    So do you feel you overcompensate in allowing your children to be “free” or does your childhood still influence your thoughts/decisions?
    Also…just curious…when you were younger did you realize your childhood was different than others it was it just what you knew?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I was a free range kid – my parents seldom if ever hovered, set few rules, and generally just told me that I knew what they expected and to behave appropriately. I must admit I was tempted to hover over my kids, but didn’t.Yes, they each did one or two things we did not approve of, but lessons were learned from them. And looking back they were pretty minor. So my hat’s off to you to let your kids grow up, not stifling them and letting them learn life’s lessons, despite your own childhood experiences. And look at you! How far you flew when you escaped the net.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. My parents have always been strict. I wasn’t allowed to go over to a friend’s house unless they planned on staying at home the whole time. No outings with anyone other than my parents, no one else could drive me anywhere for any reason even until I was a college graduate. I’m 31 now, and I don’t have permission to meet with a guy friend – just a friend…
    sigh. such is life…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I remember running wild in my childhood…of course I like in the Olympic National Park…the beach was my yard…and the campers were who we taunted relentlessly in the summer…LOL sorry you had such a controlled childhood, however, when my kids were growing up, there were never allowed out in the front yard alone…my kids were raised in California…I trusted no one….but I did allow them out and about in their teen years…..and sleep overs….couldn’t hold them back…LOL your a good mum…never hurts to be safe….but the more they learn about the world, the safer they will be…..kat

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I had utter abandon with my father and pretty strict policy with my mother.
    I lean toward my mother’s way, but even that was nowhere near what you describe your childhood like. I’m glad you’re breaking the mold you were set in.

    Also? I find it weird that anyone is so invested in getting to know the child’s parents. Maybe it’s a suburban thing? I dunno, can’t relate. I’m sorry you experience that. People looking for favors, I guess? Sassy’s friend Zo, her mom does hair. She does Sassy’s hair. Now and again, she does Moo’s. We pay her to. lol I only know what a handful of my kids’ friends’ parents do. I’m more interested in their political views and their understanding of allergies! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is status that goes with being friends with the doctor. It was really shocking to leave residency and start practicing in a community and all of a sudden everyone wants to be your friend. You go from being persona non grata your whole life to now being “popular”. So there is the status of the relationship that some seek, for others it is wanting to be able to text you about their kid’s fever at 2AM. It isn’t about people caring about you for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. What a terrible childhood! Thankfully, my parents had to work and nobody ever checked if we had done homework or not. We went wherever we wanted, very early. Friends came to see us every day, we cooked lunches. We had to work a lot, but there was lots of freedom. I believe young parents raise kids so that they become self-sufficient and have lots of confidence. My daughter was and still is my best friend, I also looked very young until 30, so most people thought we were sisters. That was nice! Kids need freedom and parents have to allow their children to live. Responsibly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can look back on my childhood now and understand that it made me who I am. It drove me to make something of myself so I could get out of that world. So it served a purpose. If I had been happy and content I probably wouldn’t have done med school. 🙂

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  18. My parents sent us out to play in the morning and asked no questions when we came home tired, mud-soaked and happy for supper at 5. My brother still blames my parents for not hovering, pushing him harder and taking a greater interest in his report cards. I don’t think you can win as a parent. 🙂

    I’ve never been good at making “mom” friends and avoided play dates for that reason. Women can be so competitive about snacks even. I found it exhausting.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Being a parent is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done! Overcoming my own childhood to be a balanced parent is hard but I try. I can’t, never could, understand why one parent would use another parent for their job status, socioeconomic status, etc. but I see it done. We are all just parents and our money. And jobs and labels don’t matter. They shouldn’t matter, having happy healthy children with friends we feel safe with them being with is what should matter. My daughter was raised to not judge on a label or money but to evaluate based on character and use her intuition. It is hard sending them out into the world.we can only do our best which you obviously are doing!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. i always read those things about how people don’t let their kids do this or that anymore and i’m all like, “oops.”
    i’m going to borrow your idea. “it was your fault for letting your kids play with my kids.”

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wow. Brave thing to write. I had a completely opposite childhood. My parents treated me like a grown up from the age of five. They expected me to be responsible and I was. It was a bit of neglect, but also gave me freedom.
    I tried to combine care with letting go. Did it work? Who knows?
    My adult kids think it did.
    Parenting is tough. And I’m sure you are a good parent.
    Lucie

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Love the honesty in your post. You sound like s great mother. I’ve that whole “doctor thing” up close with a relative…when she became a doctor, people we hadn’t heard a peep from in years all of a sudden started crawling out of the past in droves.🤔

    Liked by 1 person

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