Paranoid or Protective: Is My Mothering Over The Top?
I've always been an extremely protective mother. When my daughter was born, I wouldn't let anyone stand up and hold her - not even my parents. I forced everyone to sit down, and I hovered over them like a crazy person if they stood up for even one quick minute. I was sniped at, huffed at, and eye-rolled but I didn't care - in my eyes I was keeping my baby safe.
The problem was rooted in a story that a friend of mine had told me just a month before my daughter was born - a grandmother was holding her 2 month old grandbaby and walking down the driveway to check the mail when she tripped and fell. Grandma had a scraped knee, but what was horrifying to me was that the baby died. Infants are fragile and in their wildest dreams no one would have ever predicted that would have happened - but it did. It didn't mean grandma was incompetent, or that she didn't successfully raise 6 children of her own. It just means that accidents happen.
But I'm sorry - I wasn't willing to take the chance with my child. So anyone who wanted to hold my daughter sat down. No ifs ands or buts. I got a lot of flack for that one.
And it's not just that one thing that made me nervous. I wouldn't let her get in a car with anyone else - not even her grandparents. She is five now, but I still cringe when she pulls out of the driveway with one of them (and wonder if they will be able to properly use the car seat to make sure she is buckled in tightly enough). Until she was 4 she never spent the night out at grandma's - ever, unless I was there. The idea of something happening and me not being there to be able to help her was too heavy for me to shake. I'm what you might call a dweller - all I need is to hear one story like the one above and I can't for the life of me let it go. It's really not a healthy thing, and I do know that. But part of me feels justified knowing that I've done all that I can to keep her safe in her life - even if it is exhausting for me. (And really, it is exhausting.)
As she has gotten older, I've had to learn to let go a bit. We live in California, and I often have to put her on an airplane with her father to fly to Louisiana where he lives. Of course, he flies with her so in my mind I lessen the risk a bit - but I'm still a nervous wreck until she is on the ground in New Orleans.
Recently I find that her friend's parents are asking if she can come over for a play date - and that they expect me to drop her off. The idea is comical to me - why would I leave my child with someone that I barely know? I know we have done the birthday party/school picnic thing but to me that's not enough time to know someone - especially well enough to have them be solely responsible for the well-being of my child, even if it is for a few hours. What I really want to say is "I'm sorry, I haven't done the proper background check on you/your husband/your older son/your neighbor/your gardener/your housekeeper - but hey, can we take a rain check?".
Is this the norm now that she is 5 - other parents inviting her over to play without me present? Does anyone else find this unsettling or am I the only one? Maybe I shouldn't read or watch the news - the stories make me paranoid - but I can't help feeling that in today's society maybe my overly-protective stance is not too far off base.
What kind of parent are you? Am I paranoid or am I just plain over-protective? You be the judge.