And then I second guessed myself …

Posted 09/28/15 6:55 PM by

I’m trying to find balance.

I’m trying to find a place where hanging on and letting go can play nice in the pool.

I called the high school guidance counselor this morning. Cooper filled out several college apps over the past few weeks–I have done little more than proof read for him. He has handled it, finding web sites, making decisions, gathering information. He ran into a glitch with his Saginaw Valley app. The college’s website was causing a few errors in the submission process and he was hesitant to send it in. I offered to call for him and help him get it settled.

And then I second guessed myself.

After all it was during school hours. He can’t call then. And it needs to be done. We need to cross it off the list. I called. They were wonderful, helped us — me — figure out the issue and even waived our application fee for my trouble.

And then I second guessed myself.

Should I have let him call? He would have had the feeling of gratefulness that I did. He would have a sense of what SVSU may be like, how helpful and attentive they were. Where is the damn line in the sand? I can’t see it.

During my phone call, the woman–Kathy–reminded me to have his ACT scores sent. I nodded and wrote a note. Certain he had added SVSU to his ACT “send reports” list I didn’t think much of it. Today, coming home from yoga I thought — his ACT scores should have been there months ago! I better call again. So I did. All set. They arrived.

And then I second guessed myself.

I don’t know when to step in, when to step out. I am dancing with this child and am afraid to step on his toes, but I’m unsure if he’s ready to lead me.  I’m unsure if I’m ready to be lead.

I read an article last week on helicopter parenting. The definition was (and I paraphrase): 1) doing something for a child that the child could do himself, 2) doing something for the child that they can almost do themselves, 3) making parenting decisions based on your own ego, not your child’s best interest. Hmmm … to be clear I don’t think I am a helicopter parent. I think I sometimes hover too close for a bit, I think I worry too much, but I think I do a fair job encouraging independence, failure and natural consequences.

And then I second guessed myself.

Aiden and I were talking last week about the movie “Inside Out”. Aiden says, “It’s such a cool movie, momma. It’s like if you don’t have the bad, you can’t feel the good. Like, it wouldn’t be that cool if it was sunny every day. It has to rain sometimes.” Deep breath. Watching our kids fail is painful, that’s obvious. But watching them stumble is maybe just as difficult, and harder to stick to.

Cooper could have figured out how to call SVSU. He could have figured out how to call the counseling office to double check his ACT scores were sent, also.  It would have taken more time … it would have taken a different kind of effort on my part … but he could have done it. And he would have been rewarded not by being able to cross the item off on his list of things to do … but with new knowledge about the college application system, knowledge he gained organically, on his own. Shit.

And then I second guessed myself.

In my mind a helicopter parent is one who hovers closely, at the ready, preparing for disaster, carefully constructing their children’s environment and future. I mean, seriously, Jackson has broken 18 bones, that fact alone should disqualify me from the hover gang. There are times when not hoovering comes naturally to me. And then there are parts where fly bys are my go-to. This process of letting go, it’s hard. Finding a balance between giving them freedom and opportunities to grow and learn while maintaining boundaries and structure, rules and security is difficult. The article I read cited 84% of college freshman feeling overwhelmed by responsibility. 60.5% feel quite sad, 57% feel lonely. I absolutely don’t want that for him.

And then I second guessed myself.

When I was talking to the guidance counselor at school on the phone, I must have said 4 times, “I’m just calling you because he is at school. I’m just filling in, helping him out.” “He has filled out all of his own applications,” I said. “I’m just doing a few things on his to do list,” I repeated. The counselor, Nancy, was wonderful. I could hear the smile in her voice. “That’s great that he filled out his own apps” she said. “I have lots of kids who I never talk, ever. I only ever talk to their parents and then they get out on their own and don’t know how to handle it!” You are doing okay she said, in between her words.

And then I stopped second guessing myself … for a minute.

Jackson came to me with a problem a short time ago–he was wishing he had handled a situation differently. Done more than he did. What I said was, “The only thing we can do in life when we screw up, or when we don’t live up to our own expectations, is learn. Figure out how to do it better the next time, and learn.” Time to follow my own advice.  Reading the helicopter parenting article opened my eyes a bit. I am not an extreme helicopter parent, but I have learned that I take over the controls when I don’t need to. Nothing I didn’t know, I suspect, but framing it with different words, different view is helpful to bring it to light. Make decisions a little easier. Learn and grow … and move on.

Take care,

Lara

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