The Day My Sister and I Became Helicopter Moms

I think I just confirmed my own worst fear – that I’ve become a Helicopter Mom. I ran off to the store, told J. that I would be right back. 45 minutes later finally got back – J. was gone. Dad was gone. Had no idea where either of them were.

Started calling Dad. No answer. Panic sets in. I’m checking basketball courts and picnic areas and skateboard park … just as I’m about to go behind the other buildings, I see Mr. Tall and Lanky popping down the steps of the building next to us where his friend lives. My heart is in my throat, I get in the house right behind him and ream him a new one for not letting me know he was going out of the house.

“I told Dad to tell you, Mom,” he says looking at me like I’d just grown another head.

“Your Dad wouldn’t answer his phone, so I did not know,” I replied.

I actually started crying. I cried because I didn’t know where my 14-year-old son was.

It’s not like he cannot take care of himself – he’s more than capable of being able to do that. I just don’t like leaving my children someplace and then coming home and they are not where I left them. Being the “Nervous Nellie” that I am, I worry.

I panicked. I think my sister’s phone call this morning at 8:20 a.m. had something to do with my senses being on over alert as well. Her daughter and my niece, Jae-Lynn, attends Franklin Regional Middle School in Murrysville, PA. The same school district that has been on the news all morning. She was in a panic because she did not know what was going on with her daughter. The reports were coming in that there were over 16 students injured but that the middle schools and elementary schools were on lockdown.

My beautiful niece, Jae-Lynn and I at Danielle's Wedding July 2013

I have been aghast, along with the rest of the world, over the school shootings that have happened in recent years, months. I have said countless prayers for those poor parents who have lost a child or had a child injured, prayed for the parents of the child or adult who did the harm. They were hurting too, because they had lost someone who they loved and cared for deeply.

We never understand though. You never understand until it is YOUR family, YOUR child, YOUR niece or nephew. By no means am I comparing myself to the parents of Sandy Hook who lost children, but I now have a better understanding of how they felt. I have felt that fear, I have felt that anxiety, I have heard the utter despair and fear in my sister’s voice this morning, and I have felt that completely helpless feeling of being in a place where I could not be there to comfort her. I could not wrap my arms around her and hold her and tell her it would be okay.

So when my son disappeared today and I did not know where he was – even though it was completely innocent and he was right next door – that moment made me realize just how over-protective we as parents have all become. Our society has dictated it, made it the norm instead of the abnormal. It is a shame when we cannot send our children to school and expect them to be as safe (if not safer) as they would be in their own home. It makes you feel as though you need to go to school with them, to make sure that they are safe, protected, watched over.

So today, due to circumstances beyond our control, my sister and I have become full-fledged helicopter moms. Never again will we be able to send our children off to school without worrying, without fretting, without some level of anxiety. We won’t ever be able to have them leave our sight for any length of time without those fears and anxieties rearing their ugly heads. It is something we’ll have to learn to live with, sadly, and hope and pray that we never have to go through something like this again.

For today, for this moment, now, we know where they are. Jae-Lynn is safe and back home (after the middle school lockdown was lifted and the children were sent home) and I know where my J-Man is. Safe inside our four walls, being the loveable silly clown that he is, pretending he’s a turtle and playing with the dog. Chilling in the tote and texting on his phone. Hugging me and telling me its okay, he didn’t mean to scare me.

J-Man Pretending to be a Turtle and Messing with Molly

My J-Man Chilling in the Tote and Texting

For now, that’s enough.

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