I vehemently deny being a helicopter mother. I have neither hovered over my children nor followed them like a shadow. I am not a control freak; have given enough freedom to my children to charter their own course, at least this is what I perceive myself to be. I may not be a mother rooted in paranoia, but, to say that I have not been anxious about my children will be a gross lie. It is natural for a mother to feel concerned about the well-being of her children and to keep a tab on their whereabouts, friends and activities.
As long as my children were small, they did not mind my watchful eyes and instructions, but the equation changed as they entered into adolescence. They started resenting being monitored and hated to give me updates. Any counsel was unsolicited advice, an infringement of their space. Though my children remained well behaved, there were times I had to face sullen; even deceitful teens.
I recall an incident dating back to the times when call rates were high and even SMS was chargeable. While glancing over the mobile bill of my son, an engineering student, I got alarmed finding most messages directed to a particular number. Instinctively, I dialed the number. On the other side was Sid, my son’s best friend. Confused, I disconnected the call. Within a minute my son called back complaining, “Mamma, why did you call Sid? You are spying on me.”And that confirmed my doubt. Actually it was not Sid’s number but that of a lovely girl who later became my daughter-in-law. Let me now share behind the scene sequence. They were both hanging out with their group of friends. The moment our land line number flashed on her mobile, she handed her mobile to their common friend. Well, that is the phase when the youngsters and the parents try to outsmart each other. In this one-upmanship sometimes I won, sometimes I lost.
Parents of all species, of all generations keep an eye on their offspring. We resented being monitored, but now that we are parents, we tend to do the same, rather more invasively. Equipped with technology, the mobile, we are in a position to keep a constant tab on our children which they hate. I remember my college-going son had stored my number as ‘Hai Ram.’ How fed up he must have been with my frequent calls!
Now, both my sons are happily married, staying in different cities, the elder one in another country. But, at times I find myself asking such silly questions if they have taken their meals, what they have eaten. Sitting thousands of miles away, my husband insists that they post their tour itinerary every time they go out of station.
Well, I insist I am not a paranoid parent, but it is also true that I can’t get over the motherly instinct of feeling concerned about my children even though they are grown ups, leading their independent lives. The fact is, no matter the age, a child remains a child for the parent.
(Published in The Tribune as MIDDLE on February 11, 2021)