Ah yes… the number 21…

• It was the 21st Amendment which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, and re-legalized alcohol.

• A 21 gun salute comes from the time when the largest ships of the British navy had 21 guns along one side.

• It takes 21 days to break a bad habit.

You’ll probably do a quick internet check to look up numbers 1 and 2 – and I dare you to join me in a venture to validate number 3 because I promise, it’s a lot harder to do than you’d think – especially when you don’t even realize you have a bad habit to break.

As for bad habits… I have quite a few. I tend to drive about 5 miles (ok – 10) above the posted speed limit. I don’t always make the boys eat vegetables with dinner. I speak in a British accent after watching someone else on t.v. with one. I curse… like a sailor… on leave. But perhaps my most recent come-to-light bad habit is forgetfulness. Or, more aptly, I forget that my oldest child is not a baby – despite the fact that in my eyes he will always be just that… my baby.

It’s not just a little humbling when someone else points out that perhaps it’s time I stop hovering over my kid (which would be a funny image if he weren’t 6’1 to my 5’3) and let him act as though he is in fact, almost 17 years old. I don’t know that 21 days stands a chance after 16 years of hovering, and worrying, and coddling, and okay, yes, accompanying him to school, but it is something that now that it’s been pointed out to me is something I have to look at.

Until recently, I didn’t let Nick just roam the town with his friends. I had to stop and consider if I would let him go to an R rated movie with his 18 year old best friend. I set out a laundry list of do’s and don’ts when I let him stay a week with his cousin before school started. Wow… even as I type it out I cringe a little to hear how suffocating I sound.

Yet, the best way to solve a problem is to admit there is one. So in that knowledge, I admit, HI. My name is Wendy. I am a hovering helicopter parent, clearly deluded, and living in a fantasy land where my child will never ever grow up. Ever. Just like people who count to ten before speaking to prevent themselves from saying something inappropriate, I have to now stop, and ask myself if I am possibly contributing to what promises to be an already hefty mom-induced therapy bill.

Still, pun completely intended, a few baby-steps (again) and not just a little self-awareness may be the key to this particular parenting problem. For instance, thanks to regular visits to a (I can say it with my head held high now) life-coach, this is the year that I will follow through on all punishments, even if it hurts me more than it does him (who ever thought that phrase would be true… and used in real life?). This is the year that he ventures out into the real world and looks for a job, the better to help with future car insurance. And, I swear, I promise, this will be the year that I only utter five curse words in a day instead of ten (I did mention they would be baby-steps, right?).

The point is, sometimes, you miss a few things when you look in the mirror, and it takes someone else pointing out the toilet paper stuck to your shoe before you realize maybe you’re not as well put together as you thought you were. So with a little patience, and a lot of baby steps, I may just learn a valuable life lesson and allow my kid grow up a little, without me peering over his shoulder, and maybe in the process, even reduce his therapy sessions by a visit or two.

What about you guys, do you find it hard to recognize the growth in your own kids? How did you handle it?


More from GEM:

The GEM Debate: Does Romney’s Pick of Paul Ryan Make the Race More Interesting?

Our Story Begins: Why I’m Teaching My Kid To Face Reality, Not Chase Reality (TV)

Ask the Good Enough Guy: I Think My Friend’s Wife Might Be Having an Affair… Now What?

Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A.  Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler