Parent Anxiety: When You’re The One Holding Them Back

One of a series of First Day of School images, showing a young girl going through the emotions of getting on the bus for the first time.

When my daughter started school this year she had one requested; she wanted to ride the bus. This could have been her only request because she didn’t really understand what she was getting herself into by going to elementary school. Nevertheless, the idea of her riding the bus almost gave me a panic attack.

Parenting Anxiety: When you're the one holding them back - The Everyday Mom Life

When she asked if she could do it my response was, “Eh, we’ll see.”

What I really meant to say was, “No way in hell. It cost way too much to get you here alive and healthy and I love you more than life itself.”

I’ve tried not to be a helicopter parent. Despite my tendencies to try and protect her from everything, I’ve really made an effort to take a step back recently and let her spread her wings.

Spreading those wings onto an over-sized piece of metal on wheels without seat belts and questionable turning abilities was a little much for my mama heart.

But it was more than that.

Aside from my concerns over someone snatching her and school bus accidents, my biggest concern was her. She gets so easily distracted and doesn’t pay attention to what she is supposed to be doing a lot of the time. I was very worried she would be in her own little world, or laughing with friends, and not fully listen to where she was supposed to be headed. I imaged her ending up lost, alone and not fully knowing my phone number.

After years of heavy parenting anxiety I finally feel like I’ve started to relax the past few months. Being home with the kids all the time has made me cherish the moments they are away with other family members for the quiet, calm and if it’s overnight, the sleep. However, the idea of her riding that big, yellow school bus gave me motion sickness.

She was persistent. She asked me every time the subject of school came up in the weeks leading to her first day.

When other people asked her about it she told them she was going to ride the bus. They then looked at me with an eyebrow raised.

I was actually surprised that she wanted it so badly. She isn’t a huge fan of stepping outside her comfort zone and she didn’t know anyone at school or really know anyone in our neighborhood well.

After talking to a friend who experienced the same thing with her daughter the year before, I finally gave in.

She desperately wanted this experience and I didn’t want to feel like my fear was the thing holding her back. How was that fair?

When she was very young I kept her from going to sleepovers with family or outings with my mom – afraid she would fall down the basement stairs or would be in a car accident. As she got older, I was always with her when she played outside, even though we have a fenced in backyard.

I realized I had done that to her a lot in her little life. After struggling so much to have a child I tried to safeguard myself from losing her in every way possible.

But recently I recognized that I wasn’t really keeping her safe, I was keeping her from living. Sure it was just little things, but if I couldn’t deal with the little things how was I ever going to handle bigger things?

I knew we would get to a point in life where I was standing in her way – where my fear was holding her back.

I didn’t realize that point would come in the shape of a giant, yellow vehicle full of school children who aren’t strapped into a seat. (Can we seriously just get some seatbelts?!?!)

Not only that but when I did the math, school pick up would fall right at the tail end of my son’s nap meaning I’d have to wake him up early to go get her.

With a deep breath and a heavy sigh I counted on those strangers at school to put my child on the correct bus and make sure she didn’t get distracted along the way. I counted on that bus driver (who coincidently looks like Santa Claus) to get my baby home to me safely. But most of all I counted on my daughter to be a big girl, pay attention to directions and take care of herself a bit.

That was the hardest part of all.

They all did it though. The school administrators, the bus driver and my baby girl all rose to the occasion She was delivered home to me in one piece that first day (and every day since). Not only that but that first day she came running off the bus with a big smile on her face and flung herself into my arms. It was the best hug.

Bus stop pick up in now my favorite time of the day and if you ask my daughter she will always tell you that riding the bus is the best part of her’s.

The bus may only take her from school to home, but the budding desire to try new things and take some chances will take her anywhere. How could I stand in the way of that?

Parenting Anxiety: When you're the one holding them back - The Everyday Mom Life


  1. You sound just like my mom and it’s okay! We have had the same struggles throughout the years and she is still slowly learning to relax…( I am in my 20s ) Now when I look back and see all the things my mom might have been “over protective about” I honestly thank her. It may have been a crazy way of showing it but I always know it was her way of protecting and loving me! Even when it took her a almost a year to let me walk to school by myself. It’s completely natural and one day shell love you for it!

  2. It’s so hard to let go. There is a fine line that is hard to balance between keeping them safe and not safe enough. Ultimately, it is important for them to have a little independence and that is what I try to do (while keeping a watchful eye from a distance lol). Great post and keep up the great work Mama!

  3. It’s seriously so hard to let go sometimes, but it’s something that has to be done, little by little. My mom was always holding me back. To the point of volunteering all day in schools all the way to high school. I wanted to run away. That ruined our relationship. You are doing awesome!
    Mom Insane Fit

  4. I can not imagine what letting go is like. I don’t have any of this type of experience. But I do know what it’s like to have parents who control everything you do. As a child it was so wonderful to make my own choices and feel safe because I was trust enough to do it. It’s an empowering feeling and I am glad you are giving that to your daughter.

  5. It’s normal as parents for us to have these fears because we don’t want anything bad happening to our kids. We try to protect them the best we can.

  6. I can’t blame you because all you want is to keep your baby girl safe as much as you can. Although you’re right about her not living enough because you’re limiting her, you’re still her mom and your concern will always be her safety. I think it’s nice that you’re letting go a little though.

  7. This is the story of my life. I feel like my 6 year old is ready for anything and I’m always the one questioning if he’s ready.

  8. Great article. I try extremely hard to give my kids independence even at their young age. I have seen with my own eyes that it allows them to be more confident in their choices, and to be able to articulate what they want and why. However, I do go through a lot of panic attacks within as the rope is loosened.

    Thrifting Diva

  9. While I’m not there yet, I can relate to this so much. I feel like if I don’t get my anxiety in check now, my children will suffer as a result. 🙁

    I’m so glad to hear you’re both handling this transition well! xo

  10. I was so overly protective when my oldest was younger. But now that I have another child I’ve loosened up a bit. You have to let them grow and learn how to handle situations on their own to be able to thrive.

  11. This is one of the reasons I say the hardest job I had to undertake was to be a Mom because I worried a lot for my kid….and at any stage too! I internalize it so she wouldn’t think I am smothering too much.

  12. my six year old daughter gets to do quite a bit, her new thing is riding her razor at the skate park with all the big kids and cruising up and down the ramps, but she doesn’t ride the bus. Besides all the things you mentioned, I’ve heard too many stories of harrasment and bullying from the big kids


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