Confessions of a Helicopter Mom

Monday, February 25th, 2013

LuluWith a title like that, you’d think I have a brood of kids. I don’t even have one — not of the human variety, anyway. But I discovered this past week that I am, most certainly and somewhat uncomfortably, a mom.

Lulu was really sick this past week for the first time in her almost five years. What started out as the sniffles on Tuesday ended up with her staying overnight at the vet on Wednesday for gastric stasis — likely brought on by the stress of the vet visit the day before. (She’d never been given syringe medication before, so she kind of flipped out.)

Given how dangerous this can be for rabbits, I was beyond concerned. I was positively obsessed. Despite trying not to worry, to take my mind off her… I couldn’t.  I’d heard stories of how quickly bunnies can go from stasis. They just “give up” from the pain. And I was terrified because she’d been swooped away by the vet so quickly without me getting a chance to really kiss her and say goodbye, so I was scared she might not come back.

We have one of the foremost rabbit vets in the country as our doctor, and the tech staff there is really great, so I knew she was in good hands, but that didn’t stop me from checking her room every 10 minutes, forgetting she wasn’t in there. Or revisiting the same scenarios in my head and talking them out to Mike, who was probably ready to toss me off the balcony at that point, but didn’t let on. (Thanks for that.)  I knew he was stressed, too, so I appreciated his calm while I fell apart.

It may seem small to people with human children, especially those with kids who undergo major medical procedures or live with challenges every day, but to me Lulu being sick or potentially gone was huge. Everything, really.  When I spoke to the vet and they told me they’d like to keep her overnight, my voice cracked as I asked if she would be left unattended overnight. And then I had to get off the phone because I was afraid I would flat out cry and officially become Crazy Bunny Lady, though certainly they’d seen much worse based on what I’ve seen at some rabbit events. Rabbit appliqued crocheted sweater vests make a few tears seem less crazy.

When Lulu was able to come home the following afternoon, I hovered. I fretted. I checked on her 18 times in as many minutes. I have never been more anxious to see poop in my life. I realized I was “helicoptering”… and that I was probably putting out too much anxious energy, so I had to chill out. We even left for a bit to give her some peace and I could eat my feelings.

Admittedly, in the past, while I tried to sympathize with friends who worried like maniacs whenever they were away from their kids, I never quite “got it”. I love my friends (and their kids), but when I’d hear moms say things like “I hope their father hasn’t accidentally set them on fire”  for the 30th time, you start to think, “Lady, relax. What can possibly happen? Have a drink before I roofie you.”

But I get it now, moms. (File that under things I never thought I’d say.) I could’ve used a roofie* or like, a tranquilizer dart.

To some, Lulu’s just a pet. But when you haven’t had any pets of your own in your adult life and you’re likely never going to have kids, you can invest a lot in your pets.  She’s a member of my family, my best girl, and ultimately an investment of 10 years of my life.

Never in a million years did I think going to the swap meet for a tacky birthday gift four and a half years ago would result in the best thing ever.


* Relax, I’ve been ruffied before, I’m allowed to throw it around casually if I want.

New-ish in drama, Life, Lulu
  • 2/25/13 16:52 Kathy:

    “Lady” would be me.

    Lulu is not a pet. She’s your people! I’m so glad she’s feeling better.


    • 2/25/13 16:56 Joelle:

      Haha! Not JUST you. Ok, you. xo


  • 2/25/13 17:18 Theresa:

    I feel the same way about my beagle Ginger, so I get it! I don’t intend to have any actual kids but she makes me feel like a mom, complete with the worry and frustration and overwhelming amounts of love. I feel like a dope comparing my dog to my friends’ kids but fortunately they’re kind enough to humor me :)


    • 2/26/13 9:08 Joelle:

      totally. I don’t plan to have kids, either and having Lulu is enough for me. And Ginger is such a cutie, it’s no wonder you feel that way!


  • 2/25/13 18:28 sizzle:

    I’m glad she’s better. Having a sick pet is the worst! I wish they could talk but instead we just try to guess what’s wrong.


  • 2/26/13 9:45 ChariD:

    So glad she’s better!! I’d completely lose it if the girls (Chihuahuas) got sick and had to stay overnight somewhere. Sleep by themselves in a crate??!! I’d go sleep on the floor in the vet’s office with them.
    ChariD´s last post: What to wear to the party


    • 2/26/13 10:13 Joelle:

      I know, I was NOT thrilled about her staying overnight by herself. But there were other bunnies around and she had her own big area to stay in (not a crate, thank goodness). They don’t have 24-hr staff, but they assured me it was good to let her just be for a while, without all the hub-bub of a busy vet’s office. Apparently, it did the trick because she’s a real poopster now. :)


  • 2/26/13 12:04 Manic Witch:

    My definition of “Helicoptor Mom” is one who won’t let their kids do anything themselves for fear of them failing and “ruining’ their self esteem. Being with a very sick loved one-just home from the hospital is not “helicoptoring”, it is making sure she is ok and is going to continue to be ok. It is feeling like your heart is going to stop and your world is going to crash down around you if you step away for just a moment and something happens. It is called “love.”
    Manic Witch´s last post: Now I remember why I liked to blog…


  • 3/13/13 19:15 Fiona:

    Firstly, I’m so glad that Lulu is fine – and is it REALLY five years already??

    Secondly, you so nailed this!! Exactly perfectly wonderfully described. I had my Lupo in for a CT scan at the appointed time of 1130am and they said oh just come back at 530pm. Excuse me, I have to LEAVE him? OK how else are they going to do the scan, it was under full anaesthetic.

    The nurse then said look I have your number, I’ll call you when he starts to look like he’s almost ready to come home with you. Errrrm lady I don’t think so. I wanted to be as close as I could (just in case, so he could ‘feel’ me there, so I knew the clinic didn’t burn down). I sat on a hard bench until they were done with him and he was ready by which time it was almost 630pm. Luckily I had my iPad, my kindle and some crackers and water. I read almost an entire book that day but don’t ask me what it was about.

    The joy on that dog’s face when he saw me, was priceless. It is what it’s all about.

    They are not animals, they’re not even pets…..they are our lives :)
    Fiona´s last post: Love and Lupo


  • 4/9/13 20:18 Honnatows:

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