(Inside: Why my helicopter dad was the best dad ever. Why healthy helicopter parents are changing the world one parenting skill at a time.)
I raised my head in anticipation as the hum of the helicopter grew louder. Back and forth it rocked. I knew the pilot, my dad, was saying hello from the sky. It’s one of my best childhood memories.
Except it’s not totally true.
Recently, my dad and I reminisced about his days as an Air Force rescue pilot. I told him I have fond memories of moving from one military base to the next and especially of the faithful back-and-forth greetings.
Dad: “Oh, yes. That only happened when we lived in Korea. We couldn’t really see anyone on the ground. When we flew over the base, we sometimes rocked our helicopter to say a general hello.”
Me (Searching for words.):
Me (Still confused.):
Me: “Really? You didn’t rock your helicopter at any other military bases we lived?”
Dad: “No. Just Korea.”
What, the what? He couldn’t see me? (Of course, he couldn’t see me. But, I felt like he could see me.) And only in Korea? I was pre-school age. I’m not even sure if I have any real memories from there.
So I paused and thought.
Nope. I couldn’t come up with one memory that wasn’t assembled from other peoples’ stories. Well, crazy bowl of inaccurate recollections…
I had to laugh. Did I really think I was so important to my dad that he thought of me while piloting? That he would rock expensive Air Force equipment just for me? But actually, I kind of did. He never made me feel any different.
Mamas, we’re in the thick of it. Knee deep in peanut butter sandwiches, carpooling to kids’ activities, homework help, and daily repeating: brush your teeth, help with the dishes, pick up your clothes, time for dinner… (No, not 5 minutes from now…come now.)
Then in it all, we lose our cool because our kid licked the peanut butter off the knife and returned it to the jar. (Cue instant mommy guilt.) It’s easy to feel our every day isn’t impactful.
Yet, here’s what we’re really doing…
When we pack their lunches, we’re reminding them we consistently provide for them. When we take them to their activities, we are telling them we support their growth and interests. When we call them for dinner, we are giving them a place to daily unpack their thoughts and be heard. When we make them do school work, we’re relaying that their education and future are important to us. When we give them boundaries, we’re providing a sense of security. When we require their help with chores and family responsibilities, we’re cultivating a strong work ethic. When we work through family conflict, we are teaching them in a protected place to learn to deal with life’s inevitable waves.
Then, their solid home base gives them the confidence to eventually spread their wings and let them catch the wind.
They’ll use what they learn from us in the real world. It’ll be passed down to their kids, grandkids, great-grandkids… And passed horizontally to their friends, relationships, co-workers… Our impact keeps rolling. A mom’s ordinary love leaves an extraordinary legacy.
Stay the course, strong mamas. Your kids won’t remember the tough moments with the same type of I’m-a-failure-as-a-mother-because-(insert what gives you mommy guilt)-intensity you will. They’ll remember a mom who loved them and was there for them. They’ll remember a mom who always rocked her helicopter at them, even if in fact she did not.
Helicopter dad and mom – Continue to be encouraged by reading the full “Imperfectly Thrive in Parenting” series.
Parenting is one of my biggest joys. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. From a young age, I prayed to have a family, and sometimes I pinch myself that my dream came true.
However, because this phase of life means so much to me, I can put too much pressure on myself to make the most of every moment, handle every situation flawlessly, and be the best mom ever. The truth is: I won’t do it all well, and it’s not supposed to be that way.
One of God’s goals for me is to lean on him – to turn to him, to trust in him, to seek his guidance and favor in this motherhood experience. The dips and turns and mess in mom-life help me do that.
What a gift the imperfect can be. I do my best to try and articulate this idea in my imperfectly “thrive in motherhood” series. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.
Imperfectly Thrive in Parenting Series
Do You Need to Simplify Parenting? Collect Moments, Instead
Being a Parent is Hard for This One Reason: Here’s What Helps
Healthy Helicopter Parenting: A Story to Life You Up
Why Mom Mistakes Can Be Good
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.