Helicoptering in a Drone Society

Ha! See what I did there?

Drones are defined as unmanned aerial vehicles. As I thought about a title for an article on parenting, the correlation of helicopters and drones came to mind. Ironic, to me, that many parents today are not truly manning their parental aircraft and are likely the ones to label more involved parents as ‘helicopter parents.’

Another definition of a drone is “a male bee in a colony of social bees, which does no work but can fertilize a queen.”

If you read this blog, you might appreciate dry wit as much as I do. I think there is something ironic in that definition of a drone. This has nothing to do with my topic today; it’s merely a random giggle [albeit absentee fathers are no laughing matter].

The play on words in my title has more to do with a topic near and not-so-dear to my heart. Only child parents are often labeled as helicopter parents, especially with a close mother/daughter relationship. I am grateful my daughter and I do have a close relationship. At times we chum around and are very much friends– laughing about inside jokes and finishing each others sentences. As she approached her 16th birthday, I knew I needed to cut the apron strings and find some new girlfriends to hang out with. Eventually she would be leaving for college and I wanted to appreciate our empty nest years.  Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 9.42.15 PMAs you might know from my writings, rekindling our marriage needs to be a priority considering we almost skidded off the playing board in the Game of Life.

People do say some insensitive things to parents of only children. Heck, we all say insensitive things to each other without realizing the sting in our word choices. Forgive me if I’ve ever asked, “Is this one of your kids?” as the child wrapped its legs around your ankle. Duh? That WAS a dumb question. Likewise, saying to a parent of one child, “It must be so much easier with just one…” is an understandable pondering and in your exhaustion, you may have unknowingly audibly vocalized your question. Many of us struggled to carry just one child and may have endured the loss of one or more pregnancies. We would love to try juggling more than one, given the opportunity. Perhaps we have a spouse who wasn’t open to adoption. Asking a parent of an only if you’ve considered adopting might open a wound they are trying to heal.

We do say the darndest things to one another, don’t we?

I have the benefit of being the youngest of my family. I’ve had six older sisters raising their own children. I’ve had years to contemplate how I’d go about parenting my own child. Thanks, Sis, for paving the way. Sharing life side-by-side with parents in the workplace, I’ve been observing this role for years. Nothing can truly prepare you to hop in the cockpit yourself. Thank goodness we all know this job is tough, but rewarding. No one will ever execute the role perfectly because none of us is perfect.

I’m often transparent in my writing as I talk about my own life. It is quite another thing to talk about parenting in the midst of it. I often wonder how children feel about their author parents writing about their escapades and parenting styles. I respect my daughter for who she has become and avoid writing about her life without her permission. As we walk across the bridge from 16 years old to adulthood, I’ve made mistakes.

In our world of social media, we often over-share. We teeter between proud parent moments and living vicariously through our offspring. I’ve had to discipline myself in this regard and I’m still learning as we go. As she closes in on age 18, I find myself posting less and rationalizing that it is her news to share if she chooses to do so. She is also an introvert and favors the side of humble more often than tooting her own horn. Our moments together have become more private than in years before. Perhaps I’ve grown up too.

Ironic, isn’t it? We pour so much into our children to instill confidence then we reach a critical point when need to impart the trait of humility. It is a careful balance and so easily misguided by the hormones they are trying to manage at the same time their parents are doing the same.

Once again, my writing doesn’t draw a final conclusion. It is merely another Random Musing from this Introverted Visually Learning Parent.

Today was a tough day.
Tough love.
Tough lessons.

I said words I needed to say and heard words that I never thought would come from my daughters lips. I don’t blame her– her heart is hurting and her mind is whirling with college and career options. Truth is, I forgave her years ago for the words I suspected might come at the dawn of adulthood. I remember the emotions as my mum and I cut the ties that bound us together. My momma had different relationships with each of us but I can imagine letting the last one go, her baby, had to be hard. I’ve thought of her often during this season. How much it had to hurt watching me make mistakes and how very obvious it should have been those choices were going to lead to heartache.

But she let me make the choices for myself.
Sometimes she said, “I told you so”, but often did not.

Whether folks want to believe it or not, I am letting my daughter make her own choices. The secret many people don’t know is that she is a strong-willed child. It isn’t evident by her demeanor– she is fairly cool and docile. Every child needs guidance. Every child. Every child needs to feel safe, secure, and loved. Every child. Strong-willed children need to talk things out but come to their own conclusions. This is a crazy-thin fine line to walk during high school years. Add the element of relationships and dating–  the windows of opportunity for criticism fly wide open!

Parenting is an art form. Our decisions are formed by experiences and emotions unique to each of us. If I had more than one child, I can assure you the parenting manual would edited on a daily basis with each child. That being said, lets try to support each other through these years. No, not to commiserate; parents need tough love too. Don’t beat yourself up but don’t slack off either. The years do go quickly, especially the last four.

By the way, if there is a limit on the amount of graduation tickets at your school, PLEASE do not assume the kid who is an only child won’t use his or her tickets to enable your larger immediate family to attend. Family dynamics are unique and sensitive. Enough said.


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