August 12, 2015

Helicopter Mom?

Here is my article in my series LETTERS FROM THE HOMEFRONT in this month’s  Change Your Life, Change Your Attitude  Magazine


It’s not easy being a military mom. Let’s face it – it’s not easy being a mom to grownups period.

When we knew we were expecting we had a bookshelf full of guide books to pick from. We could see what to expect at every milestone along the way. As we learned to juggle the demands of toddlers and potty training we had support. Fast forward 15 to 18 years or so as those toddlers begin to leave the nest. Where is the guidance – especially when the destination may be military service instead of another classroom?

My book, Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom Stories of Courage, Comfort, Surviving Life on the Homefront, is
my attempt to fill this gap and create a service manual for military moms. But it’s not just for military moms. The process of letting go is rite of passage we all endure. Some of us embrace it pushing our chicks forward leaning in to thenew life ahead. But for many of us who embraced our momma identity, losing our fledglings to adulthood is a traumatic event. In my case I raised them to soar, but I will admit as they fluttered away

I had to stifle a shout,” Get back here that’s way too high!”

I have four children – each one an officer – each one in a different branch of the service. Nine deployments and two more on the horizon, that’s a lot of letting go.

How do I do it? It’s not easy. It’s intentional. I focus on the dreams, those childhood dreams whispered in the dark.

“Momma I want to be Top Gun, an astronaut, John Wayne, to see the world.” What mom does not want to help her child reach his or her dreams?

As time passed, each one pursued those dreams in his or her own fashion. The result? I now have a Marine fighter pilot, an Air Force rocket scientist, a Naval officer and an Army helo pilot in the First Cavalry who wears a John Wayne hat.

On those days when it all seems to be too much, too many days apart with children in very scary places, I close my eyes and remember those childhood dreams and how happy they are that their dreams have come true.

As your heartstrings are seemingly pulled apart, remember they are leaving to pursue their best selves – to become the best that they can be. They are making their dreams – and your dreams for them – a reality.

How can you hold them back? Do you really want them to live in your basement? So as hard as it can be we release them, much like pulling off a bandage one hair at a time it seems. Our dreams and hopes for them overwhelms the fear whether they are heading out to college or to a new job, but especially if they are heading out to the military and potentially into harms way.

Release them so they do not worry about you. This is huge. We don’t want to burden our children as they head out on new challenges. Send them off with a smile and the knowledge that you have full confidence in them and who they are. Hovering and being a helicopter mom sends the message that you really don’t think they are capable. Is that what you really want to do?

I am able to have much more peace of mind because I know my children are well trained and competent to meet the challenges they face. They don’t need me to intervene. They are adults and I have let go of them as a child I take care of.

It is a mental shift that results in a new respect and relationship paradigm. Do I revert sometimes? Of course. But life is smoother when I stop smother mothering my adult children.

This is the time of the year when the back to school ads appear. I must admit I miss the days of shopping for the very special backpack guaranteed to make the school year the best. I will watch on the first day of school as moms stand with little ones in brand new clothes waiting for the bus and think back to simpler days, when I could keep my babies close around me. But as they climbed on that big yellow bus, my heart whispered the same words then as I do now…be safe, love mom.

Letting go. It never gets easier, we just get more practice doing it.

helo moms photos
Helicopter Moms!

9 thoughts on “Helicopter Mom?”

  1. Thanks for a great blog! Loved your book! This one really hit home for me. I work really hard on not living in fear as my only two kids, both boys, are at USNA. One a Firstie and one a plebe. I know God has given me so much peace through this and He will be with me when they are both out serving. Thanks again for what you do!

  2. Enjoyed this excerpt from your book. I am a military mom…my son Sean is a 1st Lt. in the Marines stationed at Kbay, Hawaii. He has always wanted to be a marine since he was 10 years old and never talked about being anything else. I am extremely proud of him for working hard all these years and living his dream but at the same time I am very scared for him and pray daily for his and all our military men and women’s safety. This is HARD!

  3. As the mom of one Navy pilot, a current cadet, and one civilian student I think letting go of my non-military daughter has been way harder. She announced yesterday she was interested in working with Tibetan orphans in Thailand. Yikes!!! I suppose it’s our fault for showing them the world and teaching them they should make a difference in it. So for now I’m praying for safety and wisdom for all three of my children (and also that maybe Thailand is replaced with working with orphans in a little safer place).

  4. <~~~~ Helicopter MoM…but trying to learn not to be so much… You've given me tools, and I thank you for that. I'm sure my son does, as well, he just doesn't realize it! 🙂

  5. Thank you so much! I’m learning to let go and must admit, I am doing a poor job of it. The nights and long and fraught with worry. The days are a battle to stay focused on something other than them. My doctor said I have to let go, it’s making me ill! All that I could say, with tear filled eyes…”Can you please write me a prescription for that?”. You may very well be my prescription!

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