Parenting Haibun

Watercolour and ink illustration of a helicopter rescuing a heart. Used to illustrate a haibun on parenting.

We have a little ritual most evenings where at some point of cuddles on the couch while reading before bedtime, my son will call out for his dad’s ‘rescue helicopter’, giggling and asking:

‘can you rescue me daddy?’

From the other room, dad’s chopper blades can be heard to the growing squeals of my boy as he anticipates the helicopter ride once he’s free from mamma’s arms. They fly around the room and ‘land’ on impossible surfaces— the keys of the piano, the dining table, the top of the child proof fence separating the lounge room from the art studio. All fun, light and laughter no matter how many times we play out this rescue, but the symbolism of his request for a ‘rescue’ from my embrace doesn’t escape me.

The love I have for my son is overwhelming for me sometimes and I fear it may be stifling for him as he gets older. I want to hold him in an eternal embrace and cover his sweet face in endless kisses, but that would be all about me, ignoring the autonomous being wanting to untangle and have me join him in a game of cars or reading instead. This untempered display of affection is my attempt to counter my parents’ style of parenting. I have a greater  capacity to love than they seemingly had with their stark and cold approach—mine being an overcompensation to avoid  the remotest possibility of being like them. I don’t want to short change my baby of love, but a balance needs to be struck. Or does it? I suspect this question will require greater reflection as he gains independence and outgrows rescue helicopter rides, and rightly so, he is his own person and I need to remind myself of that and respect his boundaries, trusting he’ll know I love him without having to be tackled in a mamma bear hug whenever we’re in close proximity. Ah, the constant reflection, self doubt and winging it that is parenting.

wool mittens, warm hands

no pincer to pick spring blooms

she loves me, she loves…

It warms my heart that when set free from my clutches and doing his own thing, it is never too long before he comes to me and gives me a hug, and some of his last words before sleep each night are “I want a big cuddle and a big kiss  and a little kiss and a little cuddle”—perhaps I haven’t OD’d him (yet).

 

 

While this post was still in draft, the term ‘helicopter parent’ popped in my head for obvious reasons. Unsure of its meaning, I looked it up. It was absolutely not my intention to suggest I am a helicopter parent, and having read the definition, I don’t believe I am one. In the case of a toddler, helicopter parenting is when the parent is constantly immersed in play or directing of the child and doesn’t allow the child time on their own.  Interestingly, one trigger for helicopter parenting is the parent’s own experiences of feeling unloved or neglected as a child. Perhaps my myriad interests and shortness of time have helped me avoid the trappings of helicopter parenting—if my son didn’t have time playing on his own, this blog, my WIP, housework, meals and a whole lot of other things wouldn’t happen. 

 

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66 thoughts on “Parenting Haibun

      1. Tough one. I guess I try to give them as much free reign as possible while resisting the urge to smother through fear and love. And also trying not to pass on the worse of who I am. Parenting often reminds me of that Philip Larkin poem, ‘This Be The Verse’ — you don’t mean to, but you do. And I’m always conscious of that gulf between their limited, sunlit minds and the shadows of this world — dredging the day that gulf closes.

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      2. Sounds like you’re doing it right David. It is so hard to not want to spare them any heartache but that is the dtuff of life snd growth…all we can do is equip them with he skills to bounce back again and again. I hope that gulf never closes! How old are they?

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  1. I often worry the same things but I think it’s a nonissue at this age (your son’s). As they get older, its hard for me not to get involved if they have issues with other children, and that is where I really need to think. Otherwise, as long as you show you are their friend, I think you can have a great relationship. Loved the writing too!

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  2. It’s a fine line to walk between too much and not enough, but…I’ve seen many different parenting styles turn out great kids. In fact, my two are so different, the way I interacted with each was different (and still is). The love is there, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. (K)

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      1. It’s such a competitive place. And for some reason many people think of their children as extensions of themselves…their children must be “successful”l to validate their own “success”. I wouldn’t have the energy (or the finances for some of the things they do), and my children would have rebelled at me managing every aspect of their lives in any case. I have enough trouble making my own decisions.

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      2. I never thought of that aspect, but it does seem the wealthy are less inclined to let their children make their own mistakes. They are almost indoctrinating them into a cult. Heaven forbid they should question any of their parents’ choices!

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  3. First, I love this post Mek. We all do the best that we can, given our own backgrounds. I understand the challenges of not wanting to parent as your parents did, while still needing to parent the child you see before you. My household is very liberal because my upbringing was very controlled and also because D personally doesn’t want to control anyone, so it works out, more or less.

    I also find it fascinating that you (and some of your blogging friends) had never heard of helicopter parenting. It’s definitely a thing here in the States. It’s also been a problem as those same parents have followed their adult children to college; it’s changed how colleges do the first few days of school. Oftentimes, the institution has to tell parents they must leave and let their children experience college on their own lol funny, but sad (to me) at the same time.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! I like your’s and D’s approach…interesting, as Kerfe said, different approaches can result in kids that still turn out ok! I think love is key.

      I had always assumed it meant remote parenting, but nothing like writing about something to make you want to check assumptions. That’s hilarious that the colleges tell the parents to leave. How did you feel over the weekend with Kesi’s move for college?

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      1. I was torn between relief (it was time for her to fly) and worry (she doesn’t always use her wings). It’s definitely something we’re dealing with day by day as she’s had some hiccups and snafus and I’ve had to learn when to help and not. For example, she mistakenly selected that she liked animals on the apartment preference sheet, not realizing that meant she was okay with roommates who had animals. Thus, her two roommates have four cats! While this is something I would never tolerate, she’s okay with it and I had to be quiet about it (eventually) because it’s not my issue…I don’t live there, she does. That’s just one example. So my very long answer is we’re all learning to adjust lol

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  4. I would think at this age you can pour on the love and not worry so much. I did that quite a bit with my son when he was young, his dad travelled so much for work and it was just the two of us (he was much younger than his two sisters). As they get older, boys especially become much more independent. My son is now a junior in college, I can’t even tell you how the first two years of him being gone almost killed me, hardest thing I ever did was drive away leaving him at that dorm! Now, I look back, and I’m okay, ha ha!

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    1. Thanks Lana. Speaking of differences between boys and girls, at a ‘boys brains’ workshop I attended recently, I learnt that boys need more affection and tactile show of love than girls do to generate the same amount of feel good neurochemicals (seratonin? dopamine?). There are also differences in oxytocin levels between boys and girls. One of these days, I’ll read up more on it. Yes, that must have been hard seeing him go, especially being the last one out of the roost. I have primary school to deal with still! haha

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      1. They are definitely different little creatures. I had fun with both my girls and my son, but with him, it was so different. I’m glad I had both journeys. I miss all of them at times, but realize that we must celebrate all “seasons” of our lives. I saw the funniest FB video the other day of a mom taking her son to Kindergarten first day, and she kept talking about how he wasn’t ready, and she was gonna go back and get him, ha ha!

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  5. In no way did in attribute this post to being a helicopter parent. This was a great post about the conflict of wanting to encourage growing up and independence in your son and yet still, wanting him to stay young and snuggly, close to you. Great post!

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  6. That’s so adorable. Warm mittens are the cutest thing💖. Though I am not a parent I understand your thoughts. I am sure you are a good parent. Helicopter parents just don’t allow their kids to thing and do things on their own. Kind of dictating their lives.

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    1. Thanks Jade! I appreciate your reading and taking time to comment. Yes, mittens are adorable, but so impractical! I was trying to get across the idea of how they keep you warm but also stifle and stop you from doing much when you wear them.

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  7. This post is touching.
    I’m so glad your loving giving your son lots of affection! Yeah, you’re gonna have to let go bit by bit, but maybe not right now. Let your awareness guide you, and when all else fails, just think of how unattractive are those “Mama’s boys” after a certain age, think of those spoiled adult sons who whine and complain and can’t do shit for themselves….!

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    1. Thanks Leslie. I’ll keep in mind the unattractiveness of ‘mama’s boys’ 😂 I want him to be a balanced, well fuctioning child and adult haha. Will there ever be a woman good enough fot him though? Just kidding…

      Not sure I’ve asked you- have you got a child or children?

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      1. No, Mek….I don’t have children of my own. But I am the eldest of my siblings (which means I was a “junior parent” for many years but I won’t go into that now….) and I have a wonderful niece and wonderful nephews. Being an Aunt suits me.
        😂”will there ever be a woman good enough for him?”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, so when will you go into that? A post perhaps? Seems to be the case for a number of people I know who’ve had that parenting role early on in life with many younger siblings. Lucky niece and nephew to have you as an aunt 🙂

        Glad that gave you a laugh haha.

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  8. “The love I have for my son is overwhelming for me sometimes and I fear it may be stifling for him as he gets older. I want to hold him in an eternal embrace and cover his sweet face in endless kisses, but that would be all about me, ignoring the autonomous being wanting to untangle and have me join him in a game of cars or reading instead. This untempered display of affection is my attempt to counter my parents’ style of parenting.” – I wonder if this display of affection isn’t just for your son alone, but also an attempt to love your ‘small’ self? Perhaps ‘loving’ your son as you so beautifully describe gives you the opportunity to share in that love you would have liked to receive at that age and beyond. Forgive me for playing psychologist here, but in some ways this is how I felt when my daughter was small. I loved her so fiercely as if I needed to prove that I could be a better parent than my own.

    From the sound of it, you are doing an amazing job as a ‘mamma’. Better too much love than too little or none at all, I say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marie. Yes, the love I have for him extends to loving myself too…love is like that…you can’t give what you haven’t got. Fortunately, I did the work of parenting the little me before having a child, but there is definately healing in giving and receiving that love. Yes, I am totally aware that I am conciously trying to be a better parent than my parents but I’m probably making other mistakes along the way but I think the key is to parent consciously. How did your fierce love of yiur daughter influence the relationship you now have- are you close? How has it been letting go of your baby and allowing her to be her own woman?

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      1. Yes, we are close Mek, but as you know (because we were once children ourselves), there comes a time when babies become adults and the whole dynamic changes for them, and not so much for you. Your baby won’t always be a baby, but you will always be a mother. So I guess I find it hard that she doesn’t need me the way she did when she was a child, but I find it hard letting go. But I know I have to and so of course I have to adjust to that – it’s not easy, but it has to be done. Your son is very young now, so there are a few more years of feeling wanted/needed by him for you but as he becomes more independent, I think there will be a part of you that struggles with this, but like most parents you will realise and accept that this is how it is. Personally, I find that boys are always close to their mothers even when they do become independent. I think that there is just this special bond between mothers and their sons and especially if the relationship in childhood has been a good one.
        No parent is perfect, but I’m pretty sure that you are as near as dammit! :))

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