Hovering Between Helicopter and Hot Mess: When You Don’t Fit a Mom Type


Recently I was in a large group of moms during a Q and A session when one of the audience members asked the hosts, “What do you do about helicopter moms?” I sunk into my seat a little bit. I was in a group of women that were self-confessed hot messes. Who are proud to wear the badges of the messier side of parenting, a group that I felt I belonged in but all of a sudden I felt singled out. I know I have helicopter mom tendencies. I was afraid of what the response would be. 

Their answer is the one I hope I would have given as well, “Lean on them.” Their point being when you don’t have your stuff together but they do, take advantage! 

I have never fallen into one group so I am not sure why I thought motherhood would be different. In high school, my mother always described me as a social butterfly. I played sports but was a part of the drama club. I went to youth group during the week but tagged along to parties after a Friday football game. I always had close friends in each circle that I connected to and navigated the sometimes turbulent waters of my teenage years. 

When I first entered motherhood I became overwhelmed with all of the different types and styles of parenting. There was attachment parenting, authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, helicoptering, and the list goes on and on. I was struggling to find a place I fit in because I thought I related to so many moms on different levels. There were tight cliques in established mom circles at the playground or the story time. I would line up in some areas but as soon as I showed my cards that I wasn’t “all in” with a certain type of parenting I felt a shift in the relationship. 

Am I Pinterest Mom? Not quite! Do I make meals from recipes I find there and do crafts on rainy days from my toddler board? You bet!

Do I hover over my son as he learns to climb the rock wall at the playground? You can count on it! But I also find myself taking a few steps back as he reaches out for me to help him down from a climb when I’ve seen him make his way to the ground before without any assistance. 

Do I let my son get dirty, play in puddles, and help him collect bugs? Of course! But anytime there is a spill in the kitchen you can also bet he’s going “uh oh mess!” and retrieving a dish towel or asking for a paper towel. 

My son has never cried himself to sleep but that doesn’t mean I don’t support other mothers decision that sleep training works for their family. 

Making mom friends when your parenting styles and approaches line up is easy and beneficial. But I think there is something to be said about making friends with moms who approach motherhood differently than you. Recently I was at the zoo with a mom friend and as soon as my son saw a puddle he beelined for it. We were wrapping our visit up and it was fairly warm out so I didn’t steer him away. If anything I encouraged it. My mom friend told her son no, and with his brand new white shoes, I am sure I would have made the same choice. There was no animosity between us about how we handled the situation differently. We accepted that we parent differently and it opened up a conversation about how we were good for each other. She helps me with my first-time mom anxiety, reassuring me countless times that he is fine and he is safe. I don’t know how many instances I’ve texted her or my twin sister, with a picture of a bump, red mark, etc. and they reply, “He’s FINNNNE.” If I texted someone who worried about every mark and bruise as much as I did I would be in the pediatrician’s office just about every day I am sure. These moms balance me out and I am grateful for them.

When I first joined the motherhood club I desperately wanted to fit into a group. To find my tribe. Luckily for me I have, they are sprinkled all over in these different mom groups and their things in common with other moms might be greater but I have found just enough moms who I love and that love and support me in my decisions even if they differ from the ones they would make.

I entered into motherhood and wanted to find a type of parenting and adhere to it strictly but then I figured out that’s just not my style