Any working parent knows that childcare can be a scramble — a job-threatening, tears-inducing, wallet-emptying scramble. But rarely is the search childcare life-threatening, or even dangerous, for the kid.
Not so for Col. Latifa Nabizada’s daughter, Malalai. The 5-year-old frequently rides along with her mom, a helicopter pilot who is sent on sometimes dangerous missions for Afghanistan’s Air Force. Nabizada is the only female pilot in Afghan aviation history and it’s a job she fought hard to train for, to get and to keep.
But the air force doesn’t have a childcare facility — or anyone willing to watch the little girl, apparently — so for the past few year, Nabizada has brought the girl on more than 300 missions, sometimes to dangerous areas of the country, for supply drops. Nabizada knows she’s putting her girl at risk and looks forward to next year, when the soon-to-be 6-year-old can start school.
“Trust me, when I have my daughter with me on the flight, I am really worried from the moment we take off to the moment we land,” says Nabizada. “For me, it’s my profession to go to dangerous areas. So if anything happens to me, it is expected. But why should something happen to my daughter? I am really worried.”
… Anyhow, I am confident of my abilities to control the helicopter while my daughter sits next to me.”
U.S. military officials have asked Nabizada not to bring the girl with her, or at least to not let her ride in the cockpit. But Malalai strenuously objected and so they let it go.
While I realize there are risks doing ride-alongs with Mom, I think Malalai is living out a lot of children’s dreams, not only to hang out with the mom’s at work all day but to do it flying around in a helicopter. Nabizada is a colonel and obviously a skilled pilot. I love that she’s doing what needs to be done in order to have a career and be a mom. And if U.S. military or the Afghan air force isn’t going to help her, then she’s just going to help herself — and her daughter.
It shouldn’t have to be that hard — but in countries that don’t support their working mothers (ahem, UnitedStatesofAmerica) — it is.
Thanks to April at The Stir for pointing me to this story.