We Are All The Helicopter-Tiger-Hipster-Crunchy-Granola-Soccer Mom

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hipster momMy 2-year-old walks around barefoot. It’s not my choice, obviously, but the kid refuses to wear socks. And, in the warmer months, his shoes are usually flung somewhere on a patch of grass while he runs free in the yard, a park, the sidewalk.

“I’m calling Children’s Aid on you,” my new neighbor joked last summer when she spotted him crossing the street barefoot (I, of course, was running after him with his shoes).

Here’s the thing: it’s pretty gross to be barefoot on the sidewalk – and clearly I don’t want him stepping on glass – but in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t care. What can I say? He’s a free spirit. And if he refuses to wear shoes, big whoop. (Ditto eating sand from the sandbox, another pastime.)

So here I am, totally crunchy-granola mom when it comes to bare feet in the playground, and yet I couldn’t be more of a helicopter mom when it comes to ensuring he doesn’t kill himself on the swings. I know that I should let him swing as high as he likes and if he falls, well, he’ll learn. But I can’t. I’m too busy being mama bear about the whole thing, and I annoy even myself.

The irony of me hovering over my barefoot, sand-eating kid is not lost on me. It’s quite a juxtaposition, but that pretty much sums up my parenting style. (I’m a Gemini, after all.) And I believe this overly-neurotic-meets-laid-back style of parenting is way more common than we think. For that reason alone, I think it’s time we eliminated parenting “labels” altogether.

Take, for instance, hipster moms. I’d like to say that these are the urban types who sip fair-trade coffee during brunch at a groovy little cafe that only they know about. They’ll read the paper with their musician-husbands as the kids, clad in Bob Marley onesies, play with wooden blocks. But this would be a sweeping generalization, one I’m trying to eschew. Especially because one such mom I know just hired a tutor for her 4-year-old.

“He’s falling behind in reading comprehension,” she told me, deadpan. The kid is 4! But the Tiger mom in her just can’t let it go.

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  1. Laura

    February 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Spot on. Thank you. I am not a free range parent, a formula feeder, a Babywise or any other type of label. I’m just Natalie’s mother. End of story.

  2. Mel

    February 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I love this! We should all focus more on oursimilarities than our differences.

  3. Lisa

    February 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Great piece!

  4. Ellen

    February 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Nice one, Shawna.

  5. Meg

    February 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Interesting argument. I admit I am highly judgemental (even though I know it’s bad to judge) of most kinds of obsessive parents, whether they be helicopters, tigers, health freaks, attachment extremists, anyone who seems to live thru their kids, and so on. And of course I too have my own obsessions… I just happen to think they are the right obsessions :). Like, good manners, regular teeth cleaning, cleaning up after yourself, apologising when you’ve done the wrong thing, being able to cope with not having your every whim indulged, being able to play by yourself as well as with other kids, being allowed to experiment and take risks, having privacy, and being a non-fussy eater. It seems so obvious to me that these are the things that matter, but I know they stem from how my partner and I were raised, and I am quite sure all obsessive parents feel the same way about their particular set of priorities!

  6. Sam

    February 2, 2012 at 4:09 am

    But is Clare still a fat girl’s name?

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