So I just read this post on Babble, “Can You Stay Friends With Someone Who Has A Wildly Different Parenting Style?” In it, the writer expresses exasperation with her old friend who is a “helicopter parent” because she is a “free range parent.” She wonders aloud, as all bloggers do, if she can remain friends with this woman. I wanted to laugh at the end because I immediately thought of my neighbor and very good friend Allison.
Fate Steps In
I didn’t know her growing up. We aren’t old friends as is the case in the aforementioned article. We have been living in the same neighborhood for the past eight years, but didn’t meet until our daughters’ Kindergarten Open House three years ago. Ironically, I had just pitched an article to Hudson Valley Parent and even though I was there wearing my “mommy hat” trying to learn all about the school and teacher I was also wearing my “writer hat” and was scoping out parents to interview for my article.
As soon as the presentation was over I made my way over to the teacher to ask questions about programs for engaging children that were advanced and I overheard this woman asking the question that was in my head. I knew then that I was going to interview her. I had no idea at the time that we lived in the same neighborhood or that our kids and of course we would become amazing friends.
Now That’s My Kind Of Crazy
I’m a firm believer that we are all crazy. We just find people that are “our brand of crazy” to hang out with. Al will be the first to admit that she’s a bit paranoid when it comes to her kids. She keeps them very close. I’m a bit more free range if you will. I take the stand that falling is a part of life so brush it off and get back on the bike. But it never for one second would occur to me that we couldn’t be friends because of it. I know we parent differently, but I recognize that we are different people and that’s cool. Her babies were born premature and I cannot imagine how hard it must be to see your tiny little baby hooked up to machines. Not being able to leave the hospital with them seems unimaginable to me.
Walk In Each Other’s Shoes
So I try to put myself in her shoes and think maybe I would hover more if I had that experience. I was raised free range, allowed to walk miles down the road to the corner store by myself at 10. If I can see my kids I don’t mind letting them play on their own with just a few “check-ins” now and again. I can also recall with horror a few times I should have hovered more. Like the few terrifying minutes I lost Jay at the Wayne County Fair because there was a large group of people with us and I wasn’t holding his hand.
Perfect Parents Need Not Apply
I’ve grown so disheartened by parents who think there is only one way to parent. I think parenthood is craziness in its own rite. But it’s a fluid kind of crazy. I’m allowed to be paranoid about certain things and more trusting about others. Just because it might seem that we fall into one parenting camp or another doesn’t make it true. I read the comments on articles about say cry it out sleep training and you will see the flags flying. I was perhaps the only one to comment that I both co-slept with my babies and later sleep trained them. Maybe it’s because Allison and I both have mixed children that we literally know the world is not black and white, but both.
Many Paths To The Same Goal
Our children are kind, loving, smart and well-adjusted kids because of their moms; different parenting styles and all. (Ok, because of their dads too. I will never hear the end of it I don’t add that our kids have some pretty amazing dads too). Best of all they love each other like siblings not just friends. It does mean they also fight like siblings at times too, but that’s what family does. How could I ever not be friends with her because we parent differently? We surpassed mere friendship a long way back.
I am not a perfect parent. She is not a perfect parent. But her shade of crazy matches mine perfectly and the only parent I really don’t trust is one who doesn’t see their shade of crazy at all. So stop waving your flags parents unless you’re willing to let your crazy flag fly. Only then will you find the friends that last a lifetime.
It just so happens to be Allison’s birthday today so Happy Birthday to my sister from another Mister! I volunteer to show the world my crazy, but you letting me show the world yours is just another reason I love you!