You can see me coming a mile way. I'm probably in my paisley kaftan, carrying my reusable coffee cup and unapologetically smelling of essential oils. I almost certainly have a child in a wrap and another walking beside me, barefoot. For I am one of those: I am a hippie mom. And, as a proud hippie mom, I feel it is important to come to you, as an ambassador of my people, to tell you things every hippie mom wants you to know.

Being a hippie mom can honestly mean different things to different people, and usually does. Some hippie moms breastfeed, some don't. Some cloth diaper, others don't. The good news is, being self-described hippies, we're all pretty chill about anyone taking up the sobriquet if they want, because who really needs, like, labels, man? Let's just all be groovy.

Even though there are different levels and varieties of crunchiness when it comes to granola moms, there are a few basic repeating themes, many of them just part and parcel to being a run-of-the-mill hippie. The environment; social justice; natural alternatives to, well, anything possible; creativity; and unrepentant individuality (while working to achieve a more equitable, peaceful world) are just part of who we are. Hippie mom's also value their child's emotional development. Of course, I'm pretty sure that's important to every loving mother, but we hippies tend to nurture that in a particular, unmistakably "hippie mom kind of way." None of these areas of our lives become insignificant once we become moms. In fact, often, they all become more important to us after we procreate.

But, like a shark, a grizzly bear, or the noble spider, a hippie mom is very often misunderstood. Please allow me to help dispel some of these nasty rumors and misconceptions:

I Don't Think I'm Better Than You


Hippie moms have this nasty reputation of being really smug. Speaking for myself (and I know I'm not unique here), I really, really don't think I am better than you. My choices being different from yours are not an indictment of your choices. Every mom is different, every kid is different, every situation is different, and every family is different. Are you getting by OK? Are your kids happy, healthy, growing, and learning? If the answer is "yes" to all of the above, there aren't any problems. It's all good. We're good.

I Talk About This Stuff Because It Interests Me

I don't go on about breastfeeding or co-sleeping or babywearing because I'm trying to convert you to my style. (Though that does give me an idea to do a version of She's All That starring two moms.) I'm really into this now. Sure, maybe it's a little dorky and maybe I let my enthusiasm get the better of me sometimes when I really just need to chill out, but, again, this is not an attempt to undermine your own parenting choices. I'm just excited about my new baby sling, is all.

Actually, I've Read Up On All This


I'm not rushing off with my calendula diaper ointment and talk of baby led weaning half-cocked. Again, just because what I'm doing is perhaps more off-beat than most doesn't mean there isn't a whole lot of information out there and protocols that keep my family as safe and healthy as possible.

I'm Not "Being Different To Be Different"

Because for goodness sake, wouldn't that be ridiculous? I mean, really. What a damn chore. No parent can afford to be so arbitrary. Honestly, we're tired enough as it is so we're not in the business of making extra work for ourselves for no reason other than being contrary.

I'm Not Doing This To Fit In With The "Cool Kids"


For the same reasons as above. Also, seriously: this isn't 7th grade.

I'm Not "Trying To Be My Child's Best Friend"

I hear this a lot and I must confess that I'm sort of perplexed by it. Because, seriously, what child is going to be convinced you're cool because you use reusable diapers or feed them locally farmed kale? Oh yeah, mom's such a badass.

I'm guessing a lot of this comes down to our tone. A lot of self-described hippie parents tend to take a "gentle parenting" approach in raising their children, which emphasizes empathy and respect. Some people, used to more authoritarian interactions between parents and children, might mistake this as pandering to their kids. It's not.

I'm Not Spoiling My Child


Babywearing doesn't spoil them.

Breastfeeding doesn't spoil them.

Praise doesn't spoil them.

Not insisting they eat every scrap of food I put on their plate whether or not they're hungry isn't spoiling them.

Take a deep breath and relax, because everything is OK. Besides, even if I were spoiling them with all this, isn't that more a problem for me than you? Chill.

I'm Happy To Share Ideas With You

And I don't just mean me telling you how awesome probiotics are. I mean let's talk together about parenting and what works for our families: maybe we'll get some ideas from one another. Maybe what works for me won't work for you, or vice-versa, or we're just not interested in walking a mile in one another's shoes. Either way, we can talk about these things, disagree, and still be cool. At the very least we'll help each other see another point-of-view.

Just Because My Style Of Discipline Doesn't Look Like Yours Doesn't Mean I Don't Discipline


I think this also goes back to the gentle parenting approach and how it looks to the uninitiated. We hippies are not (as I've been accused of) "too soft" on our kids. Nope, we're just hippies.

My Parenting Choices Aren't About You

I'm not doing this to annoy you, or make you feel bad about yourself, or rebel against you in some way. I'm doing this for my family. This is what works for us and, happily, it folds into our overarching ideas about life and the world and our general sense of "Kumbaya." I don't understand why you would take this personally, and I urge you not to.

I'm Just Doing My Best


Being a parent is, by its nature, a position of insecurity. Even really confident, put together parents with an unparalleled sense of self worry that they're doing it wrong or, worse yet, failing. No parent, hippie or otherwise, should be undermined or endlessly second-guessed. We all do enough of that to ourselves, thank you very much. A little encouragement, on the other hand, would go a long way.

But Really, Coconut Oil


Have you guys tried it? For literally anything? Because, for real, there's nothing coconut oil can't do. That's just science and everyone needs to know. #hippietruth