Super Mom ruled the '80s. She was to motherhood what the Virginia Slims chick was to cigarettes. She could do it all, be it all and have it all, all at the same time. She retired at the end of the decade, weary, exhausted, suffering from water retention and plantar fasciitis from spiked heels.
Soccer Mom ruled the '90s. She lived in the 'burbs, drove the kids to games in a minivan, had a lawn chair permanently stashed in the cargo hold, took snacks for the team, told her littlest one that the score didn't matter (everyone is a winner!) and voted for political candidates she thought looked sexy.
Soccer Mom was run out of town by Helicopter Mom. She has only two lives to live -- her life and the life of her child. Helicopter Mom means business; she flies an AH-64 Apache, constantly hovering. "Call me when you get there! Call me when you leave! Do you need new underwear?" She keeps a close eye on academics, is in frequent touch with the teacher, the teacher's aide, the custodian, the cafeteria ladies, the principal, the school board and the superintendent.
Helicopter Mom morphs into Lawnmower Mom when her children leave home. She is a Dixie Chopper, cutting a wide swath with zero turn, mowing down every obstacle in her, theoretically independent, child's way. Lawnmower Mom even intervenes in her grown child's professional world regarding salary negotiations and promotions.
Free-range Mom is about children developing self-reliance. Free-range moms let their kids ride bikes (with safety helmets), walk to the mailbox and camp in the backyard. The mantra of free-range moms is that children are like chickens and deserve a life outside the cage. Free-range Mom is refreshingly free from the paranoia gene so prevalent in other quarters.
Best-Friend Mom professes to love rap, is the life of the party at her daughter's slumber parties and lets her daughters' boyfriends spend the night because it's "better than some sleazy hotel." Best-Friend Mom is in her 40s and still shops in the junior department.
Breastfeeding-Until-They're-4 Mom preaches the glories of lactation, converting as many as she can to the practice of breastfeeding, including men. Mama Grizzly hails straight from the pages of "Little House on the Prairie" -- self-sufficient, a good shot, and not the least bit hesitant to butcher her own meat.
And now comes Tiger Mom, a breed of mothering that has been given voice by Amy Chua, Yale law professor and married mother of two, in her memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Chua disdains the soft, indulgent Western approach to parenting (she has a point) and idealizes the strict Asian way (she's very scary). Chua screams, threatens, ridicules and bullies to get what she wants, for the sake of the children, of course. Only As are acceptable (an A- would be belittled) and the only approved activities are violin and piano.
There is yet another group of mothers, but they lack voice, branding and a catchy label. They are quiet and without a network because they are busy being moms. They are the ones who believe motherhood is still best ordered by the bonds of marriage, common sense, age-appropriate boundaries, reasonable expectations, laughter and love.