ok, so i took the bait
let's take a look at her pointlessly nasty and grossly inaccurate blog. as mrs nice guy describes it, "it's crap writing and mostly crap thinking. but with just enough 'holy shit, i've had that thought too' moments to keep me reading through to the end. (and then hate myself for it.)" because i am good to you, i am including my less-funny-than-i-wanted-them-to-be marginalia in italics:
Here in my neighborhood, Park Slope, I am constantly encountering insane stay at home moms (SAHMs). And I have come to the all too un-PC conclusion that stay-at-home motherhood, despite the way our culture lionizes it, is bad for the child and bad for the mom. And bad for society. It's just plain bad.
hmm, yes. our culture lionizes stay-at-home moms. simply adores them. gives them health insurance and writes songs about them. and the moms i met in the nine months i was a stay-at-home dad? totally insane. we're talking feces-throwing multiple personality-having batshit bananas. clearly this is the beginning of a well-reasoned and researched, articulate treatise on parenthood.
Most of the SAHMs I know are really miserable. The working moms I know hate their jobs and hate working but they're not miserable in the kind of extreme and neurotic, soul crippling, Zoloft inducing Yellow Wallpaper-type way the SAHMs are.
let's stop here a moment and marvel. the moms i know--and boy do i know me some moms--tend not to have crushed souls or zoloft-stocked medicine cabinets. they, in fact, tend to be smart, rational, funny people who are candid about the trade-offs of stay-at-home parenting. oh, also, they actually like parenting. talk about crazy!
When you spend all day with a baby you go a little crazy and I don't think the SAHMs realize how crazy they are. All these college-educated smart women who once had opinions about things and read the newspaper now can only talk about poop and pancakes with kale and Veggie Bootie and natural Cheerios versus regular ones.
first of all, what's wrong with talking about poop? poop is funny. second of all, kale pancakes? ca-ca-crazy! i'm starting to rethink my affinity for some of these moms and start to hating on them too!
My husband and I go to this playground called the Tot Lot near our house and we nicknamed it "Compare and Despair" because all any of the mothers talk about is, "Is she crawling? Is she walking? Oh my goodness, she has so much hair/so many teeth. She's so tall/long/verbal/expressive."
oh dear "compare and despair" is a mite clever isn't it? but amy, do you want to know why parents talk about kids with other parents? because, just maybe, in the tot lot (and this is just a theory) new parenthood is the one thing these people, who are otherwise strangers unto each other, immediately HAVE IN COMMON. sure, some of them are pushier than others and some of them smoke in the tot lot and some of them are passive aggressive and others are nervous nellies. but hey, the tot lot is a free country and it's fun to see the different types of parenting on display. lighten up. it's like a little-people zoo!
It starts with "How old?" and then from "How old?" they get into what their kid is doing versus what your kid is doing versus what all kids should be doing and after half an hour of this you're ready to stay inside for the rest of the summer. They sit around all day watching other babies play and worrying about their own baby's development. This is a lot like watching paint dry.
yes, this is true. every conversation i have WITH A STRANGER in the tot lot tends to start with "how old" because this is a surefire way to start a conversation WITH A STRANGER. it's a golden ice breaker. it's like "what's your major" and "so, what do you do" and "is it hot in here or is that just you" all rolled into one. from "how old" it's natural to talk about the tots for a little while before branching into other more cheerful topics like global warming and the impending third world war. but maybe some people prefer just keeping it to the kids when they're talking WITH A STRANGER.
One day I went to the tot lot with my daughter. I took her out and had plopped her by a play structure when behind me I heard two women talking. "Some babies never crawl," I heard the one say to the other reassuringly. I picked up my kid and we left. That was it. I just couldn't take it. I couldn't stand to be near it even though neither of these women was talking to me.
ah, yes. so instead of letting your kid play peacefully in a playground designed just for her, you took her back to your apartment (or some cafe? or ye olde pink pussycatte dominatrixe supply shoppe?) because you bristled at overheard conversation between two people you didn't know ... conversation i might add that sounded more "reassuring" (to use your words) than menacing; conversation about the shared travails of parenting because maybe some people like to talk about what's on their minds, especially when they don't have a regularly published column in which to air their thoughts.
By virtue of what these mothers do all day, they become obsessed with baby care. They don't "have time" to read the paper or read a book. They don't "have time" to go out and see a movie alone or see friends or go to a museum or have an original thought. So instead they talk about what obsesses them: baby shit, the Britax Boulevard versus the Graco Snugride, the Techno XT versus the Volo, the flushable diapers versus cloth.
if this is in fact true--if all the moms you know only talk about stroller brands and poop (which, i remind you, is funny)--then it's your fault for hanging out with boring people. but i suspect that you are exaggerating in order to work yourself into a froth of faux indignity in order to have some weak peg upon which to hang your smug disdain.
But the worst part of all of this is that the babies/children pick up on all of this neurotic energy and grow up to be really disturbed individuals, totally incapable of making decisions on their own. They don't play with other kids; they just play with Mom. They don't learn how to solve problems on their own or fall on their ass or all the things they're supposed to learn because Mom is constantly shielding them from danger. Of course this is all a big generalization but in general, this is what I observe.
"of course this is all a big generalization" but you don't care about trivial things like accuracy because you smell a big fat you-go-grrl snarky book deal.
As a result of all this danger shielding, Mom is exhausted and depleted and brain-dead, can't talk about anything but baby stuff with her husband, resents her husband for working even though he's got to do it to support her choice to be an SAHM, and then feels guilty if she considers going back to work because somebody drilled it into her brain-dead skull that working mothers are evil. I don't know who the somebody is. I really don't. These are not Republican women I am describing here. These are Park Slope women.
yes, when i wasn't taking orders from the What To Expect Posse -- when i wasn't busy taking notes on the latest stroller technology and comparing my child's physical development to that of other babies -- i was busy thinking about how evil working moms are. especially my wife. boy did i ever resent her for allowing me nearly a year at home with my child. and the moms who were working because they couldn't afford to be a stay at home mom? they were worse than brain dead, they were poor!
I suspect it is the husbands who discourage them from working. Because it's the social equivalent of taking Viagra. "What does your wife do for a living?" asks Jeff, the squash partner at the Racquet Club. "Oh, she's at home with our son," says Michael, and then boasts.
dude. the next time i talk to my squash partner Jeff at the Racquet Club i am totally going to try this line because it's like Viagra ... and ... i really want ... to fuck him.
In our family, we have a Tibetan nanny 2 full days a week and Jake and I split the rest. Our kid is adaptable because she's around lots of different people. There is nothing that only I can do for her. When she's sick and upset we hire our sitter for an extra night and by the time she leaves our kid is better. That's how good she is. We pay up the wazoo for the child care, especially since it's only part time. We love our sitter so much we just bought her cable. But I believe this is a far better option than having one of us (Jake or me) commit to being a full-time stay-at-home parent. Our brains would explode. We would resent the other one no matter what. Our kid would be seriously screwed up and we would go into a financial sinkhole.
so you and your husband -- both writers, right? who write at home? -- have a nanny two days a week and the rest of the time you are ... say it with me, now ... evil stay at home parents? you are just walking the walk, aren't you? and you love your Tibetan sitter so much you just bought her cable! that's so sweet and not at all patronizing. how about social security? also:
But give me a week to live the way they do (which I've done from time to time) and by the end I am thanking my lucky stars that I work. You can only eat at Moutarde so many times, propping an infant on your knee and eating with one hand before you think, I'd rather be on the roof of Soho House alone getting a tan. Speaking of which, how about this idea: Brooklyn House? I'm thinking of taking over the Montauk Club and turning it into a private club for Brooklyn Bohos. Indie rock concerts, a sun deck, and ON-SITE CHILD CARE staffed solely by Tibetans.
a whole week you've done from time to time? wow, that's tuff! but mostly, i love this idea!
workinggetting a tan is so much more fulfilling than parenting. and tibetans are so great they should all have cable. let's fob our kids off on tibetans. forget those west indian nannies! too talk-backy! as for brooklyn house? this is the only well-thought out part of this diatribe. us park slopers are not privileged enough, dammit!
That is the end of my rant. I would turn this into a million-dollar book proposal if I could but I don't think there's enough to sustain 500 pages. Still, I wouldn't mind going head to head on Fox with that twiglike evil shiksa Ann Coulter. Keep your eye out for something by me in an upcoming issue of New York on a topic related to parenting. I'll post the link when it's up.
i am sure you will, amy sohn. i am sure you will.