Saturday, December 12, 2009

When you're not buoyed, and when you are

Thing is, that derision is not only about Park Slope, and it's not only about strollers, which have somehow become synecdoche for the perceived ills of indulgent parenting everywhere. And it's not only about "parenting," either. No, I am telling you, it's about mothers. (White mothers, generally, and usually urban ones -- if in part because they're out and about on sidewalks and subways, not cloistered in carpools and playrooms.) You know them, or at least their epithets: "Stroller moms," the "stroller mafia," the particularly objectionable "stroller Nazis" -- and while we're at it, the "helicopter moms" and "sanctimommies." Along with the area blogs, the New York Times got in on the Maclaren fun with a silly shark-bait story on the allegedly "palpable sense of anxiety" the recall had wrought on the "hyper-conscientious" Slope. Standard online comment: "If the typical 'Slope Mummy' was not so hell-bent to get to her pilates classes, yoga classes, or whole foods market to pick up her 'fair trade, organic food items,' perhaps she would not be so careless as to fold 'Johnny's finger tips' into the hinge mechanism and amputate them." (Lynn Harris, “Everybody Hates Mommy,” Salon, 22 November 2009)


As a man who was once interested in marriage with children, I came to realize that this was no longer a reasonable aspiration for men who are perceived as average or less. More and more, having a child has become an economic and/or cultural statement by women who feel they are special enough to procreate. They pass this bias on to their children who then make it increasingly difficult (hell in fact) for the declining number of children from normal backgrounds, to be accepted. (RealConservative, Response to post, “Everybody Hates Mommy”)


Remember though, the most recent talk concerning parenting is about over-parenting, about a need to give kids range, freedom, again. It's more than the "newest": it has at least some feel of a genuine awareness that the last 30 years of child-rearing was done in a trance-like cultic state, no one could break out, and where no other option existed, that did no one any good. Guys like you who rightly concluded the time wasn't yours, may find pockets opening up that allow for your original dreams to be more readily realized.


Mom's have succeeded--they are fecund, relevant to the future. The rest of you neuters ought to stand to the side, offer what you may, and then fade away, so your viral ways don't afflict the children.

@Patrick McEvoy-Halston

Maybe "Mom's" [sic] have "succeeded," but you still haven't succeeded in figuring out where an apostrophe belongs.

I knew someone would come up with some Social Darwinian jeering. It never, ever fails.

That, you know, is a sign of real happiness with one's lot in life.

(Freudian slip -- I actually wrote Darwinish! I corrected it, but had to mention it.)

The only people "relevant to the future" are those who succeed in leaving something immortal behind them. I refer you to Plato's Symposium for further details. (Gigi_Knows!, Response to post, “Everybody Hates Mommy”)


There are times when a culture tends to buoy certain groups, and depress others, to an exaggerated degree. My feeling is that for some time now, those who have strayed from paths society deems relevant, potent, have been made to feel worthless-- a feeling they can try and take advantage of, or ameliorate, by being masochistic, herald their gains in ways which speak more of what they've been denied. I think that currently certain groups of parents now feel that sense of inflation, are often "on" the opiates it constantly encourages, and am therefore not at all convinced that what they are up to is best described as "hard." Hard, in my judgment, is finding yourself living without the charge, without the means to readily reproduce that exultant but crazed look, everyone who is successful is expected now to share. Your experience of life becomes one of waiting, serving, and the last thing you should be told is of your need to serve yet some more. Rather, you need to know that this too shall pass--wait it out--and in the meantime, time to offer moms some honest feedback, so they perhaps can snap out of it.


Re: "I knew someone would come up with some Social Darwinian jeering. It never, ever fails."

Just so we're on the same page, my first comment was intended to help point out how social darwinist our era feels--how the childless have been made to feel, how awful it is. (Maybe my previous comment to you pointed that out.)

I saw the error just as soon as I posted. These things happen, not just out of ignorance or sloppiness. You know this--this is a conversation, not a publication: it's about being as literate as possible, while you partake in the energy and the flow. Not so much spellcheck; and it may be the way the literate not just make unnecessary errors, but possibly allow room for their language, grammar, to evolve, grow. Not this time--sure: But free-range, not contrivance.

Patrick, dear

I'm sorry. I didn't know. I thought you meant it. (That even happened to Glenn Greenwald recently, if you can believe it.)

I don't have kids. I don't think it's awful.

There was a time when people who tried to make me feel awful could. That was a long time ago, so long it's hard to remember.

(My recommendation: Watch some foreign films. In fact, try nothing but, at least for a while. Seriously.) (Gigi_Knows!, Response to post, "Everybody")

Link: "Everybody Hates Mommy" (Salon)

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