If New York magazine is to be believed - and, what the hell, why not? - the institution of urban motherhood is going through a crisis of epic proportions. As gender roles and income rates shift, parenting for those who choose to stay in the city has become a minefield, emotionally, politically, and on that damn Urbanbaby.com site.
Which is why we here at Gawker are pleased to inaugurate a new weekly feature, "Diary of a Park Slope Mommy." Childrearing has always been an important part of city life, never more so than now, when reluctant adults both refuse - and can afford - to leave the pleasures of New York. To learn what's going on in the minds of these people, we've found a willing diarist from the trenches of motherhood. Perhaps more importantly, she's from the trenches of the most smug, self-righteous childrearing section of New York: Park Slope.
"Diary of a Park Slope Mommy" will chronicle the angst, despair, and corrosiveness to the soul that raising children and living in Park Slope engenders. Our diarist, a working professional with two children who prefers to remain anonymous, will guide you through a world more horrifying than even your worst nightmares. If you have kids yourself, you'll find it a terrifying mirror of your own experience. After the jump, Park Slope Mommy introduces herself, establishes her credentials, and lets you know what you can look forward to in the coming months.
When my roommates and I moved to Brooklyn post-college, almost 20 ago, we didn't know anything about neighborhoods - Park Slope or Carroll Gardens or Williamsburg; those names meant nothing to us. Brooklyn was just a nebulous blob of non-Mahattan-ness. A place you lived if you really, really, really couldn't afford the City.
Our first apartment was steps away from the irredeemably grubby Fourth Avenue, on the fringes of what I know now is Park Slope. Although the apartment was large and pretty nice, actually, the area - you couldn't call it a neighborhood - was seedy; genuinely, not in the quaint, romanticized way the Williamsburg pioneers will speak of their environs. For example, my gay roommate was routinely taunted through his first floor bedroom window by a neighborhood crack whore who had a summer residence on our block. A neighborhood crack whore; the block wasn't yet established enough for exclusive laborers.
When I eventually landed in Park Slope proper over a decade ago, it was a sort of dumpy middle class neighborhood with some appealing residential architecture, and only one decent restaurant.
I stayed and got married and had a baby and another baby. And somewhere in there, Park Slope became hot shit. I'm not sure which happened first: Al di La opened and got a rep as Manhattan-worthy; or word traveled across the river that if you were rich, you could live in an historic 3-story brownstone and send your children to public school instead of living in a 2-bedroom postwar shoebox and pay 100,000 per kid for private school. All I know is at some point soon after, you didn't have to give detailed directions to reluctant cab drivers coming from Manhattan any more, Jennifer Connelly and her family had moved in up the street, and there were a bunch of toy shops that looked just like the MoMA Design Store. And Marty Markowitz's wet dream had come true.
So here I am, the bitch in the brownstone, leaving my Maclaren at the bottom of the three flight walk-up. You know me: I'm the mom who lets her kids run untended through the Tea Lounge, while I sneer at your parenting; I'm the one at the Power Play birthday party who disapproves of the superhero-themed goody bags and the fruit-punch juice boxes; I'm the woman standing behind you in line at the Co-op, appalled at your choice of non-organic breakfast cereal. Face it: I've been judging you. These are your stories.