I used to be one of those snobby Manhattanites who make fun of people who have kids and then immediately migrate to the neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn.
And then Husband and I signed a lease a few weeks ago. For an apartment. In Park Slope.
We did not intend to move there, it just happens to be where we found a really great apartment in our price range (with a terrace!). At least, that's what we're telling ourselves.
Park Slope is family-friendly to a near militant degree. It's more than family-friendly. It's almost family-mandatory. Home of the infamous "Stroller Mafia," I've already heard horror stories of rabid parents who, if they so much as imagine even the tiniest slight against their children will terrorize the local businesses into submission. A friend of mine told me that a bookstore there had parents protesting the stocking of Disney Princess books, because they were misogynistic. In looking for part-time daycare for the Juban Princeling, I found one place that seemed normal and nice, only to discover that not only was there a waiting list for a coveted spot at this place, but it was impossible to get the Princeling on that waiting list. This is an under-two-years-old daycare. And I could not get my six-month old son on the waiting list for a half-day twice-weekly spot. The WAITING LIST!
Clearly, we are dealing with more than your average "soccer moms" and "little league dads" here. I've gone ahead and joined a popular neighborhood website that is the unofficial online HQ of the Stroller Mafia. My goal is to slowly and subtly infiltrate this crowd so I can make some Mommy Friends, make some playdates for the Princeling, and generally not feel like an outcast in our new community. However, I'm a little scared of what I will encounter. I had a c-section and formula feed the Princeling.
I'm a SAHM who will be putting my baby into part-time daycare purely so he can start socializing with other babies and get used to other caretakers. I don't pay attention to which brand of strollers we schlep him around in, and the Princeling's wardrobe is full of non-organic clothes. During the Princeling's baths we sing and dance along to M.I.A. or Missy Elliot, not Baby Einstein. The Princeling does not co-sleep in our bed.
Although we buy Seventh Generation diapers, they are still disposable, and not cloth diapers hand-woven by me from cotton I grew myself during my pregnancy. Our recycling bin is full of empty bottles of wine that we drank before putting the baby to bed - in his own crib. We drink tap water and also use it for our baby's bottles. And although we buy only organic formula and baby food, we still buy it rather than make it ourselves from fruits and vegetables grown in a little plot of land in a community garden. The Princeling and I are not currently enrolled in any Mommy and Me classes. I have a feeling we're not exactly going to blend in.
Moving to Park Slope reminds me of the three semesters I spent at a very small but very crunchy liberal arts school out West. While my fellow students went around wearing dreadlocks in their white kid hair, playing Frisbee golf and hackeysack, and composting their trash for their marijuana plants, I ordered cheeseburgers in the dining hall. The looks I got clearly told me I might as well have been torturing baby cows in front of the mommy cows, for all my meat-eating, animal-hating, earth-trashing, consumerist wickedness.
I'm afraid that if it's found out, in Park Slope, that I buy my baby's food in jars, the Stroller Mafia will set up a picket line outside our building with candles and vigils and big signs stapled to sticks and songs and chants like, "One, two, three, four! Giving your baby food out of a jar will decrease his IQ and make him anti-social and give him ADD and he won't be able to learn a second language and won't get into college and he'll end up a homeless beggar by the time he's 25 because you are the worst mother ever!" Though, being the Stroller Mafia, I'm sure they can come up with something catchier, and rhyming.
Husband is already making noises about us possibly joining the Park Slope Food Co-Op as a way to save money on groceries, as well as get involved with our new community. Of course, he's also been reading books like "The Omnivore's Delimma" lately, so he's already a step ahead of me as far as crunching up for our big move next week. He still eats meat with me, but now the meat we buy has to be farm-raised, grass-fed, hormone-free, massaged daily, sung to, manicured, pedicured, and allowed to talk about its feelings before it is gently soothed into the Big Grass Field in the Sky so we can sink our teeth into its delicious, bloody flesh.
Maybe Husband can put in a good word for me with the Stroller Mafia.