Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh Those Yahoooos!

Yahoooo for Yahoo?
by Suze Allen 955 Words

When I log onto my computer every morning, copious emails from my yahoo groups have flooded my inbox overnight. I belong to five. There’s one for my daughter’s preschool, one for my homebirth collective, one for the theatre board I work with, another for a literary committee I serve on and one from my neighborhood parenting group. It’s this last one that’s especially intriguing, informative, and drives me absolutely crazy. It is a world unto itself with a fascinating cast of characters; a culture of parents that I live among but hardly know. And when I’m cruising Cortland for errands or hanging out with my kids at Holly Park, I can’t help but wonder if the other Mom’s and Dad’s are Mac whose son is older and attends surf camp, Sally whose daughter won’t nap anymore, Caitlin who is building an eco-friendly house or Dr. Rapine whose fierce political take on car emissions and “no praise” for children stirs the group to near riot.

There is one person on the listserve who I am obsessed with. Her name’s Rianna and she knows something about everything! Seriously, she weighs in on sleep training, the right stroller for cobblestone sidewalks in Europe, kid friendly brunch places, organic bedding, financial planners, nipple confusion, local merchants going out of business, car seats on airplanes, where to get knives sharpened, how to choose a preschool, whether to buy a Peg-Perego highchair or a Svan, where to find a cool hair colorist, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, how fast plastic bottles break down and become hazardous to your child and even where you can go for a cheap cocktail. Rianna’s emails are well researched, impeccably written and she is not prone to brevity.

Although, I’ve never met her, I see her in my mind. She is tall and willowy because she’s found the perfect Pilates teacher and takes yoga classes daily at a local studio. Her haircut is fabulous and her daughter speaks Spanish and French and goes to all the most popular music and toddler observation classes. Rianna’s husband adores her and they have a loving nanny who watches little Zinnia late on Thursdays so she and her husband can have date night at various expensive restaurants throughout the city and take in a play at ACT or some music at The Fillmore. Rianna is “Super Perfect Mom”. So up on everything that she makes me feel like a country bumpkin. I imagine that before she had Zinnia and stayed at home she was a high-powered executive in a Fortune 500 company working 80-hour weeks. Now that it’s just her and Zinnia, Rianna has so much time on her hands she manages her neighborhood parenting group with all the fervor that she used to use to seal a five million dollar deal.

I, on the other hand, have written in to sell my “gently used” Ergo backpack, tell how my daughter potty trained at 18 months, share my rainy day kid activities and tell everyone on the list why they should take my writing classes and get massages from my husband. I am “Super Dud Mom”. I really couldn’t tell you about family friendly vacation spots in Mexico or how to get your kids to sleep anywhere but in your own bed. I have never hired a financial planner, a gardener, a knife sharpener, or bought furniture that wasn’t from Ikea. But I think my kids like me. And I have a few friends who are Moms. We mostly talk about how exhausted we are, how sorting through your children’s clothes is so time consuming and how much we despise playgrounds. When I compare my life with those in my neighborhood parent group, I feel dull and listless. Like I’ve never really lived. The polar opposite of Rianna.
I don’t know how my mother raised me without all of this input. I know I am chock full of petroleum products and unorganic beef but I feel pretty well adjusted. My brain seems to function at a normal level and I used to think that I was fairly well read, but a lot of the information I find in my parenting yahoo group just makes me feel like I haven’t done my research. Why don’t I know more about the speed at which plastic breaks down in the microwave or what month to sign my son up for T-ball or how I could have hired a sleep trainer for my daughter before my personality changed from sleep deprivation? Just reading the neighborhood yahoo group is making me feel like a bad parent.

A few days ago, I even got reprimanded from the moderator for sending too many emails about my husband’s massage business. She told me that if I sent one more email trying to sell the group something that I would be labeled a “spammer” and asked to leave. Ouch!

I keep thinking that I’m going to unsubscribe but it’s become a guilty pleasure, like tuning into daytime television. Will Sally rally enough Moms to make new baby meals for Kennet? Can baby Jessie transition into her crib and finally sleep through the night, giving her poor parents their life back? Will Jack’s cross-country movers treat his stuff well? Where is the best sushi in the city? Will Dr. Rapine rail against the capitalist system again? And is there a good book on grieving for a pet?

I don’t actually know many people in my neighborhood but I know what they are thinking about. I know what their young children are up to and I know that most of them seem to have a lot more money than I do. Isn’t that weird?

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