IS THE END NIGH?

There's an article in the Willamette Week focusing on local blogs. I ran across this excerpt of one they recommend by Ronnie Cordova:

    I actually live in the Sunnyside neighborhood, which is jampacked with women who self-identify as "hip mamas," presumably because they push baby strollers but would prefer you didn't think of them as "mothers" in the vaguely pejorative way they are certain you mean that term. They are always putting ads in Craigslist looking for other "hip mamas" to get together with, perhaps with the intention of linking their individual smugnesses into larger more formidable smugness battalions to patrol the side streets sneering at childless people who actually wouldn't trade places with the "hip mamas" if you paid them enormous sums of cash money and lied about how great it is.

I am probably just the person he is writing about. I live in Sunnyside (or just south of it). I push my kid around in a stroller. Also, I used the very words in my last journal entry "hip new mom," which must indicate that I am the blight of Hawthorne he refers to. Hell, I possibly bumped into him at the ATM machine, and he hates me because I rolled over his foot or something.

We've all heard about the urban-rural divide; the tone of this entry encapsulates the breeder/non-breeder divide in this neighborhood--maybe in this country. The very thing that I recognized after my own tot was born is that Hawthorne is really two neighborhoods, and that the people who live in one never mingle with those in the other, unless forced to by proximity of their tables at a restaurant.

The childless feel put-upon because there are messy, slightly odiferous, possibly ebullient small people infringing on their adult activity, and the child-rearing feel awkward and persona non grata in two-thirds of the places they used to frequent. It is an uneasy co-existence, and both sides seem to resent, or are confused by, the other.

A friend loaned me a book the other day, one of those rollicking humorous looks at parenthood that makes me wonder if I may be making others cringe with the same slightly nausea-inducing force that this book did. One of the reviews on the jacket (from the utterly obscure "American Way" magazine) calls the author "The Dave Barry of motherhood."

I might drive a pitchfork in my grey matter if that was the only commendation that someone could come up with for my ramblings about parenthood. I would loathe to discover that I was writing in that folksy, jocular style that spans Andy Rooney or Erma Bombeck (If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why Am I Always in the Whorehouse?) But I think about this all the time. I often pause when I'm writing yet another entry, because deep inside I wonder if I'm producing the same bile-inducing bilge that makes me shudder when it's not me doing the writing.

Am I embarrassed because there is some personal shame about my writing, which I feel is generally pretty good, or am I embarrassed because I am a parent, and writing about it is gauche, tacky, and utterly unoriginal? Am I ashamed because I worry I may believe this guy's criticism, that I am pretentious about perhaps the most mundane human activity on earth?

I have pondered on many occasions over the last couple of months whether this entry may be the last entry, not because I don't enjoy writing about parenthood, but because I fear that I have become the cliche parent. I don't scrapbook, but I might as well.

The breeder/non-breeder divide is a deep one, and this person hit a chord for me, perhaps because of his proximity, perhaps because I've only recently written about my own alienation from the other side, perhaps just because I don't know if I believe my own copy.

Is this the beginning of the end? Tune in next week for another episode of As the Bun Turns.