Smartmom Moves On

August 22, 2010

The first in a three-part series about the end of a six-year run as Brooklyn’s official smart mom.

A few months ago, Dumb Editor told Smartmom that he wanted a younger columnist with younger offspring for The Brooklyn Paper’s award-nominated parenting column. Smartmom felt like she was being stabbed.

“You’re killing Smartmom?” she asked.

“Don’t say it like that,” he replied, and blathered on about demographics, advertising, parents and that damn couch that Smartmom spent 12 columns on last year year.

Smartmom went through a variety of feelings about Dumb Editor’s decision to dump her.

First she was in denial. She reckoned it would take months, even years, for Dumb Editor to find a suitable replacement. She didn’t tell anyone because she really didn’t think it was going to happen. Obviously, Dumb Editor would see the light of day and change his mind.

Soon after, Smartmom got angry. Really angry. In her mind Dumb Editor became Mean Editor. She couldn’t think about him without sneering. She composed angry letters in her mind attacking him for his shortsightedness. How could he kill poor innocent Smartmom? What a jerk!

Smartmom decided that Mean Editor was ageist, that he was discriminating against Smartmom for being a 51-year-old mom with a pair of teenagers, one college-bound this summer. What was so wrong with writing about a 13-year-old and a 19-year-old? Don’t teens need to be parented, too? Were babies the only kind of children worth writing about? Surely there was already enough on Park Slope Parents and Babble about breastfeeding and Bugaboos.

Then the self-hatred kicked in. Dumb Editor’s “rejection” really did a number on Smartmom’s self-esteem. For a short period of time, she had writer’s block and even trouble coming up with ideas for new columns. She started to doubt herself as a writer. Was she really irrelevant and over the hill? Was she really out of tune with her Brooklyn readership?

As time passed, Smartmom slowly began to accept the inevitable. She even began to feel better. The support of her friends and family was significant in this regard.

Many of her friends and neighbors were shocked that Smartmom was being “killed off.” They were incredulous that Mean Editor would do such a thing and that they wouldn’t be reading about the trials and tribulations of her life while sipping coffee at Connecticut Muffin.

Smartmom was soothed by their kind words and she began to adjust. She decided that she would leave the Brooklyn stage with grace and dignity. It wouldn’t do to curse out Mean Editor and leave The Brooklyn Paper by emergency slide like that Jet Blue flight attendant.

Plus, didn’t Dumb Editor offer her an entirely new neighborhood column? Yes, somewhere in the mists of her bitterness, she remembers him mentioning that, as he grabbed the last bite of the brownie they were supposedly sharing.

The Oh So Feisty One was greatly relieved to hear about the imminent demise of Smartmom. It’s no secret that she absolutely hated being the subject of a column in a widely circulated, popular newspaper read by her friends and the parents of her friends. An intensely private person, she was happy to hear that her life would no longer be the subject of public conversation.

However, when she told Teen Spirit that Dumb Editor thought the column should end when he left for college, he was aghast.

“But what about OSFO? You can still write about her,” he said.

This surprised Smartmom. She knew that Teen Spirit found the articles about himself irritating and that he’d stopped reading the column ages ago. Still, he thought it unfair that OSFO would now be out of the limelight that she herself hated.

Hepcat wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Smartmom’s termination. He rather liked being stopped on the street every now and again.

“Are you Hepcat?” people would say.

“I am the person on whom Hepcat is loosely based,” he would tell them.

The columns were also an easy way to check in with Smartmom about what she was thinking and feeling — a whole lot easier than actually having a conversation with Smartmom because sometimes those talks would result in arguments or long whining sessions. Now, he would have to talk to Smartmom and that might be a tad inconvenient.

Strangely, Smartmom not only accepted the idea that the column was coming to an end, but she even began to like the idea. It would certainly make things easier between her and OSFO, who would no longer have to fear that Smartmom would write about something she didn’t want other people to know about.

Smartmom also realized it was time to move on to new things. She’d been writing the column for almost six years, and she’d probably said all she needed to say about being a smart mom in Brooklyn.

Still with just three columns to go, Smartmom is feeling a tad nostalgic. She remembers the day six years ago when Mean Editor wined and dined her at the Tea Lounge, trying to lure her to his newspaper. Smartmom remembers that he even bought her a cup of coffee (not a latte, mind you) and told her how much he liked her writing.

Well, we know how that story ends — and what a double whammy for Smartmom. Teen Spirit is going off to college, and Smartmom is being axed from The Brooklyn Paper.

What’s a smart mom to do?

Filed under: Civics and Urban Life, Smartmom  by · 4 Comments
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4 Comments on Smartmom Moves On

  1. sadam on Sun, 22nd Aug 2010 6:25 pm
  2. I looked forward to your column every week. It is the best read in the weekly Brooklyn Brownstone paper.Dumb editor is the most boring writer..that weekly rap sheet is not amusing..

    Your column was like rubber necking …
    How did you put your
    family to this weekly scrutiny..I could empathize with the growing pains and you were always so hip in your taste of music, poems, movies, etc. They should call

    you Hip/Hep and the arbiter of edginess

    Hey that is an idea for your new column..Hip and Hep.

  3. Dadu on Sun, 22nd Aug 2010 6:40 pm
  4. Obviously, OSFO should be writing “SmartKid,” and then your name will still be in the paper.

  5. Peter Loffredo on Mon, 23rd Aug 2010 5:01 pm
  6. Congratulations, Smartmom! Change is not only inevitable, but it is usually life-enhancing and life-affirming, if we let it be. Perhaps this is the moment for you to redefine yourself, not as a mom or wife first, but as… a writer, an adult woman in her prime in NYC, yourself? Go for it! I have enjoyed your column, and enjoyed bantering with you on your blog about the parenting and marriage topics, but I greatly look forward to hearing what you have to say about things that aren’t about your kids or husband.
    All the best,
    Peter Loffredo
    http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/

  7. Lisa on Tue, 31st Aug 2010 11:28 am
  8. I’m so disappointed to hear this news – the family nature of Park Slope (and community) is one of this neighborhood’s greatest gifts and strengths. My kids are now in the Middle School and High School age group now too and I have valued your insights and humor so much over the past years — Please don’t leave us hanging now! I need your insight and humor more now than ever!!! Brooklyn Papers — a new column on parenting for teens and young adults? I know many families who would love it!