Issue July 2, 2008

Suburban Turmoil – An Introduction

Written by: LINDSAY FERRIER

I’m a bitch with a capital “C.”

At least, that’s what one dad decided after I wrote online not long ago that I wouldn’t invite a stay-at-home dad friend to my women-only playgroup. I reasoned that my mom friends and I needed a refuge where we could discuss everything from vaginal discharge to Anthony Wiggle’s hotness ranking, without some testosterone-dripping daddy messing up the vibe. In response, a small but emotional online army of dads-gone-mad responded by calling me everything from “rude, crass and thoughtless” to “a bigoted, self-righteous, conceited cow.”

Suburban Turmoil
Suburban Turmoil

Writing about parenting, I’ve found, stirs the pot like nobody’s business. And on that note, hello, Louisville! My name is Lindsay Ferrier, and I’m a stepmother of two teenage girls, mother of a four-year-old girl and one-year-old boy, wife of a TV reporter with a heart every bit as big as his ego, and writer both of this column and a blog by the same name. 

Generally, I like to poke a little fun at parenthood and life in the suburbs. I may dwell among the plastic people, but that doesn’t mean I’m one of them, and plenty of you have assured me that I’m far from alone. But as I’ve mentioned, not everyone has been entirely happy with what I’ve had to say, and those are the stories you really want to hear, right? Well, OK then. 

On one occasion I went undercover, donning capris to attend a snooty brunch with a group of mothers from an upscale chapter of the MOMS Club. When I later wrote in my column that I felt out of place amid their well-heeled chatter about nipple shields and soy nuggets, the MOMS Club mommies let me have it, leaving scores of comments on my website that accused me of everything from wearing too much makeup to waiting tables at Red Lobster. “Mugsy should have thrown your stupid ass out of there!” one of them wrote before inviting all of my readers to come see for themselves “how fucking nice and fucking fun we all are!”

Another time, I made the mistake of writing about my indecision over whether to circumcise my son. I received hundreds of responses, including claims that doctors wanted to harvest my son’s foreskin to make face cream, heartfelt anti-circumcision songs, graphic operating table video, and overly intimate details from men and women on both sides of the issue.

“I am definitely a woman who has seen a few penises,” one woman wrote. “And trust me, not that you want to think about this, but SNIP.”

A reader named Ron disagreed. “Your kids will

despise you for making them mutilated freaks when they learn how wonderful the foreskin is,” he informed me. 

Then there was the time I interviewed fellow mom Martina McBride for a network television program, writing afterward that while most celebrity encounters gave me plenty of gossip about suspected drug habits and diva-like behavior, the only dirt I could find on Martina was that she didn’t flush the toilet. In response, I received furious phone calls from all sorts of industry types who were incensed that I had implied a glorious star like Martina might actually poop.

“I will make sure the word is out in Nashville and Los Angeles that you are not to be trusted,” one LA casting agent wrote. “You bad mouth celebrities and what you did is worse than anything I have seen a celebrity do!” 

I also explored unschooling, a form of home schooling in which parents allow their kids to decide what, when and if they want to learn. Unschooling my own stepdaughters for 24 hours, I monitored them like a M.A.C.-enhanced Dian Fossey while they stayed up until 2 a.m., slept for most of the following day and then played video games until finally passing out in a pile of Seventeen magazines and Fruit Roll-Ups wrappers. Unschoolers across the nation howled with outrage at my carefully conducted research, some accusing me of secret involvement in a media conspiracy against them that also included Dr. Phil and The New York Times. One teenager in particular really made me question my findings when she wrote, “hi, Im 15 and Unschoolde, and I think from reading your exsperience on unschooling that you did it all wrong!” Well, my young friend, you sure showed me. Clearly, unschooling works!

In short, I’ve worked hard to expose the dark, jam-finger-smudged crevices of parenting in my own neighborhood, where motherhood, once faintly Lysol-scented and adorned with Mikimoto pearls, now lies stinking and exposed, flies buzzing about its permanently Kool-Aid stained carcass. I’m ready now to turn those Mommy Eyes in the back of my head onto you, too, Louisville. Let’s be friends. Hell, let’s let our kids be friends.

But if you’re a dude, don’t even think about asking to join my playgroup.