Last year, Smartmom organized the first “Edgy Mother’s Day” reading at the Old Stone House because she noticed that quite a few women were writing about motherhood in interesting and non-sanctimonious ways.
It was a great reading — a nearly three-hour marathon of stories about life in the trenches of mommydom featuring Susan Gregory Thomas, author of “Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Mothers and Harms Children”; New York Magazine writer Amy Sohn; Sophia Romero, author of the novel “Always Hiding” and the blog “the Shiksa from Manila”; Mary Warren, author of the blog “Mrs. Cleavage’s Diary”; Alison Lowenstein of “City Baby Brooklyn”; poet Michele Somerville Madigan and others.
About a month ago on a rainy Sunday on Seventh Avenue, Smartmom ran into Sohn, who proposed doing another Edgy Mom’s reading.
Smartmom didn’t think twice. Despite the fact that she was busy organizing the Brooklyn Blogfest and writing a book proposal, she said, “Sure” without batting an eye.
Smartmom was pleased that the Edgy Mom Reading concept has a life of its own. And she knew that Sohn, the ultimate edgy mom, would be the perfect partner in crime.
Within days, Sohn had managed to attract a top-notch group of writers.
The May 15 reading, at the packed Montauk Club in Park Slope, was a stunning success. Christine Clifford, who stars in a one-woman show called “BabyLove” at the 45 Bleecker Theater, entertained and even shocked the crowd with a monologue about, yes, masturbating while breast-feeding.
Midway through the monologue, Smartmom spotted the Oh So Feisty One sitting in the front row.
“I can’t believe there’s a girl listening to this,” she said covering her eyes.
This embarrassed the 11-year-old OSFO more than Clifford’s tales of vibrators and breast milk and she walked out of the reading with her aunt, Diaper Diva. Smartmom was sorry that Clifford made a fuss. OSFO probably would have stuck out the evening and even enjoyed Amy Benfer’s Juno-like story about giving birth to a daughter at age 16 and deciding to raise her alone — with the help of her mom, dad, and various friends. Her daughter, who is now 18, was in the audience — there was not a dry eye in the grand parlor of the Montauk Club.
Smartmom was up next with a column about the similarities between raising kids and growing mushrooms.
Afterwards, Smartmom introduced the always-controversial Sohn, who regaled the crowd with a hilarious tale about her ill-fated efforts to get her daughter into Brooklyn Heights Montessori pre-school.
Poet Michele Madigan Sullivan delighted the crowd with her sassy, virtuosic poem about Elmo. Sophia Romero read a wonderful excerpt from her blog, and Louise Sloane read from her memoir, “Knock Yourself Up: A Tell-All Guide To Becoming a Single Mom.”
Finally, Lenore Skenazy read her column from the New York Sun about the time she let her 9-year-old ride the subway. For Smartmom, it was thrilling to see her hero laugh along with her own words.
“Was I worried? Yes, a tinge. But it didn’t strike me as that daring, either,” Skenazy said. “Isn’t New York as safe now as it was in 1963? It’s not like we’re living in Baghdad.”
After the reading, Sohn and Smartmom raffled off goody bags donated by Babeland, the sex toy store that will open in June on Bergen Street near Fifth Avenue.
Smartmom isn’t sure if Skenazy appreciated the gift. As she left, she handed it to Divorce Diva and said, “I don’t need this.”
Smartmom doesn’t think she was offended. A few days after the reading she sent this note:
“The event was stupendous in that everyone (except me) wrote about something so intimate, so openly that it made anyone worried about being TOO edgy feel like, ‘Well, at least I’m not hiding my vibrator under the doormat!’ It also made me realize that there are at least seven great women writers out there, bringing everyday life into the world of glittering yet supremely accessible prose — and poetry.”
Over drinks after the show, Smartmom and crew tried to define “edgy mom.”
“She’s a mom who views imagination (both living it and imparting it) as integral to child-rearing, which flies in the face of the holy ‘mom’ idea, whereby one is supposed to grow out of being imaginative,” Somerville said.
“She is unconventional; she views the world through a different pair of lens than what she was raised with,” said Romero. “She is resolute in this pursuit and does it with a great sense of conviction, purpose, and doesn’t need to apologize to anyone, least of all her own mother.”
Romero added that an edgy mom isn’t afraid to expose her frailties and vulnerabilities to her children.
“I allow them to express their anger, frustration and disappointment with me without fear of recrimination,” she said.
Best of all, like Smartmom, Romero watches “Gossip Girl” with her daughter. Unlike Smartmom, she still snuggles with her teenage son and watches re-runs of “Star Trek Voyager.”
Teen Spirit would rather die.
Later that evening, Smartmom explored her goody bag from Babeland. Inside, there was a hot pink vibrator, a mojito and peppermint-scented candle, a container of Babe Lube (whatever that is), and a silver, egg-shaped vibrator with a controller that looks like a dimmer switch.
Smartmom isn’t sure what all this has to do with being an edgy mom, but she does know that a major tenet of edgy momdom is that a woman’s desire for creativity and pleasure doesn’t stop when she has kids.
In fact, it’s a great time to explore who you really are.