Susan Konig

July, 2015


Trending: The Moms of New York

Entertainment geared towards women follows certain trends.

We’ve had the whole Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon featuring a curious young woman willingly subjecting herself to the punishment of a dashing, super wealthy man.

Now we have the hot new TV series Odd Mom Out and bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue featuring super wealthy young women of New York’s super wealthy Upper East Side willingly subjecting themselves to the punishment of dashing, super wealthy men, grueling spin classes, and steady diets of kale.

In Primates of Park Avenue, Dr. Wednesday Martin examines the ladies of the Upper East Side through a sociological prism. She observes them as an exotic tribe to be studied.

I know a little something about this tribe. When my husband and I first started having kids, we lived on the Upper East Side but then I kept having more kids so we had to flee to the suburbs because we were stacking the kids up like cord wood in the apartment.

In the Bravo hit show Odd Mom Out, creator Jill Kargman plays Jill Weber, a fictionalized version of Jill Kargman (how’d she get that part?), who is always struggling to keep up with the faux blonde, super skinny hedge fund wives who live on a steady diet of kale and coffee.

I could never keep up with those super skinny Upper East Side moms either. During my four pregnancies I gained a total of 185 pounds. I lost most of it. I mean, you can’t always go back to what you weighed in your 20s can you?

I was super skinny in my 20s because I was always on some crazy diet — the beet diet, the Fresca diet, the nothing diet. But I am a big boned Irish girl who could never be a waif on the Upper East Side or anywhere else for that matter.

On Martin and Kargman’s Upper East Side, much is made of the obsession with super healthy living. The moneyed mommy mafia take spin classes, they sweat through hot yoga, they eat kale. A lot of kale. No, really they are constantly eating kale. I’ve tried eating kale. I don’t care for it. It tastes kaley.

The doyennes of the Upper East Side also live in constant fear of coop boards. They must subject themselves to the snooty judgmental boards who weigh their worthiness to gain entry to these exclusive residences.

When we lived on the Upper East Side, we got around board approval by renting an apartment. We didn’t have a snooty coop board judging us but we did have something equally terrifying – our apartment was infested with mice.

My husband and I waged war on those pests using glue traps, steel wool, a broom, wrapping paper, a bucket and much screaming and cursing. What do you do with vermin who are stuck to glue traps at 3 in the morning while yelling and hyperventilating (my husband, not the mice)? If you are my husband, you spear the trap with a cardboard wrapping paper tube and throw it javelin style out the window. I’ll bet that never happens on Park Avenue.
Of all the insights into the strange life of the Upper East Side mom perhaps the most peculiar is Dr. Martin’s revelation that some of the uber-wives of Park Avenue can expect to receive yearly bonuses from their rich husbands for doing a good job as a wife and mother at the mega Manhattan level.
In my marriage, there’s no intricate system of bonuses and rewards but money is certainly a motivator. Here’s how it works. Both my husband and I work very hard and we take every cent and put it towards our kids’ tuitions so they can get educated, employed and (hopefully) move out.

Thanks to Kargman and Martin we can take a vicarious trip to the strange world of the super wealthy Upper East Side. It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Susan Konig is the author of a motherhood trilogy: Teenagers & Toddlers Are Trying to Kill Me!, I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family and Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road and other lies I tell my children. She is the founder of Willow Street Press.