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Advice for Neurotic Mothers and Others

March 4th, 2005

Welcome to the Friday Advice Column for Neurotic Mothers and Others:

Q: What do you tell your five-year-old son (who loves to make things
from household items) when he finds some tampons (good rocketship
material) and wants to know what they are (I simply said “Tampons”) but
more importantly wants to know what they are for?

A: What a resourceful kid! I’d congratulate him, first, on being so
creative. If he’s asking questions, give him some answers. “They’re for
my period. That’s when women bleed once a month, if they’re not having
a baby. Girls use tampons and pads for the blood.” I usually explain
privacy issues to my kids, too, ie — “We don’t need to talk about this
with other kids or grown-ups, it’s private.”

Then take the tampon from him, go find your husband’s athletic cup (a
clean one, of course) and give him that to play with, instead. It makes
a great drum.

Q: Dear Wacky Mommy,

I have heard about the joys of children. I understand they make your life

better. And I would have some, except for one thing — I can’t count on

either my genes or my husband’s.

You see, within my double helix are many, many strands that would guarantee

insanity, drug addiction and overall sociopathic behavior (thanks, dad) and

frigidity (thanks, mom). Meanwhile, while I love my husband dearly, within

him lies the genes for depression, obesity, frequent naps and a life

attitude that can best be summed up by the motto — “Fuck it, gimme a


On the other hand, I hear that dogs are like children in a lot of ways —

they require commitment and have to be taught where to crap. Plus, they

never have to be sent through school, and if they crash your car, you have a

shot at getting on Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Trick” segment.

So, what do you think is right for me, dogs or kids? Before you

automatically choose children, know that I am a self-centered, easily peeved


Please sign me,

Bad Genes Make Bad Brains

A: Hmmm. Do kids make your life better? It’s sort of like having a
great pair of legs — you don’t suddenly get them when you’re older if
you haven’t had them all along. I’ve always wanted kids (and great
legs), but that doesn’t mean it’s been a smooth ride since they
arrived. Plus, they don’t exactly look or act like me or my husband
(although they do look exactly like each other), so that has me
confused at times. It’s like, “Where did they come from?” They amaze
and baffle me.

What about all the people who think “There is no way I’d have the
patience, i’m too selfish,” etc., and once the kid arrives they’re
geniuses at it? As for working and having kids — I think it’s super
for kids to see that their parents have g.d. lives, outside of them.
This whole Yuppie Parenting thing, where you have to play with them
non-stop, buy them the best wooden toys, feed them nutritious,
homecooked meals, blah blah blah, yikes!! I mean, a lot of my friends
are into “Attachment Parenting” (more on that another day) but Wacky
Mom and Pops are into “Detachment Parenting.” We spend a lot of time
together, but my kids are independent and have their own things going
on — racing around, toy trains, Groovy Girls, dollhouses, glue sticks,
glitter, etc.

What about the people who are convinced they want kids, they’re
absolutely certain, fertility drugs, charted sex, then $20,000 later,
the kid arrives and it turns out, damn, they have no paternal/materal
genes at all? None. Whoops. And you can’t send them back, although you
can hire a nanny, if you have the cash, and pray for the best. Or turn
them over to a friend or relative.

It’s a crapshoot, hon. Literally. There is a lot of crap involved in
this parenthood trip. Look at your motivations for having kids, ask
your husband about his, and go from there. You’ll make the decision
that’s best for you.

Re: Whimsical men. Wacky Daddy’s motto is “Fuck it, I’m playing hockey”
(“…then having a Pabst’s Blue Ribbon when I get home.”) Has it harmed
our family? No, it has made us stronger. He drives me nuts when he’s
not playing hockey. “It’s okay to drink, just don’t drink and drink,”
that’s my motto. (If it’s a problem in your life, get off the sauce,
though!) Buy your husband some hockey skates and shove his ass off the
couch. There, see how easy that was?

On to insanity. You aren’t promised or guaranteed anything, including
insanity, in this godforsaken wilderness we call life. You sound fine
to me (this is not medical advice, so don’t sue). If you’re not insane
by now, the “crazy gene” probably skipped you. And no, it’s not like
twins, skipping a generation. Do you have siblings? Are they insane?
Maybe they got it, instead. Or their kids will. See?

The three most “sane” members of my family all took their own lives,
mainly cuz they felt like they didn’t fit in. They felt like failures,
but the deal is — they were the most swell people in my family. All
three were kind, compassionate and decent guys in the universe. In my
universe :) (Wacky Mommy’s sister J says “You ever notice it’s always
the wrong people who kill themselves?”)

However, the people in my family who genuinely are failures, well, they’re still around, being assholes. Life, she is not fair.

None of this stopped me and WD from having babies. We just make sure to
give the kids lots of loving and tell them daily how much they matter
in the world, that they are somebody, that they need to remember who
they are, every time they leave the house. I try to encourage them to
do a lot of art, ballet, dance and music — lots of music — write,
look out for our friends and each other, all that kind of stuff.

I know, I know, DNA can get you, I know this. So can a speeding SUV, driven by a yuppie mom in a hurry.

But I think there is sometimes a willingness to slip into darkness. Is
it that insanity/suicide/alcoholism is in your genes, or is it more of
a contagion? Environmental, learned behavior, a curse? (Did anyone see
“Lost” this week? All about numbers and curses, so freaking good.) Once
someone in the family opens that door, it makes it easier for others to
walk through it.

In the words of John Irving, “Keep passing the open windows.”

And don’t get a dog, please God, no. I fucking hate dogs. More on that later.

Wacky Mommy loves you.

1 Comment

  1. Roxie says

    Ya Hoo Wacky Mommy,

    Your advice . . . it’s all good, and true also. Worrying about the crazies will make you insane. I worried about a bazillion things that could go wrong if me and Mr. Roxie had babies; diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, depression (mostly auto-immune problems) since both our families have histories with these problems. We went ahead and procreated anyway. Yes, one kid has asthma and a auto-immune deficiency. But hey, he’s the best kid ever. He’s funny, sensitive, sweet and caring. My life is so much better with him. The other one, my Putti, is a wild thing who takes my breath away. I love all my kids so much. In summation, it’s worth the risk. Describing what it’s like to be a parent is like describing delicious. It’s different for all of us.

    March 9th, 2005 | #

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