Advice columnist

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On sweating every little choice you make with a baby:

I have a 6-month-old who is fun but challenging; I didn’t get the “easy” baby that my mother told me I’d get.

I desperately tried to get right with my totally reasonable decision to wean her at 3 months. My sister told me in the midst of one of my many early anxiety attacks: “All the things that are ‘best’ for baby are TINY fractions of a percentage point better than the ‘second-best’ things. Family decisions are not made well on ‘the best for her.’ Instead, they are made as a series of complex risk/benefit analyses that take into account the impact on everyone.”

(Nick Galifianakis)

Essentially, she granted me permission to be a family-centered parent rather than a baby-centered parent — and that really works for me.

I’ve felt much calmer ever since. It was her modern, helpful, lovely way of telling me not to sweat the small stuff.

Calmer Than I Used to Be

On the downside of being a bombshell:

Sure, being doted on at restaurants, getting discounts at bars or being let into clubs is great, but there’s a flip side: the guy in his car who sees me and follows me into the restaurant, the guy from the bar who followed me into the bathroom or the guys who would show up at my house in college after midnight all the time looking for a little action without any prompting on my part.

The fact that I’m intelligent and have a perverse sense of humor doesn’t help in the least. I’ve had to learn to not be myself around men. I can’t touch them, make dirty jokes, laugh too much, wear anything too sexy or do anything that can appear to be flirting.

And this is why, when I’m around my friends or my husband’s friends, I let loose — the jokes flow, I laugh my bass off and — from someone else’s point of view — I’m a huge flirt looking for attention that I already get way too much of.

But all I want is to have normal relationships with men, and my friends are a safe place for that. My friends know that I’m not after their guys, the guys know that I’m happily married and my husband gleefully points out when men check me out or pats me on the back when I handle another ambush by some drunk, single guy at a wedding with grace.


On parents who keep exposing their kids to bullies out of loyalty to (or fear of) the bullies’ parents:

I was bullied as a child, frequently and in full sight of adults: parents, teachers, scoutmasters, coaches — you name it. In the 1960s, if a child couldn’t stick up for himself or herself, well, that was just too bad.

As I grew in size and strength, I found ways to stick up for myself and later learned to stick up for others. As a mature adult, I consider it a moral imperative to speak for the oppressed at every opportunity.

I’m a peaceful person and a mellow fellow. But show me a bully, and I will go to war.


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