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." 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 down side of being a bombshell • Sure, getting doted on at restaurants or discounts at bars or let into clubs is great, but there's a flip-side: the guy who sees me in his car and follows me into the restaurant I go into, or the guy from the bar that 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. 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 girlfriends know I'm not after their guys, the guys know 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.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.