Raising Babybats; or On Being a Gothy Parent

Well Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners thought she knew what this month’s lesson was going to be about. But that was before the Lady of the Manners received a couple of letters with the same heartfelt query. A heartfelt query that the Lady of the Manners could not ignore: Do you have to turn in your Goth Card once you become a parent?

Dear Head Mistress,

I have been a Goth since I was 13. I am more of an industrial Goth (I
wear stompy boots even to my government job) I wear sparse make-up
(think Lydia Deitz a la Beetlejuice) and I have short hair. I am
currently 25-years-old and mother of two glorious children. I am
married to a non-Goth. My question is this: does being a mother ruin
your Goth creds? Am I no longer a Goth because I have two children
and a non-Goth husband? Believe me, I feel that I am Goth through and
through, and so do my friends. I plan on being a Goth forever, it is
in my blood. I just like living life too.
Also, does wearing well applied but sparse make-up make one not Goth?
I would very much value your opinion. I am having a bit of an
identity crisis. Thank you.

Yours,

Jill Momma Goth

****

dearest headmistress,
i am finding conflict between myself, a goth since 11, now going on
27. i have been wed for 8 years now to a wonderfully dark man who
looks like the bastard son of alice cooper (and yes i know thats not
the artists real name.) alas the problem im facing is that now that
we have two lovely little girls, im having difficultly being mysterious
and foreboding with two little ones tugging at my skirts. my lady, is
it time to retire my dark ways? do you have any wisdom to share with
one who has been givin the title of “mommy”?
With gratitude,
Melissa

Is it time to retire your dark ways? Does being a mother ruin your Goth cred? Good heavens, NO. Not in the slightest.

Now, the Lady of the Manners can see where this sort of confusion or worry springs from. To many people (including those who are part of the spookily-clad masses), being a Goth involves a regular schedule of nightclubbing, parties, and a wildly impractical taste in clothing. If that is all being a Goth is to them, then of course it seems as if being a Goth is incompatible with being a parent.

However, for the majority of the spooky creatures of the night, being a Goth means more than just clubs, parties, and eccentric clothing. (Though the Lady of the Manners is fond of all those things, and is rather infamously devoted to the “eccentric clothing” part of it.) Being a Goth means that you have an appreciation for the beauty that can be found in darkness or decay; that you have a healthy sense of the absurd, an appreciation for whimsy, and are not afraid to be your own person. In the Lady of the Manners’ eyes, those seem like very good qualities for a parent to have, too.

Of course, becoming a parent does require some changes to your spooky lifestyle. Going out to Goth Night at the local club can’t be quite as spur-of-the-moment as it might have once been, with the arranging for babysitters and whatnot. Not to mention, as the Lady of the Manners has learned from friends who are parents, wrangling babybats is tiring, to put it mildly. Some days, finding the energy to do more than flop on the couch and stare into space is an insurmountable obstacle. Does that mean you need to wave goodbye to your social life? Don’t be silly. It just means that the focus of your social life will probably shift more to the “evenings at home with friends” side of things, with Going Out being something that is done less frequently.

Then there’s the question of wardrobe; excessive ruffles, frills, and opulent fabrics don’t mix well with day-to-day parental life. (The Lady of the Manners can see where PVC clothing would allow for ease of clean up with a lot of messes, but the Lady of the Manners is also fairly certain that most garments made from that fabric are not in ideal styles for most parents.) Does that mean you need to give up your wardrobe of gloom? Of course not. It just means that you will need to keep “is it washable?” firmly in mind while clothes shopping. (A Helpful Hint: almost all stretch velvet IS safe to throw in the washer and dryer, as long as you stick to lower-temperature settings. If the label says “poly/spandex”, you should be able to ignore that pesky “Dry Clean Only” tag.)

The Lady of the Manners is strongly in favor of Goths becoming parents. (After all, there’s a reason why there are Gothic Charm School baby clothes available.) In fact, the only concern the Lady of the Manners has about Goths being parents is that some may try a little too hard to turn their children into perfect little clones of Wednesday and Pugsley Addams. It’s all well and fine to dress them in clothes that say “Babybat” and give them fuzzy toy monsters to hug, but don’t feel betrayed if they like Disney cartoons and sports, too. Remember that children are separate people from you, with their own (frequently strongly-expressed) likes and dislikes.

Something that all Goth parents still need to watch out for is hostility and disapproval from other people. Sadly, there are many misguided people out there who think Goths are not fit to be parents. An opinion which the Lady of the Manners feels is utter nonsense, of course, but that doesn’t stop interfering busybodies from glaring accusingly (or worse!) at Goth parents. Ignore those types whenever possible (but ignore them with a polite smile!), and instead concentrate on raising your babybats to be happy, well-adjusted, and possibly spooky.

What about those of you, like the Lady of the Manners, who aren’t parents but whose friends are? Firstly, don’t assume that their having children means that they have lost all interest in anything but their children. Most parents are eager for (if not desperately craving!) conversation with people about something other than their children. Just be aware that no matter how involving or fascinating that conversation may be, it will get interrupted at times by the necessities of child-rearing. That’s just how things are, and getting annoyed or frustrated with your friends or the children is ridiculous. If you are one of those people who just. Doesn’t. Like. Children (and there’s no shame in admitting so), then you need to accept that you probably won’t see your friends as often as you once might have. Just be honest with yourself AND your friends about your feelings, and try not to be antagonistic about the subject when it comes up. However, if you’re one of those people who does like children, then why not offer to babysit occasionally? Even the most devoted parents cherish a night away from their spooky bundles of joy, and would probably be delighted to give their babybats a chance to spend more time around their extended (Addams) family. If it does take a village to raise a child, there is nothing that says that the village can’t be decorated with a motif of friendly bats and crushed velvet.

With that, the Lady of the Manners is going to go look fondly at pictures of the Lady of the Manners’ fairy gothchildren (Hi Trip and Princess Tickybox!), and then get a head start on writing next month’s lesson, what with the Lady of the Manners knowing the topic for it and all. Of course, if you Snarklings don’t want to read about Goodbye Cruel Internets, or the Great Flounce-Off, then feel free to send the Lady of the Manners a letter suggesting something else to write about.

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