Mother of Invention

DEAR EXENE: Something is missing in my life, and I have spent several years trying to figure it out. The biggest indicator to me is that three years ago, I had a hysterectomy at age 37 to remove more than 5 pounds of fibroid tumors and my uterus. I had about two weeks to decide if I ever wanted to have children or not. I chose not, so we went ahead with the surgery to remove everything. As a former teacher, I found that the job came with its own type of birth control. Several of my friends and family have wonderful children whom I enjoy, but I never felt that having children really inserted itself into my lifestyle of dating punk rockers, artists and musicians. But I can't get through the day without feeling completely unsatisfied. I just don't feel like I am on the path I should be on or even know what my purpose is. I still have all of this maternal "stuff" inside. The only time I feel accomplished is when I am making things such as dinner for my friends or working on a project or something with a result I can visually see. If I don't have something like this lined up, I sink into a worthless pile. Any brilliant ideas?

Love, Traci

DEAR TRACI: I wish we were all allowed and encouraged as babies and children to know ourselves and discover our innate talents. We would be a society of nurtured, creative individuals, each with a unique purpose. Instead, we have to spend endless time and energy questioning if we are doing anything right at all. "Am I supposed to have kids, or am I supposed to be an artist or carpenter or farmer or nurse, or am I supposed to exist at all, or what?" Many people feel as you do. Doesn't matter if they have kids or not. You are feeling empty, worthless kind of stuff. Your "lifestyle of dating punk rockers, artists and musicians" could be your problem. Major caveat: I married, dated, loved and hated lots of brilliant artist guys. It isn't that guy punk rockers and actors and painters are bad; it's that women will give up so much of their own artistic desires to support someone else's. If we spent all that work on our own artistic projects and businesses and desires and ideas, we'd be home free.


Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for adviceon your love life, politics, your musical career, filial relationshipssend an email to

There's an old saying: "Behind every successful man, there stands a woman." I always wondered if that means no man can be successful without a woman's help. Or that women are the real power. Anyway, I think it's supposed to be a compliment to women—you know, how important they are. So my advice to you is: Don't repress your talent and creativity, and focus on you, you, you.

Love, Exene


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