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Balmy Dearest : Anaheim Writer-Mother Finds Fertile Ground for P.M.S.

November 07, 1995|BRAD BONHALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ever walked into work wearing a diaper on your shoulder? The one you'd put there to catch whatever fell from your baby's mouth?

Or, after a harried morning before trotting the little darling off to day care, have you ever left your front door wide open all day?

Angela Waterman has. And she doubts she's alone in such lapses of concentration.

"Mommy brain"--that state of heebie-jeebies and befuddlement suffered by mothers of young children--is nearing epidemic proportions. Or so says Waterman, 38, an advertising-copywriter-turned-mother who lives in Anaheim.

But hold the Prozac. Mommy brain can be made tolerable, even humorous, she says, with P.M.S. Monthly.

The newsletter, that is, not the syndrome.

Last spring, Waterman formed P.M.S., the Psychotic Mothers Society, a tongue-in-cheek support group for those "whose sanity is on sabbatical but whose sense of humor is not."

Her six-page newsletter (it's quarterly) offers big helpings of irreverence on issues of interest to mothers. A sampling:

* On toilet training: "A tiny drop of Super Glue on the toilet seat will guarantee a clean carpet for up to two weeks."

* On husband-wife relations: "Women may suffer from PMS, but men are definitely the carriers."

* On women in the workplace: "Most employers expect you to keep your glass ceiling spotless."

* On getting the most from products: "The peel-and-stick Maxipads make great Barbie beds; they're just the right size, and they don't move around."

Forget the O.J. Simpson case--motherhood is the real trial of the century, says the invariably droll Waterman, who has daughters 6 and 4 years old. Talking to friends and neighbors about the pitfalls and pratfalls of motherhood gave her the idea for the newsletter.

"We all had the same complaints. We all were joking about how we never thought we'd be in this position: Have a child, lose your dignity," Waterman says from the onetime nursery that she uses as her publishing office at home.

"Then I just sat down, thinking about all the aggravations of being a mom, and the newsletter just came out of that. The first issue last spring wrote itself in two days. It was stored up in my head, waiting to come out."

Although the shortcomings of men often serve as grist for the P.M.S. mill, "male bashing is not my intention," says Waterman, who then slips immediately into stand-up comic mode: "But why do husbands seem to develop bad cases of night deafness when the baby needs attention at 3 a.m.?"

*

About 70 women scattered across the country are on her mailing list, and Waterman says husbands of subscribers are among her biggest fans. Waterman's own husband, Mark, provides input before Waterman begins her photocopying and mailing.

It was Mark who in the mid-1970s suggested she develop her writing skills. She studied biochemistry at UC Davis but saw no future in it and worked as an ad copywriter in Orange County for 15 years. She will teach a class in copy writing at Chapman University in the spring.

"I never suffer from writer's block; I have writer's diarrhea," Waterman says. But she complains good-naturedly that publication is delayed when her daughters (whom she really is fond of) hop into her lap at the PC and "help" her with the newsletter.

"I did my third issue during the summer, and the minute I got a thought in my head, it was derailed by somebody needing to go potty or wanting a drink of water. But on the day school started this year, I sponsored the first P.M.S. event: Mimosa for Mommies Day. I had 10 neighborhood women come over, and we celebrated the end of summer with champagne. Oh, did we celebrate!"

A product catalogue, $8 subscription promotions ("Give P.M.S. to a friend!"), essay contests and a Psychotic Mothers Weekend at a resort hotel are in the planning stages. She's setting up a P.M.S phone line, (714) 701-1745 and her first product will probably be a calendar, designed so that husbands and co-workers can know in advance when they should tread lightly around a Psychotic Mom.

*

Meanwhile, issue No. 4 is in the works.

The newsletter, Waterman says, is "a wonderful outlet for me. It's therapeutic; you feel good to put it down on paper and expose it all. You know, in your first writing class you're told to write what you know. Well, I know about the aggravation of being a mom, a wife, living a suburban life on a cul-de-sac. I know it, and it helps to laugh at it."

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