Immediately after Vivian was born, her fairy godmother gave us a book entitled The Poo Bomb: True Tales of Parental Terror by Jeff Vogel. As of this minute, Vivian is 83 days, 5 hours and 58 minutes old and has followed this book nearly to the letter. I recommend this book to anyone who is having or is going to have a child (especially a girl-child). It is brutally honest about the experience and completely hilarious. I stopped reading the ol' "What to Expect..." book as soon as I realized that The Poo Bomb was more accurate and reassuring. So-called "parenting books" make you feel as though everything you are doing for your kid is simply not enough for her to grow up to be anything less than a codependent, pacifier-addicted basket case. The Poo Bomb reminds us that most of the issues we have with our parents really started waaaaay after we learned to walk, talk, and use the bathroom. That's right. Vivian can't remember how to get her hand to into her mouth from one minute to the next, so she's not going to be psychologically scarred if I recoil in terror when she attempts to soak me in urine (as she does from time to time).
Now and then I get stressed out trying to keep Vivian from screaming at the top of her lungs. Unfortunately, this is how I spend most of my waking hours. Michelle needs it relatively quiet in order to study for the Bar Exam and a screaming baby is the opposite of quiet. In fact, I believe there is some kind of biological imperative built into female endocrine systems that prevents Michelle from doing anything while Vivian is screaming. So, when Vivian is fussy, I am simultaneously trying to calm her down and provide Michelle the space she needs to pass the Bar and thereby secure the financial future of this little family. (I do what I can, but teaching SAT courses part-time won't pay even half a month's rent.) Like I said - Iget stressed trying to keep the baby quiet.
I'm sure Vivian picks up on my stress. She's probably a latent telepath and can read my very soul while she's screaming at the top of her lungs. (Telepaths hear with their brains, not their ears, so they can scream and hear your thoughts at the same time.) I hope and pray that the fact that my face is contorted into a gruesome zombie-like scowl while I try to rock her to sleep doesn't mean she's going to grow up to be some sort of over-stressed neurotic nutjob. Jeff Vogel's honest appraisal of the mental capasities of a three-month-old gives me hope and actually calms me down. If she cries, it doesn't mean I'm a bad parent or doing anything wrong. At this point in her life there's not much to mess up as long as she is clean, fed and burped.
Don't get me wrong, What to Expect... is a great resource, but don't go to it to unless you have a very specific question and want to feel like and incompetent loser parent when they tell you you're doing it all wrong. Read The Poo Bomb first. Jeff Vogel's healthy skepticism towards parenting books helps to keep it all in perspective and reassures me that, as badly as I think I'm doing as a parent, someone else did it worse.