Written by star bloggers Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy, Let’s Panic About Babies! is the hilarious new guide to surviving pregnancy and motherhood. Told with an off-with-the-kid-gloves candor (consider the subtitle: How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being), the book is a refreshing antidote to so much of the earnest pregnancy and motherhood lit that’s out there. The following is an excerpt:
Guess what? The real challenge of parenting comes when you take your baby outside. Because outside is where the Other People are. The people who want to tell you how you’re ruining your baby or otherwise not performing up to par, motherhood-wise. Weeks of enduring the baby not-sleeping and not not-crying will seem like a day at a spa compared to the moment when some wizened stranger pokes you with her osteoporotic finger and proclaims that your baby will die without a hat because you are subjecting her to below-60-degree weather.
KA-POW! That’s us dropping a Knowledge Bomb(tm) on you.
It never fails. Just as you’re coming to terms with the drudgery and unending struggle of sharing your life with a baby, and you’re feeling up to a stroll to the local café or a quick supermarket jaunt, that’s when they hurl themselves at your face—the family, friends, and passersby who believe they’re uniquely qualified to tell you that your parenting skills are mediocre at best.
So how do you deal with them? How to do you survive your forays into the outside world with your self-esteem mostly intact? It may be true that violence, revenge, and sassy back-talk never solved anything, but don’t let that stop you!
Area of expertise: Children, ages 0-35
Typical comment: “Good Morning America did a fascinating segment on the myth of postpartum depression.”
Reason for judging you: Refusing drugs during labor; breastfeeding without an appropriate amount of shame; not dressing your baby in the cute little top hat and tails she bought for him
Her all-purpose defense: “I’m just saying what everyone else is too afraid to say because they think you’re crazy.”
How to silence her: Hand her the baby and run
Is she right?: Well, you do look pretty crazy.
Crazy Old Lady on the Street
Areas of expertise: The effects of laudanum on breastmilk; the importance of woolen mittens in warding off scrofula
Typical comment: “What in Sam Hades d’you think you’re up to, missy?”
Reason for judging you: Exposing your child to the dangerous effects of outside air
Her all-purpose defense: “I had 7 children, and 3 of them made it to adulthood!”
How to silence her: Invite her to an ether frolic. While she considers it, punch her in her one good ear
Is she right?: Despite her assertions, walking on pavement will not give your baby “the ague.”
That Woman You Used to See at the Gym
Areas of expertise: Knowing what kind of plastic surgery you should have
Typical comment: “When are you going to have that baby?… Oh.”
Reason for judging you: Not attending her 5 a.m. Baby and Me Boot Camp class
Her all-purpose defense: “Listen, don’t get mad at me—get mad at the Mommy Fitness magazine I was reading on the treadmill.”
How to silence her: Karate chop to the throat
Is she right?: Of course not. Hey, see below for our exercise and diet tips!
Single Guy in Your Building
Area of expertise: Stuff he learned from when his older sister had a baby
Typical comment: “My sister Leona said that rocking the baby like that can jiggle his brains too much.”
Reason for judging you: You’re doing things differently from what he saw during his two-week visit to Rochester
His all-purpose defense: “I’m just telling you what Leona said!”
How to stop him: Spork in the head
Is he right?: It’s not important. Spork him, quick!
Areas of expertise: The ineffectiveness of your Kegel flexes; the multiple restorative effects of elderflower extract
Typical comment: “My Goddess, don’t tell me you’ve stopped nursing!”
Reason for judging you: Confessing to mild feelings of ambivalence surrounding your baby
His/her all-purpose defense: “If you’d listened to me about the blackstrap molasses, you’d be feeling much better right now.”
How to silence him/her: Sing a Joni Mitchell song off-key until she’s forced to leave the room, weeping
Is he/she right?: Impossible to say—no one has ever ingested blackstrap molasses and lived to tell of it.
The Lady Who Always Seems to Show Up When the Sun is in Your Baby’s Eyes
Areas of expertise: Angle of the sun as it pertains to your baby’s eyes
Typical comment: “The sun is in your baby’s eyes!”
Reason for judging you: You’re not appropriately shielding your baby from the effects of sunlight
Her all-purpose defense: “I just thought maybe you didn’t want to blind your baby.”
How to silence her: You cannot. Even if you strike her down she will rise again and again.
Is she right?: No. It is nighttime. She is insane.
The Grocery Store Cashier
Areas of expertise: Infant behavior and psychology
Typical comment: “That baby’s crying ‘cause it’s hungry.”
Reason for judging you: You won’t let her feed your baby a box of Jujubes
Her all-purpose defense: “I raised my ten brothers and sisters after Mama ran off in ‘67.”
How to silence her: Pay for your groceries with a tote bag full of loose change
Is she right?: Of course. Jujubes are packed with Vitamin J.
Photo Charles Gullung