This Baby Shower Is a Wash
Dear Prudence advises a reader who thinks her brother impregnated his girlfriend to steal her own baby's thunder—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.
Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. Let's get to it.
Q. Baby Blues: My husband and I are expecting our first child in four months, and we're really excited. The problem? My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their second baby two months after us, and we're both really angry about it. I know I should be happy, but this particular brother has a history of constantly trying to one-up me and do things just because I'm doing them. I really think he planned this so that they could try to do a dual baby shower and cash in on our gifts (which would not be out of character). So, my question is twofold: How do I get over the anger about this and how do I politely tell my brother, since I know he will ask, that I do NOT want to do a dual baby shower?
A: It sounds as if you're getting well-prepared for dealing with a toddler. You and your husband are already having tantrums, refusing to share, and stomping your feet and screaming, "Me, me, me!" Your brother may be an attention-hogging jerk, but you're a petty, attention-hogging jerk yourself. You're angry because your brother's second child might impinge on your baby's hour in the spotlight! You and your husband are spending a lot of time stoking each other over what you've both concluded is the malign purpose behind your brother's reproductive choices! Wow and wow.
Since your brother and his girlfriend have a young child, it's assumed they already have the baby equipment needed and a second shower is not necessary. I don't know who's throwing your shower, but usually it's a friend, so all your friend has to do—if your brother tries to horn in—is to explain she's just doing a shower for you. But why don't you stop obsessing over a so far nonexistent problem, and start trying to open your heart to your new niece or nephew.
Dear Prudence: Fear of Heights
Q. Cat Person With a Dog: About a month ago, I adopted a dog from the local shelter. I have always loved animals and it seemed like a good time for me. I did months of research, read Cesar Milan, looked at dozens of dogs, etc., before finding one I wanted to bring home. Well, now that she is here, I don't like her. More accurately, I don't like having a dog. She is sweet, smart, and well-suited to my living situation, and yet I still have a hard time getting enjoyment out of the situation. I take her for long walks, play with her, and train her, but I do it all out of necessity and not out of love. Her constant seeking of approval and attention bothers me. I do not look forward to coming home to her. Even though I thought I was prepared, she demands even more time than I expected. I don't know what to do—I truly feel that both she and I would be happier if she were in a different home, but I hate to be a person who backs out of a commitment I made, especially when there is a life involved! I feel like a terrible person. As a former reluctant dog owner, do you have any advice?
A: After a month many people might be tempted to say, "Gee, this baby is a lot more work than I thought. I need some time to chill and watch TV, and she's just crying, and pooping, and demanding food 24/7. I should have gotten a cat!" Many animal rescue agencies advise people that it could be many months before the pet owner and the pet settle into a routine. Your dog sounds pretty wonderful, and if I didn't already have a full house (I now have two dogs and two cats) I'd be tempted to take her. This poor creature just got out of a shelter, so of course she needs attention and reassurance from you. I hope you have a dog walker come for her during the day, so that she has attention and exercise. If she's cooped up alone all day, that might just add to her nighttime neediness.
You don't have to love her now, you just have to take care of her. I'm sure that as you settle in with her, you will start to appreciate what a little gem of a dog you chose. I bet in six months you will write to me and say, "Guess what, at the end of the day, I can't wait to get home and see Fifi." But if your resentment only grows, then do this pup a favor and let the shelter know how great she is but that being a dog owner is not for you. If this dog is everything you say, she should find a new home, pronto.
Q. Simple: I'm in my early 20s, recently married, and in love with my husband. I know this is one of the most simple questions but: What do I do about this feeling I have been getting lately that I want to sleep with every man I meet?! I just can't stop thinking about sex! It's driving me nuts! And I'm afraid it might affect my relationship with my husband.
A: The fact that you're overwhelmingly horny is good for your marriage. You go through the day getting aroused, then you get home and jump your husband. What a pleasant surprise for him. Please don't tell him that while you're ripping off his clothes, you're thinking about the UPS guy with the great biceps or your boss. Let your free-floating desire affect your relationship with your husband in a mutually gratifying way.
Q. Ignore Innuendos?: My daughter and her boyfriend (mid-20s) recently invited us (parents, siblings, and significant others) to dinner at their home to celebrate a special occasion. Much thought was put into the meal and it was lovely. Throughout the evening, her boyfriend created any number of awkward moments by popping in to every conversation with some sexual innuendo. While mostly of the "that's not what you said last night" variety, one comment was enough to silence everyone for several seconds. Beyond the weirdness of constantly bringing up oral sex in front of his girlfriend's parents, it was just rude to disrupt people trying to talk. This probably happened 25 times during our time there. Our daughter was kicking him under the table, giving him the eye, etc., to no avail. My husband and I are trying to be careful not to do anything that will make our daughter defensive and drive her away. I generally try to ignore his behavior, but I was really uncomfortable by the end of the evening. Any ideas how to handle this—a mantra to keep reciting to myself when he goes off like this?
A: You seem to indicate it's "normal" for your daughter's boyfriend to turn innocent comments during the meal into lip-smacking, eye-rolling references to other delicious activities he likes to indulge in. He's obviously got a head full of loose screws, but what's wrong with your daughter that she would be with such a specimen? You say you don't want to drive her away, so obviously you have brought this up before. But if the dinner is as weird as you say, you might want to take your daughter out to lunch and gently say that her boyfriend's behavior seems to be escalating and you're concerned about their relationship.
Otherwise, the best thing for you to do in the future is to act as if you don't understand what he's saying. Underplaying your response might help your daughter see the dreadfulness of the situation she's in.
Q. Mother-in-Law and Baby Shower: My husband and I are adopting an infant domestically. Because of the uncertainty of some things, my husband and I are opting not to do a baby shower (we don't really like them anyways—mooching is not our thing) but rather a "meet the new member of the family" get-together after the baby is home. My mother-in-law wants to throw a shower for us with her co-workers. This will be with just her co-workers (whom we are not close or friendly with) and none of our friends or family. We have politely declined twice now, and she's still insisting. She did the same thing with my wedding, throwing me a shower (even though I didn't want one—I'm terribly shy and hate being the center of attention) with her co-workers and none of my friends or family. It was horrible. My friends were considerate enough to just take me out for dinner and drinks. This is causing me a considerable amount of stress and we don't even have our baby yet! She seems to be making this all about her (again). Is there a way to get her to realize how inappropriate this is without being mean?