Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. ( Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie's Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. Meteorologists, tell me August will not be as knee-bucklingly awful as July.
Q. Regretting Adoption: I was told as a teenager that I could never carry a baby to term, so my husband and I immediately started the process of adoption as soon as we married. After many years of waiting, we adopted a beautiful little 5 month old. I love her and would die for her if need be, but I find myself unexpectedly hating parenthood three months on. My daughter, bless her, wakes up every two-three hours every day. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has helped her to sleep. I terribly miss my old life and feel anxious about going out in case she gets unsettled (which she often does). My husband and I have no quality time together and we've bickered a lot because I am always snappy and stressed out. I find myself resentful of her sometimes and then feeling horribly guilty for feeling resentful. Is there any advice you have for me, mother to mother?
A: When my daughter was the same age as yours she had horrendous colic. I remember one night rocking her while she screamed and thinking I should sing a lullaby. But deciding the lyrics, "F—k you, my darling baby," were not a good idea. What an idiot I was. If only I'd come up with a complete lullaby and committed it to paper, I could have been the first with a best-seller about how frustrated parents really feel.
It's hard to believe now—I didn't believe it at the time—but your baby will outgrow this stage. Unbelievably fast, your baby will outgrow every stage, because right now I'm awaiting my teenager daughter's return after a month away at a Spanish immersion program.
But for now, get help! Get a babysitter or a family member to watch her during the day so you can nap, go to the gym, read a book. Make some time for you and your husband. That doesn't have to be a fancy meal out. Get someone to watch your baby while you two go for breakfast on Sunday morning to a diner where you can chat and read the papers. Join a mother's group to get tips and support from others in the same boat. Keep a journal. Because faster than you know it, this squalling infant will be toddling around saying, "Mama!" and you will laugh to read how you thought you'd never sleep through the night again.
Q. Friend Dating a Married Man: My friend "Alana" recently started "seriously dating" a guy who turns out to be married and still living with his wife, who is undergoing cancer treatment. They've been together four long months and swear they're "in love." I am not too sure of the situation as to whether his wife knows, if he's told Alana he's divorcing, or what. Alana won't tell me, and I don't care to know. She started insisting that our group of friends invite him over for social functions as we do for any other friend's boy/girlfriends. One of our mutual friends is getting married in two weeks and Alana became upset that the bride and groom refused to add him as an extra guest, which is apparently "unfair" and "discriminatory." Another close friend within our social circle has been cheated on by her husband, so all we see when we see him is DIRTY CHEATING SCUM written on his forehead. What do we do with this situation without cutting off ties with Alana?
A: When sending out wedding invitations, it is rude to only invite one half of a married couple. So Alana should be relieved that her new boyfriend, and his wife, didn't get an invitation to the nuptials. What a prize Alana's boyfriend is. He must be quite a time-management specialist to be able to court a new woman while taking his wife to and from chemo treatments. I obviously don't know any of the parties involved, but I'm going to guess that Alana's boyfriend has not, in fact, informed his wife that to relieve his sadness at her diagnosis he's gotten himself a lover. Alana is an adult, and if she feels fine about seeing a married man who is cheating on a seriously ill wife, that's her decision. The rest of you, however, do not have to condone it. All of you can tell her that while you care for her very much, you are all deeply uncomfortable with the situation and do not care to get to know her married boyfriend. If that means she cuts off ties with her group, so be it. And if Alana has fantasies about the fairy tale ending that's coming when the mean old wife dies and she and her true love can be together, have her read some of the accounts of the recent life of John Edwards.
Q. Unhygienic Boss: I have a boss who has some very bad habits and I am not sure the appropriate way to approach him about it. I am the only one that works for him because it is a small business. He pays well and is actually very nice, but he has some gross habits that are getting to be a bit much. He clips his nails at his desk and sometimes they get scattered. He flosses his teeth at his desk. When he has a cold he doesn't cover his mouth and he won't blow his nose. I have now caught his cold. He hawks loogies into the bathroom sink. (It is a small office.) I am usually the only one privy to this but sometimes it happens in front of the client. For example they come across a fingernail clipping. How do I approach my boss in such a manner to nip this in the bud without losing my job. He pays great and pays for all the benefits for my husband and me, but I am getting really fed up.
A: I'm stunned he also doesn't belch, fart, hum loudly, and chew with his mouth open. At least let's give him credit for attending to his oral hygiene! I regularly hear from people who describe office mates—almost exclusively men—who clip their nails (sometimes even their toenails) in the office and seem to get pleasure out these projectiles pinging around like BB gun pellets. Sometimes I get lonely working at home, but at least I only have to deal with the cat's hairballs.
Discussing this with a co-worker would be one thing, but this is your very disgusting boss and you work in a small office and he's nice and pays well. So I am going to turn this over to the experts out there in officeland. Readers, any suggestions?
Q. Acceptable Behavior: I recently read, right here in the Washington Post, one of those love stories that appear next to the Wedding announcements that tell how couples meet. What caught my eye after the "Awww" moments was this line: "Although they had to fast track the wedding because she found out she was pregnant." I'm in my 50s, which might be old to some. I've been married 30 years and I am open minded. Does this generation now announce out of wedlock children along with their wedding? I just thought this was too much information. I know everyone lives together before marriage and often have their children before marriage, too, but I think they should draw the line at publicly announcing it. What do you think?
A: They were planning to get married, she found out she was pregnant, and they decided they really wanted to be married before the baby came. Hooray! Let's applaud this couple! Instead of focusing on the "perfect" wedding, which would mean the bride getting back in shape after the birth so she could wear an expensive dress, with their child attending the ceremony, they decided to stick with the more sensible order of baby following marriage. Since the baby is going to be born significantly less than nine months after the wedding, it's not any surprise that the bride was pregnant, nor is it a source of shame.