Mommy Talks Back

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The incessant-insect image crops up often in these modern mothering books. So does a loathing for most mothering manuals, especially that sturdy bible of baby raising What to Expect When You're Expecting (Workman). "There's probably sound advice there, but I came to despise it," says Halliday. The strict eating plan and unguent tone seem to be the focus of particular hatred. But What to Expect recently celebrated the sale of its 10 millionth copy, and it too has learned to evolve with the times, adapting its advice to the changing nature of parenting. The latest edition has more information on alternative medicine, working moms and nontraditional families, although the authors still seem to think it revolutionary that the woman on the cover is wearing pants.

Whether the irreverent-motherhood genre will take up permanent residence on the nursery shelf is unclear. But there are signs of a growing interest in the paradox inherent in one of life's most profound yet tedious and draining experiences. Slate.com has a brand- new column on the indignities endured by new parents. It's written by a man.

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