From "A Baby In The House", by Mary and Richard Gordon, 1966.
REPRODUCTION, despite such modern distractions as betting-shops, the Costa Brava, and the risk of nuclear incineration, remains unquenchably popular with the British public. In fact, they can hardly wait to get at it. Thirty years ago most girls were deaf to the sound of wedding-bells before coming of age. Today the joyous clangour is heard under twenty-one by a third of brides each Saturday afternoon.
Only a few gay youthful years elapse between a girl’s freedom to risk the life and health of fellow-citizens in general behind the wheel of a car, and her freedom to risk the life and health of one in particular behind a pram. She does not expect, in the present state of evolution, to be born with the natural instinct for driving. She is bitterly disappointed to find, in the present state of evolution, she is not even born with the natural instinct for child-rearing.
Nobody, not even a freshly qualified doctor, manages to combine pride with blue fright like a new mother. Hence many kindly and articulate paediatricians have written books simplifying the mysteries of motherhood. So many that the weight of reading-matter facing the pregnant woman is now considerably heavier than the baby.
All these books are futile.
Firstly, they are never there when you want them. Clearly, you cannot put down your baby to find your
Worse still, the young mother ruffling among the print finds herself faced with such unimagined but apparently rampant problems as dirt-eating, aggressiveness, lead poisoning, strabismus, objects up the nose, castration anxiety, rat-bites, ruptures, convulsions, and precocious sexuality.
How, she asks herself, tossing the
(1) Whatever you do is probably wrong.
(2) Generally, it doesn’t matter much anyway.
This should instantly give a feeling of relaxation, so you will muddle along with a happy-go-lucky mixture of trial-and-error, rule-of-thumb, wait-and-see, and all’s-well-that-ends-well, never once risking losing your patience, temper, head, sense of humour, figure, or husband.
With luck, you may make as good a job of it as your great-grandmother did."