My baby will turn one in a couple months and I’m already getting questions about what I’m going to do for the big party. My mother is especially eager. It seems insane and a lot of work. But, I still feel like kind of a lame mom for not being excited about it. Must I rise to the occasion?

– Party Pooper

Dear Party Pooper,

As Sharon Osborne has doubtless thought on more than one evening, why throw a party for someone who will not understand or even remember it? Here are a few possible reasons: to celebrate your first anniversary as parents; to get some of those eternally postponed new parent play-dates knocked out in one shot; to enjoy a child’s birthday before the child begins to put in requests for foods, decorations and toys you find repugnant. If none of those ideas appeal, and entertaining seems like a pain, there’s really no reason to host (or feel bad about not hosting). If your mom is desperate for a photo op, invite her over and stick a candle in a cupcake, or a wheat-free dairy-free muffin if you’re allergy-anxious. If you decide that you’d rather celebrate with take-out and trash TV, or by doing nothing at all, then go for it. Your baby will be fine either way. And unless you plan to never acknowledge his birthday, the absence of any snapshots of a single-candle cake with a bunch of drooling wobbling “friends” around will not have any significance in years to come.

My wife is seven months pregnant and I recently went out, drank too much and made out with a coworker. I know it’s terrible, but my life is just shit lately. All my wife does is complain about how miserable she is and how much worse it’s going to be once the baby comes. We both want this baby (it’s our second), but I have no idea how we’re going to survive the strain. I’m not looking for absolution here; I know I’m an idiot. But seriously, what’s a guy to do?

– Flirting with Disaster

Dear Flirting with Disaster,

Having an affair may seem like an escape hatch, but once you leave the bubble of your fantasy romance (and you will), it will only add more burden to your already considerable load. If you think things are rough now, imagine how rough they’ll be when your put-upon wife grabs your powerbook at five a.m. to look up the dosage for infant Tylenol and finds a pervy little love missive from your coworker. You’re having a hard enough time with one kid and another on the way. Do you really think you can juggle a mistress, too?

If you seriously want your situation to improve, you’ll need to face the problem rather than try to find a way to pretend your life doesn’t suck. It sounds like you and your wife are actually on the same page here; you’re both scared shitless about what’s going to happen to you when you have this baby. So why not try to connect about it rather than seek solace in the arms of someone who has no clue? Maybe talking about it will relieve some of the stress for both of you. Should you bring up your indiscretion? It’s up to you, but most people would probably say no. Though your actions are not without their motives (hell, if your wife could lug her blooming ass onto a barstool and do something reckless, maybe she’d do it too), they may well feel inexcusable. Hearing that you stuck your tongue down another woman’s throat is not likely to do much for your wife’s state of mind. Telling her you’re worried – and hearing her “complaints” as cries for help instead of buzz-harshing, on the other hand, might be a good start.

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I am one of two new moms at my small company, and since I have a private office, I’ve been letting my coworker (let’s call her Nancy) pump there. As we are both breastfeeding, you can imagine the level of bonding that’s occurred between us. But I’m worried now that it’s affecting our work relationship. I’m Nancy’s boss. But because we are sisters-in-breasts, as it were, in sort of the same situation, I’m beginning to sense that Nancy thinks she can get away with a certain amount of slacking off. I’m not even sure she’s aware of it, but it’s starting to get on my nerves. How do I tell her I’m not going to cover for her without seeming like a tool of the patriarchy? -Booby Boss

Dear Booby Boss,

When someone doesn’t do her job, you end up having to work harder as a result. Nancy needs to pull her weight. And as her superior, it’s your job to make sure she does. The difference between corporate tool and sensitive mom-boss is in how you talk about it, and what you’re open to in terms of a fix. Tell her what you’re observing, and ask her what’s going on. Be sympathetic, but tell her you need her to do her job. Maybe she’ll hear you right away and just get cracking. But there may be specific reasons she’s not being as productive. Does she need to change her schedule? Is working at home ever a possibility? There are lots of ways to honor your new-mom empathy without lowering your expectations. But you’ll have to ask yourself: Is this something you’re willing or able to go to bat for in your work situation?

It might not feel that appealing when you’re doing a fine job of juggling home and work responsibilities yourself. But keep in mind that at some point you may find yourself needing a little flexibility yourself. You may discover that next year you’re a complete disaster – your kid is sick every two weeks at a new daycare; you’re suddenly prescribed bedrest for a new pregnancy; you come down with very late onset baby blues – and lo! Nancy’s finally got a grip. And she’s annoyed with you. And on time for meetings you’re late for. You may be grateful then for giving her a little leeway now.

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