From Here to Maternity: The Education of a Rookie Mom, By Beth Teitell, Broadway, 208 pp, $19.95
I want to go on a play date with Beth Teitell, the mother-tell-all who'll confess that she was once so lost for lullabies that she sang her baby to sleep with ''The Brady Bunch" theme song. In an age of anxious parenting, the first-time author steps in as the kind of outspoken friend every insecure new mother could use: self-effacing yet self-confident and refreshingly casual about her kids.
Oh, the kids. I guess they can come on our play date, too.
Teitell perfectly captures the self-involvement of the modern mother in her book, ''From Here to Maternity: The Education of a Rookie Mom." Faced with unrelenting pressure to do every ''right" thing for her kids, Teitell joins the popular wave of rebellious mothers with pens who have been encouraging parents to do what's right for them.
Teitell, who became a mother of two sons in a dizzying span of a few years, still can't quite grasp how she got here. She has a dual identity; she's also a lifestyle columnist for the Boston Herald. And she warns her infant son that only her version of events is likely to be published anytime soon. Even her fantasy of putting her baby's stroller on the treadmill to prolong his nap is spoiled by self-centered paranoia; she's less worried about harming her baby than about how she'll look getting hauled into court on child-endangerment charges.
She imagines getting perp-walked into court with a ''baby blanket over my head and mashed banana on my shoulder, a gaggle of well-groomed reporters goading me. 'Hey, Treadmill Mom, is it true you haven't blow-dried your hair in four days?' 'Treadmill Mom, when was the last time you read The New Yorker?' "
Like the best of the ''mommy lit" writers, Teitell sprinkles her book with cheeky admissions of her own foibles. She divulges that she routinely plunks her sons in front of the TV -- dubbed ''Mother's little helper" -- and snarks that she's starting them down ''a life of obesity simply because their mother wanted to brush her teeth and blow-dry her hair."
Still, Teitell can obsess with the best of them. She admits to grilling other mothers about the ages of kids who seem more advanced than hers, the way she used to scan the ages of Pulitzer Prize winners to gauge her envy.
And her entire first chapter is consumed with finding the perfect stroller; she covets the $300 Maclaren, ''the Tiffany engagement ring of the stroller world."
Teitell is overly preoccupied with high-end merchandise, but that makes her an ideal spokeswoman for the competitive-urban-mommy set, already fretting about whether their babies are keeping up with the Joneses.
In Teitell's world, it's far more fun to obsess about what you're wearing than how you're parenting -- and everybody will do the latter for you anyway. ''Did someone slap a 1-800-HOW'S MY MOTHERING? bumper sticker on my
This is just the kind of comfort food that most mothers crave. Like the snacks that Teitell can't help stealing from her toddlers, her book is a harmless confection that's too tempting to put down.