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Marisa Mackle: Keep one step ahead of those interferers

It's easy to feel like a useless mother. Everyone tells you that you're doing everything wrong. Other sprogs can do all sorts of things as yours stares lazily at you from his cot with seemingly no intention of catching up with the rest of the human race.

If you're doing a good job at work, someone may give you a nod of approval. No such treats for mum.

There's always, of course, a well-meaning person to point out your inadequacies. My mum used to think Gary couldn't see or hear when he was a baby and had me worried senseless. Then when he wasn't crawling, she was convinced there was something else wrong.

Eventually, I had to tell her to stop interfering. She did for a bit but then recently she expressed concern that Gary still isn't walking. What am I feeding him? Is he getting enough broccoli? Honestly ...

From the time baba is born, it feels like you're under siege, bombarded by questions. Can he sit up by himself? Is he smiling? Has he been christened? Is he enrolled at school yet? All the time you grin through gritted teeth and pretend it's all marvellous.

You're back in the gym doing press-ups in the mornings, baking buns in the afternoon, entertaining al fresco in the evenings -- and as for baby? Well he's just a genius. He's already playing tennis, reading the newspapers and writing screenplays.

Of course, there are tons of parenting websites offering advice. But sometimes they are so overwhelming, with every online poster seeming to manage parenthood a hell of a lot better than you. Sometimes, it's unwise to socialise with strangers online anyway. Aren't you better off playing with your real-life baby than chatting to cyberspace mums who are called silly things like Hotmama and Bootycutie?

So when I heard that Pampers had come up with a new website offering advice, I wondered if I really needed any more proof that I'm not doing things perfectly. The launch was last week and I went along with Gary. When it came to question time, I raised my hand and said: "My son isn't walking at 17 months."

As one parenting expert started earnestly reassuring me, suddenly Gary walked over to a table with Danish pastries and started helping himself. Everyone, including me, looked on in amazement. He certainly knew when to pick his moment.