Why people need to stop asking me whether I have a ‘good baby’
Guaranteed, at least once a day someone will come up to me and ask me, “So is he a good baby?” I cannot tell you how sick of that question I am – not just because I get asked it so often, but because when you think about it, it is a completely ridiculous question.
What constitutes a good baby? And what, if you have an unsettled child who cries a lot they are to be considered a ‘bad baby’? I never know how to answer that question, what do these people want to hear? Of course I think my child is ‘good’, doesn’t everyone? I generally assume that the general nature of the question is leaning towards whether my child sleeps well or not. So, with that in mind I shrug my shoulders and generally answer, “Yeah, he is great.. only waking up once or twice during the night.”
For the last week or so, Hunter has been sleeping like an absolute champion. He goes down at about seven, will sleep through until two-thirty and have a feed and then sleep from three until six. It has been incredible.
But then last night happened.
Hunter slept all day yesterday – ALL day – before going down at six-thirty. He slept soundly while Pete and I were still awake but as soon as he and I hopped into bed, Hunter stirred and woke. And that was it. We were awake. Even after feeding Hunter, he lay in bed wide-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to start the day before the last one had even finished.
At three-thirty this morning, I gave up trying to coerce him to sleep and took Hunter out to the lounge room. At four-thirty, he and I fell asleep for twenty minutes. Huzzah.
The reason I am telling you all this is, just because Hunter didn’t sleep last night, doesn’t make him a bad baby. We had a tough night, sure, but he doesn’t know that. He did nothing wrong, he just wasn’t tired. When Pete was a baby he had colic until he was one. His mum told me that he had an underdeveloped bowel and with that came really bad reflux. Pete was in pain until he learned how to walk. Does that mean that Pete was a ‘bad’ baby? If anything, it would be the opposite! The poor thing was in pain for twelve months and still managed to learn and thrive and develop and grow into an even more beautiful boy. (Also Louise, you’re a champ.)
You get my point.
Stop asking me if Hunter is a good baby. In fact, stop asking any mother if their baby is good. Instead, try asking, “How are you?” Because the other thing that happens when people ask me if he is good or not, is I start to question myself as a mother. If he has had a restless night or he has been grumpy and then someone asks, “So, is he a good boy?” a million thoughts run through my head as to what constitutes good and whether or not I am ticking those boxes (but then I realise how ridiculous it all is and pour myself a bourbon).
Furthermore (yes, furthermore. I am really feeling the need for a good rant today – probably because of the not sleeping thing), if you have a child that is older than Hunter, please try and refrain from saying things like, “Oh, enjoy him while he is this age. Once they get to THIS age, they are a bloody nightmare!” Or, “I would have heaps of kids if they never grew up.” I hear these exact phrases and numerous variations of these each and every day.
You know what? It really upsets me.
I am all for sharing the experiences of motherhood and definitely feel like there should be a healthy dialogue about those really difficult and testing moments, but I don’t have time for outright negativity. Parenting is hard, and there are moments when I feel completely defeated and like I can’t go on, but I would never blame Hunter for that. He is just doing his thing, much like toddlers and teenagers and adult children are doing theirs. It also makes me sad because whatever child that the parent is referring to is generally within earshot, if not right next to them when hey are complaining and calling them nightmares and wishing that they weren’t exactly who they are.
On top of that, why are you projecting all of that onto me? So when Hunter is, say, three years old, what? He is going to become a terror and I am going to wish he was a baby again? I know that we haven’t got there yet and Hunter is only three-and-a-half months, but I know in my soul that I would never, ever say things like that about him, no matter what the age. Every single child is different and no two parenting experiences are the same, so why do so many mothers (because it mainly is the mothers) think they know what I am going to go through?
I don’t mean to sound judgmental and if that is how I am going across, I apologise. I am just speaking my truth, and whenever people say these things to me it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. And the interesting thing is that these two things are what people ask me the most. Why is that?
The (Oblivious) New Mama is all about sharing the experience of being a mother; it is about supporting mothers and fathers and partners and letting you know that it is totally okay to make mistakes, to forge your own parenting path and to say no to the status quo. Whether you have a baby that sleeps through the night, or one who is restless and unsettled and a very good crier, they are perfect. Can we try and work together to eradicate the idea of a good baby?