Last week I had an appointment out of the house. The receptionist greeted me in her usual cheery manner and inquired about Gus. “Is he still being a good boy?”
I don’t remember how I answered but I’m sure it was vague and mentioned something about sleep. I do know I wanted to be honest but also felt a need to protect my baby AND my abilities as a mother.
This question about a “good” baby has been on my mind all week. What makes a baby good? What does it mean? I know what people are getting at when they ask it- is the baby quiet? Calm? Does it sleep well?
What if the answer is “no”? A resounding, all caps and in bold, “NO”. What if the baby in question fusses and cries every moment it is awake? What if the baby will only be held a certain way and refuses to be put down. What then? Is it still a good baby?
Yes. Resounding, all caps and in bold, YES. Because a baby behaves like a baby. Are some babies more laid back and quiet? Sure. But this doesn’t make them good anymore than fussing makes them bad.
More importantly, a baby’s personality says even less about me as a mother. So why does the question cause my stomach to twist and my heart to race? This little one has been soaking up the sun and taking oxygen into its lungs for just weeks-if there ever was the definition of a “new guy,” he is it. You want to judge me for my teen/tween/toddler’s behavior? Go for it (Penny alone would earn me a D- currently). But my babe? Try again.
I’m pretty sure that back in the day grandmas and seasoned mothers would have pronounced Gus’s belly as sour. I wish I didn’t hesitate to say he’s colicky, but there it is. In fact, we’ve all been reluctant to address it even within our home, seemingly fearful if we call it out, it will solidify his character or announce our failure as parents and siblings. I brush it off and make excuses. What keeps me from saying, “I don’t know why he cries but he sure likes to do it”? Why does that seem like defeat?
If I wasn’t sleep deprived and my shirt wasn’t soaked with spit-up, perhaps I’d have a succinct way to wrap this up. Instead, I’m listening to tiny snores and taking peeks at fuzzy hair and a button nose and thinking how good this season is. How very, very good.