Between the time that Joshua exited newborn-hood and Clare entered our world, I had forgotten that folks seem to want to ask mothers of newborns all sorts of loaded questions. Many folks believe that that the number of hours per night a baby sleeps is ultimate barometer of competent parenting. They always ask, with an air of smugness, "So, is she sleeping through the night yet?" I find that this is frequently asked by older men, and I always wonder if they're remembering the many sleepless nights they had when their children were brand new, hoping that everyone else is subjected to the same torture that they once were.
And of course people ask all sorts of developmental questions. Does she sit up, roll over, count to ten, solve quadratic equations? Because, of course, those are all reflections on parenting skill, too.
But the question that kills me, gets me every time, is "Is she a good baby?"
Let's think about this. If she's not a good baby, then she must be, say it with me, a bad baby. And what kind of mother would ever claim that she has a bad baby? I know the question they really want answered is, "Is she an easy baby?" But to couch it in terms of "good" and "bad" makes me want to respond in a not-very-nice way.
I have had to hold my tongue on several occasions, because the answer I want to give is, "Well, we thought she was a good baby until we found the cigarettes and playing cards under her crib mattress last week. But now we know...she's a bad baby."
Of course she's a good baby. She's a baby! Even if she's fussy, high-maintenance, cranky, or even, God forbid, colicky, she's still a good baby!
Believe me, I know the question-askers are well-intentioned, and I try to remember that. But we have many, many years to put labels on our children that will either make their spirits soar or crush them. Let's just enjoy the simple purity of baby-ness while it lasts.