Monday, 27 February 2012

Good Babies

“So, is he a good baby?” My son is six months old and I have been asked this question approximately 1783 times (you know, give or take). Although it is seemingly a rhetorical question the asker will still stare at you until you offer a response. The only acceptable answer is yes followed by a smile that conveys love and fulfillment. Saying no isn’t really an option. Unless you want to look like a miserable mother who hates her child. Could you imagine the look on that little-old-lady-at-the-mall’s face if you answered “No. He cries incessantly, sleeps sporadically, and when he’s not biting me he’s puking on me”?

This Christmas Mac shared the new-baby spotlight with his little cousin Reid. While we had to stand and bounce to keep Mac happy, because apparently altitude matters, sweet little Reid was content to chill out in his swing just inches off the floor.


While Mac was voicing his displeasure at the temperature/the level of the voices in the room/the colour of paint on the wall by crying at the top of his lungs, little Reid let his parents know he was unhappy by quietly emitting an adorable billy goat sound.


Reid napped in his swing during Christmas dinner, only needing his mother to attend to him for a few brief moments. By comparison the only way I could convince Mac to take a nap was by carrying him in the Ergo so I spent Christmas dinner photographing my family instead of eating with them.

Reid and Mac both napping during dinner
Not eating meant that I got great pictures like this one of my grandmother and wife


And my family is thankful that I got so many great shots of them shoveling food into their mouths while wearing silly hats. Obviously.

All week people commented on what a “good baby” Reid was. After hearing it for the millionth (OK, more likely the tenth) time I finally corrected the person speaking. He is an easy baby. Mac is not a bad baby. He is just more difficult.

The truth is that babies are neither good nor bad. Or rather, each one is good simply by virtue of being a baby. So perhaps I shouldn’t have corrected my mother/father/aunt/uncle/cousin/brother when they referred to Reid as good. Because of course he is. He is sweet and charming and irresistible. And so is Mac. He is good at screaming really loudly. He is good at kicking really hard. He is good at making the top of his head smell better than warm baked cookies. He is good at playing with toys and snuggling and laughing when raspberries are blown on his belly. And he is really good at capturing our hearts.


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35 comments:

  1. Great as always, and so true. I do have a comment another side of the story about saying "No" to those Yes questions. DD was the sweetest little girl, she never fussed, never cried, was happy to be alone. So when people asked if she was good, of course she was! My dreadful Yes question was: "Don't you love being a mom!" Or "how are you doing?" Because people only want to hear Yes and Great. However, I had postpartum depression and my answers were I hate it and Awful. I never told anyone my feelings because no one wants to really hear the truth.
    Good for you Kristen for letting people know that Mac is a good baby, in his own way.

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  2. Thanks for being brave enough to share that Emilie. You make such a good point. Those kind of "pleasantries" can seem entirely harmless but can really end up isolating people who are struggling.

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    1. This comment just keeps sinking in more as I think about it Emilie. I am going to be much more conscious of how I talk to new mothers about their experience of motherhood. Thank-you for that.

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  3. The power of words never ceases to amaze me. I'm definitely guilty of asking this question and appreciate the wake up call to the word choice. :)

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    1. They are so powerful aren't they? I guess my reaction comes from a place of defensiveness about my child. But I really do think he's good. Although perhaps not quiet. But I never thought quiet meant good anyway.

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    2. Hah - if quiet = good, then I = damn near evil ;)

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  4. Totally! Carl is a friendly baby and smiles and "talks" to strangers. I hate it when people tell me, "Oh, he's being so good!" He's not being "good", he's talking to you, asshole. I think it but I don't say it. :)

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  5. Absolutely! Excellent post. :)

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  6. I am guilty of asking that question too! I shouldn't because he's great, good, and bad sometimes. Who's not? I certainly am not good all of the time. Plus babies change all of the time too. Anyways, glad Mac is really good at capturing your heart. That's the most important and best!

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  7. "Is he a good baby?"
    "No he's almost satan. Here - take him for a sec, I'm going to do a quick lap thru the men's department at Bloomingdales. Be back in 20."
    Appropriate response, no? I have such trouble with diplomacy.
    K

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    1. ha! that literally made me laugh out loud.

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    2. Lol..me too!
      Great post Kris...love it :)

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  8. Same here as Emilie... I hated my first mat leave. My baby was hyper-sensitive and very difficult to understand. I never knew when she was crying for food or for sleep, etc... I felt very inadequate and did not like the experience. I wanted to tell people that she was very difficult and not a good baby. People took "evil" pleasure at judging me as I had a difficult time with my difficult baby. I'm very vocal about post-partum depression now and support every woman I can with difficulties after pregnancies. After 8 years of retrospection, I can laugh about it now but still break my heart knowing that I had mixed feeling about having her. Today, I am the very proud mother of an extraordinary bright girl. I love her and I'm so happy that she is part of my life. She gives me challenges every day and keep me on my toes. She was an old soul in a baby's body and did not like it.
    Thanks Kris for your weekly posts. I always look forward to reading them, Hug to you and Tracy and the cutest little boy Mac.

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    1. Thank-you so much for sharing that Mia. It's such a good reminder about how the words we say can affect other people. We never know what other people are struggling with. I will keep that reminder with me.

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  9. I think that we have one of those type of babies too. When he's happy and content, he is great. When he's crabby or teething, or sleepy... it's another story. Funny how people want to put babies into these categories!

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    1. Mac is grouchiest when he's sleepy. Or if you look at him funny. Or he doesn't like your shirt. I don't really know. Glad to not be alone though!

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  10. Hey Kristin, I just tagged you in my 11 things post. Feel free to participate or not : )

    www.breezysimply.blogspot.com

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  11. I’m Katie Morris, the Blogger Coordinator for Stage of Life LLC. I’ve been researching active mom bloggers and came across your site.
    The reason I’m reaching out is that my client, Audience Rewards - the Official Rewards Program of Broadway, would like to work with you on an outreach campaign to encourage more families to experience live theater. We're calling it “Audience Rewards Insider.”

    I would love to set up a conference call to discuss possible partnership.

    I’m happy to answer any questions; I look forward to hearing from you!

    Katie

    P.S. By the way, you might be interested in our national writing project with StageofLife.com as well. I’d love to answer any questions you might have concerning Audience Rewards or Stage of Life.

    Katie Morris
    Partnership Marketing Coordinator
    Stage of Life LLC
    Client: AudienceRewards
    Client Services: www.stageoflife.com/corporate
    B2C Global Project: www.stageoflife.com
    katie.morris@stageoflife.com
    My Blog: http://www.abloggersconnection.blogspot.com/
    (717) 881-3614
    Fax (717) 650-3855

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    1. Thanks for your message. I will contact you.

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  12. I love love love this post! I am really sick of the questions and assumtions people make/have. My baby spits up, but the people around me call it puking or throwing up! It is infuriating to me as those terms mean "sick".
    Thanks for following my blog too!! Our kiddos are the same age and just 4.5 hours away from each other. Mac is adorable!!

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  13. "is he a good baby?" is a truly ridiculous question. When they would ask that of my daughter, I would say, "she's spirited" with a laugh. I know most people have no clue what they are asking and just want to exchange pleasantries (key word - pleasant). I will often ask new mom's, "is he/she sleeping for you?" followed with "If so, I am jealous!" :-) Oh, yes, Mac is adorable, btw, and clearly will be brilliant! Love your blog.

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  14. Oh I've gotten this question a million times in the past 8 months. I totally get what you're saying here. It's a silly question and there's really no point in asking it.

    But it's one of those situations in which I've sort of started feeling bad for the person who asks. Since having my baby, I've had awkward encounters with people who knew me before the baby and aren't that familiar with babies in general. They feel like they should make small talk and acknowledge the whole baby situation, but it seems they don't really know what to say or ask. And this is one of those questions that those types of people frequently ask me!

    By the way, my favorite part of your entire post was when you said that Mac is good "at making the top of his head smell better than warm baked cookies"! :)

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    1. thanks for your comment! It's such a common question. I guess I only really noticed it because EVERYONE was commenting on "the good baby" and he wasn't mine!

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  15. Hilarious. And very touching.

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  16. I would always say..."sure, when they're not being bad. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to rescue the pigeon they're about to sacrifice Ozzy-Ozbourne style." ;P

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    1. lol. And what kind of a response would you get?

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  17. Mujer- they're all good babies. Now, when they enter ::shudder:: puberty, all bets are off! ;)

    BB2U

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    1. ha! Well that's a long way away still :)

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