When you have a baby, you are asked something time and time again. This is a question that follows you everywhere and is asked by every person you meet from now on. This question consists of three little words which fill me with dread: “Is she good?”
This is a question about the baby, you understand, not your mum or indeed any other female you may know. (It works for boys too, although in their case, substitute “she” for “he”. Obviously.)
Now, no one told me about this when I was pregnant. It appears this is a secret question that new mums have been asked for centuries. It is simply assumed you will be prepared and will give the correct answer.
So, imagine my confusion when I was asked this very same question just two days after giving birth…
Visitor who came to cuddle my newborn: “Is she good?”
Me (blank confusion all over my face): “Errr….yes?”
Visitor who came to cuddle my newborn: “Good. Yes. She looks like a good baby.”
Me (relief at getting the answer right): “Mmmm, yes, she is. Very good.”
Now, is it just me, or is this a very odd question to ask of a little baby? How can a baby be “good”? I mean, surely no new mum is going to say “No actually, my baby is bad. Very bad indeed”?
I just don’t get it.
I would understand if the question was “Is she a good sleeper?”, or “Is she a good feeder?”. But no, it is simply “is she good?”. If a baby struggles with wind, or colic or hasn’t got the hang of breastfeeding, does this mean they are “bad”? And, if so, does this in turn mean the mum is “bad”? The question implies that a baby who doesn’t cry or who sleeps through the night is well behaved, while one who does cry and who doesn’t sleep through the night is somehow naughty.
It’s a load of old rubbish, if you ask me.
Babies cry. Babies wake in the night. Babies get wind. That is what they do. And if your baby doesn’t do any of the above, then good for you. You got lucky. It doesn’t mean they are any more “good” than the next baby. It just means they are more convenient to look after.
So, I think we should replace the old secret question with a new one: “Is she convenient?”. And my answer to this one? No, she isn’t. Not at all.