Two weeks after my son was born the crying began.
He woke every twenty minutes during naps and nighttime and we’d nurse back to sleep again and again until sunrise.
Often he would not latch on, so instead of nursing him to sleep I would stand in the darkness with him cradled in my arms, doing deep knee bends to quiet his tears.
I ached for sleep.
I ached for silence.
I ached for ease and grace.
And each night would finally end with the sun, and I would wake one last time to his sharp cries and we would rise and begin our day.
I won’t pretend it was easy. It wasn’t. It was harder than anything I had ever done.
I remember standing in my living room one morning with tears streaming down my cheeks as I wept along with my son. I was counting the hours until my husband would be home.
Eight more hours. Eight more hours alone, with a crying baby in my arms.
I wasn’t sure I would survive.
And then a stranger asked me if my son was a “good baby.”
And I felt ashamed and angry and exhausted and defensive all at once.
Is he a good baby?
What did she mean by “good baby”?
If you are asking me if he is quiet and goes to sleep when I lay him in our bed, then no he is not a “good” baby.
If you are asking me if he coos and babbles and soothes himself when out of my arms, then no. He is not a “good” baby.
If you are asking me if he is easy to be with and makes my heart glad when I see his eyes open each morning, then honestly no, he is not a “good” baby. (Or, perhaps, I am not a “good” mother.)
The question shook me.
And then I shook it off.
Because her question was flawed from the start. She meant to ask me if he was an easy baby.
Because it’s a simple mistake to confuse easy with good.
Is he an easy baby? No. He is not.
But is he a good baby? Yes.
He is a baby. And therefore he is good.
(In reality I would take this premise one step further and say that we are all inherently good, but that’s a wormhole to go down another day.)
Because this child — this colicky, sensitive, high-needs child — pushed me to become a better mother than I ever imagined.
He turned my entire life on its head and give my existence more meaning and purpose than I ever dreamed.
He taught me how to be a mother and honor my own truth.
He taught me how to listen, how to be quiet and gentle and to hear what he said without words.
He taught me to find to my inner voice. To trust. To be brave.
He taught me to love without restraint.
He taught me to forgive and move on.
And he taught me how to be present and take this life one day, one night-waking, or one breath at a time.
Was he a good baby?
Oh, my. Yes. In more ways than I can begin to count.
And one more thing. (For you mamas with good babies who aren’t easy babies.)
Know this: You will sleep again. You will shower again. You will eat sitting down again. You will find yourself again.
My son turns eleven this month.
He is sensitive. Funny. Wise beyond his years. He is intuitive. True to himself. A bright shining star.
As your little one grows — however fussily in your arms — their light, too, will shine brighter and brighter with each passing day.
About Rachel Wolf
Rachel Wolf woke up recently and realized that she’s living the life she has always wanted.
Her days are spent with and two spunky unschoolers, running LuSa Organics (her small business), and hanging the laundry out on the line.
Rachel writes about her homeschooling, homemaking, and non-violent parenting path on her blog Clean.