If someone asked how life was going would you tell them that your life is perfect? That you have the perfect home or the perfect partner or the perfect job? I think it is unlikely. So why when you ask how someone’s baby is, do they sometimes reply their baby is “perfect”? And I don’t mean in that dewy eyed, new parent, every baby is perfect kind of way. I mean they actually believe their baby is ‘perfect’.
I bumped into a new dad I know at the weekend and inquired how his baby was doing. He replied that she is “perfect; she never cries, sleeps through the night and is the easiest baby”. Now I can’t help but wonder one of two things. Firstly does this constitute a ‘perfect’ baby? And secondly, if so, and my baby is pretty much the opposite, does this make my baby, and probably 80% of other babies, flawed?
What is perfect? If an adult was always compliant, never spoke and rarely showed emotions would we find this desirable? We may joke that this would be the perfect spouse, but the reality is that we would perhaps find this person a little odd? Or at the least a little dull? I’m not suggesting this baby is either, but I do find the whole thing rather strange. Babies cry to communicate.
It turns out my acquaintance is not the only person I have met with the ‘perfect baby’, baby groups are littered with them. The ones that “sleep through from when she was 6 days old and still does a year later”. The baby that “never fusses”, “he’s just so easy”, “you would barely know he is there”. The same can certainly not be said for mine. When I had my first baby this kind of comment would have left me feeling like I was a failure. I would cry and question why wasn’t she sleeping?, why did she want to eat every 2 hours round the clock? What was I doing wrong?
Now I have a slightly different take on it, if we never have the difficult times how do we appreciate the good ones? When said ‘perfect baby’ reaches toddlerhood and are the ones having a mega meltdown in Tesco’s as we sail past with our beautifully behaved children (who have been ladened with Pom Bears and biscuits to ease the shopping experience) we can have an internal smug moment. For we know all too well the world of meltdowns. We have experienced them from the moment our child entered the world. But for this 5 minutes it is not our child in that position, it is the parent who proudly announced they had the ‘perfect baby’, and for that we can be glad.
So next time when you harmlessly ask how someone’s baby is getting on and they say they have a perfect baby, take heart that while your baby may not be this definition of ‘perfect’, but your child has character and personality. We can appreciate the good times because we have had the bad, so in the long run perhaps it is us who have the ‘perfect baby’ after all?
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