“Children are our guides to the higher spiritual planes. They serve to remind us of what we may have lost or forgotten in our efforts to cooperate with our culture. They remind us that all human minds, young and old, are tuned to the same fundamental wavelength, and that we can all read minds–we just pretend that we can’t as we get older and find that our culture demands duplicity.
The child’s state of consciousness is not to be rejected or replaced, but supplemented by the growing knowledge that you can’t get what you want by force-physical or psychic. This is what we have to teach children with the utmost patience we can muster, for the pain they may cause us is nothing to the revelation they offer at any moment.” – Stephen Gaskin
Being in the presence of a new being is truly a wondrous experience. In the first days of my son’s life, my husband and I barely slept. Not because we were up and down with a crying babe, but because we were so captivated by him. We couldn’t take our eyes off him. To describe the purity and sweetness of him defies words, but it is something that I have witnessed in all new beings that I have been in the presence of.
As a new parent, one of the things I’m learning is how to abide personal questions from strangers. One that particularly perplexes me is the question, “Is he a good baby?” What does that even mean? How am I supposed to respond? The spirit of meanness in me is tempted to shoot back with, “are you asking if he’s good at being a baby? I guess.”
Really what they’re asking me is either, 1) is he a happy baby, or 2) does he stop fussing long enough for me to bathe and sleep on occasion? The answer to both questions is yes, and I could nauseate you by going on at length about his sweetness. I have been blessed with a happy and healthy baby, no doubt. I suspect that even if he kept me awake nights with colic, or had some other issue that was making him fussy, I would still see his inherent sweetness and love him unconditionally. Unconditional love does not require qualifiers such as “good” or “bad.”
I also find it troubling the notion that implies that good babies don’t cry, or that I only hear my son being praised as “good” when he is content and not interrupting the activities of the adults around him. I believe when babies cry they are communicating a sincere need. They are hungry, or wet; they need the security of being held close or need to be moved around, etc. They don’t cry to annoy or inconvenience, or to manipulate us into attending to their desires. They are too new in this world to have developed the wants that we adults have.
Even though my son is a happy baby, he’s still a baby. He still demands the majority of my attention at any moment. He still needs to be close to me for a lot of the day and night. Becoming his mother has been wonderful, and it has completely changed the way my time is spent. Being a parent still requires a tremendous amount of energy, and is still challenging. I find that the times I feel myself get frustrated is when his needs for my attention interrupt a task or activity. When I’m trying to finish dinner, or a magazine article, or do just 15 minutes of a yoga practice. My frustration has nothing to do with him being good or bad, but rather with my own attachment to finishing that task right now. When I remember to take a deep breath and know that the stove can be turned down for a moment, or that the laptop will still be there, but that my son’s needs are truly immediate, I feel a lot less tense.
There is a gazillion dollar racket built around toys and devises meant to distract and pacify babies to better assist adults in their busy lives. I think that a lot of these items, especially toys that produce a lot of artificial sounds or have light up parts, have less to do with nurturing our babies’ growth and development and more to do with convenience for adults. It’s not my intention to be judgmental by saying this. Even though we are parents, we still have other important responsibilities to juggle. Sometimes we need to leave the house by 8am sharp, sometimes the magazine article is due…errr…oops… yesterday (hi Ffjorren!). Toys and other “baby soothing” products can be helpful when juggling responsibilities.
One of the biggest things that my son taught me so far is presence. He is so fully present in each moment because he is a new being on this earth. Everything he is experiencing is fresh for him, and he’s learning at every moment. He is just as content watching his shadow on the wall or looking at detail in the grain of wood on the floor as he is playing with a toy. He is learning so much just being, feeling, seeing, hearing and tasting. A battery powered toy can say, “the cow goes moo” an infinite number of times to him, but if that bright light up toy has his focus, he probably won’t notice the bird at the window. If he’s strapped into a car seat or swing all day, he’s not learning how to move his body. By giving him the space to be present in his world–to play and move freely–allows him to learn things through his own observation and experience. All babies are good babies; they all possess that wonder and sweetness. It is our responsibility as parents to preserve this quality as best we can.
Written By Allison Prater | For more articles from our Nurture Department click here.