This is a pretty usual conversation for me these days:
“How old is your son?”
“Six months. I can’t believe it.”
“Oh, wow! Are you sleeping?”
“That’s good. How many hours a night?”
(Looking away, trying to mumble…) “Like ten.”
(In shock) “In a row? Consistently?”
“You’re so fucking lucky.”
And here’s the thing, I know I’m lucky. My son has been a good sleeper since, well… always. By six weeks he was sleeping 6 hour stretches. When I went back to work a little over a month ago, he started sleeping ten hour stretches (much to both my delight and chagrin because my darling husband predicted we’d have a good sleeper, and I really hate it when he’s right). But my son has always been a considerate baby like that— I mean, he waited to be born until after I finished watching Drag Race. On the days I work from home, he usually naps when I have to work, which is always at different times and different durations, but he somehow still does it.
He also rarely cries— and when he does, it’s for good reason (too tired or he shit himself, usually… which let’s be honest, that’d make anyone cry). He laughs and smiles at almost every one he meets, doesn’t need to be picked up or held constantly, and is usually in a pretty good mood (even when we’re feeding him foods he doesn’t particularly enjoy). I’m not saying these things to brag or make other parents feel bad, these are just the facts: I have a good baby. I know this is not the norm, so I know I am lucky. And In another universe, I would be the first to admit it. But, when someone tells me how lucky I am, I immediately think about that day in the doctor’s office when I found out my first pregnancy wasn’t viable anymore. It didn’t feel very lucky going through this thing that only happens in 1 out of every 10,000 pregnancies. And I certainly didn’t feel very lucky having to mourn a pregnancy loss instead of celebrate a birth. So yes, I get that I’m very lucky my son is a good baby, but maybe it’s also karma for the pain I went through.
Even if I didn’t go through all that, telling someone they’re lucky when it comes to their kids, somewhat diminishes their parenting. That’s not to say people who have bad sleepers or criers are bad parents, but when you chalk something up to “luck” you’re essentially saying that all the things I’ve been doing— all the books and articles I read, all the hours and sweat and tears I’ve put into being a parent — doesn’t really matter. And that’s not really fair.
Every kid is different. And I know my son is going to have his rough patches and I’ll probably regret writing this post because I would’ve jinxed it. But maybe instead of commenting on how lucky I am, you could simply say, “good job.” At the end of the day, that’s all a parent really wants to hear, anyway.