Please don’t ask me if my child is a “good baby.”

Seriously, just don’t.

How is any parent supposed to respond to that question anyway? Because I estimate that 90% of the time, that answer is going to be a lie.

What exactly is a “good baby” anyway? Because it seems like the definition they are looking for is a baby that A. doesn’t cry, B. sleeps constantly, and C. communicates a bare minimum of human needs.

By this definition, my child has been a terrible baby. He still sometimes wakes up at night at 23 months old, and needs some snuggles to go back to sleep. He has big, huge feelings that are often loud. He doesn’t take long, luxurious naps most days. And he loves to wake up before the sun. Every. Single. Day.

I’m sure that people who ask this have good intentions, but I think that most of time the question is only going to make parents feel an unpleasant combination of guilty and deficient. What they are really asking is if your baby is “easy.” And with a choice few exceptions, (I’m looking at you Best Friend whose two toddlers sleep 12 hours a night simultaneously and sleep in till after 8:00 am), I think very few babies earn this moniker early on.

My child has not been “easy” since the day he was born. He weighed 10lbs 5oz, and was posterior. (I will leave the amount of back labor that produced to your wildest imaginations.) He couldn’t breastfeed, leading to 16 months of exclusive pumping. He didn’t sleep well, which lead to even more months of exhaustion.

But man oh man, is he an utter delight. He is fun and funny and bright and affectionate. He is creative and high-energy and passionately loving. His strong will and big feelings and tender affection will make him extremely successful one day in school, his career, and his relationships. He is a joy-bomb every single day, and we wouldn’t have him any other way. 

So I’ve learned over the past two year that perhaps “easy” is not what I should aim to achieve in parenting. Since when has something being easier made us into better people? Maybe, just maybe, the hard babies, the “bad” babies, turn us into better parents, and even better human beings. Perhaps difficult babies shatter our selfishness, and put us through a kind of intensive “boot camp” that makes us better prepared to face the other challenges that life will undoubtedly heave our way. I am a better person for having my beautiful, hilarious, loving, “not good baby,” and I am so thankful that he is mine. 

Kimberly Poovey

Kimberly Poovey is a writer, speaker, wife, and over-caffeinated new(ish) mom. She runs a teen pregnancy prevention program for a nonprofit and is a founder of Pearls, an organization that serves women in the sex industry and fights human trafficking. You can find her over on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, and on Facebook