Nov 8, 2010  •  In Baby, Claire, Parenting, Personal

The Cutest Baby in the World

J is convinced that Claire is the cutest baby in the world. “How can you look at her and not think that she’s the cutest baby ever? I dare you to show me a cuter baby!”

My parents and in-laws all agree with him and are always marveling over their grandchild.

And once again, I am the lone (reasonable?) voice in the crowd.

“You only think so because she’s your daughter/granddaughter,” I tell them. “I’m sure you would think differently if she were someone else’s kid.”

Uproar usually ensues.

I think Claire is an average-looking baby. Not too hideous (and you have to admit that there are some ugly-looking babies out there) and not too adorable.


Cheering on the Ravens yesterday

There are moments, of course, when she is cooing and looking around the world with her eyes sparkling that I find her absolutely darling. But there are also times when her nose is scrunched up, eyes narrowed and face bright red that I do not consider her looks any more special than your run-of-the-mill baby.

And now that she is starting to pack on the pounds — she is quite the little piggie and is constantly hungry — she is getting fat. Not baby-chubby, mind you, but triple-chin fat with arms and legs that rival those of the Michelin Man. And while J and the grandparents LOVE fat babies (and actually want her to get even fatter), I have never found fat babies that cute. Chubby babies, yes. But fat babies, no.

Surely I am not the only parent who feels this way. Are there any other parents out there who don’t believe their child is the cutest in the whole wide world?

40 Responses to “The Cutest Baby in the World”

  1. Amber:

    To be honest, I feel pretty shitty being called a "Mean girl" especially from someone who I had considered a friend. Anyone who knows me knows I'm pretty damn supportive of moms, especially new moms because I know how rough it can be. I was one of the previously mentioned emailers in Jenny's in law post, because I was concerned. This is the reason I commented here about this, because I thought Jenny was maybe feeling down, as she mentioned before her borderline PPD test she had taken. So, possibly I have been too hard on Jenny, and when she clarified her feelings, I said fine, we agree to disagree, and I was NOT telling her how to feel- if anyone has read anything I've ever written they'd see that I'm always frank about everything with my daughter, including about her birthmarks.

    Usually I don't comment for fear of starting shit, as I kind of despise internet drama, and well, perhaps it would have been better if I had just stopped typing and left it as a draft because it appears to have just incited some people who should know me better than to think I'd come in here calling ANYONE a bad mother, as I know full well I am not Mother of the Year (read my blog if you want proof). I just know I want the best for Jenny and her daughter and I hoped a little perspective from a slightly less new mom would be a bit of a help. Guess I was wrong, guess I'm just a mean girl internet bully picking on a new mom- at least to those reading. Jenny, I hope you know me better than that, after years of conversations.

  2. Christie:

    Wow! This is nuts!
    You don't love your kid any less just because you're not blown away by her genetic gifts. I think it really is an Asian thing and I know where you are coming from. When I looked at my newborn son, I certainly didn't think he was the cutest baby ever. But virtually every parent looks with their heart, not their eyes. And this is easier to do when you can sleep in reasonable stretches and your boobs aren't on fire. Things are so upside-down for the first months…I really didn't feel the bond that I expected to until my kid was around six months old. Now that he's a year old, we're as thick as thieves and to his dad and I he is hella cute. Hang in there, it is all about survival in the beginning and you are doing a great job. Believe it!

  3. I would just like to say that I am not calling anyone a mean girl. What I am saying in all of this is that, when someone is a new parent, things are hard enough and having people come down on them for not feeling "appropriate feelings" can feel a little bit mean to the person on the other side of it. Being a parent is important, but so is having enough breathing room to say what you're feeling when you need to say it sometimes. I've talked to my in-laws about this at length. When they had their daughter, people thought they were being nice by interjecting with their own thoughts and ideas, but a lot of the time, to new, adapting, sleep deprived parents, it comes off as judgment. So maybe, it's nice to take that into account when you're talking to another mom. "How can you feel that way? That's wrong!" doesn't help; "I'm sorry you feel that way. I care about and support you." does.

  4. Um, maybe it's just that Jenny doesn't like to use superlatives too freely…in any context. Right, Jenny?

    Though I don't agree with talking about babies and their appearance (they're just babies after all!), I appreciate Jenny's honesty, and she's entitled to how she feels.

    There's an element of stoicism/realism that is common in many Asian cultures (especially with the Vietnamese). In fact, it's bad luck to call a baby beautiful or perfect, as the "evil spirits" will be attracted to them. This is not where Jenny is coming from, I'm certain.

    But I guess, all I'm saying is, it's okay to be measured in one's opinion–and really consider blithe comments about the baby–just as it's great to be effusive, as long as parents protect, nurture and love their children. Does what Jenny wrote necessarily take away from her love for Claire or will it damage her baby's self-esteem? I have no idea. But I do know that there are different ways to give children a sense of the world and his/her value in it.

    And for the record, I think all healthy babies are so beautiful and perfect and that's all I hope for with my own. I really hope s/he is healthy! To come in to this world with so many things that can go wrong after nine months and the delivery process…it's a little bit magical! And it won't even matter if s/he's not the cutest baby in the world!

  5. Wow, so many different opinions on this post! I see where you are coming from, Jenny. I don't think it means you love or admire your daughter any less. I think you are being very honest, and you are expressing things that some parents might think about their kids but never say out loud? I remember Mrs. Bee wrote a similar post about Charlie when he was just born. I can't remember what the response was to her post?

    It seems like you have managed to stay very realistic as a new mom, and aren't caught up in the euphoria a lot of parents feel when their babies are infants. I think that's okay. I appreciate all of the different opinions I have read on this post. I don't think anyone is wrong or right.

    With that said, all babies are beautiful miracles. It may sound corny, but that's just how I feel. And, Claire is very, very cute. I showed my husband her picture and we were both smiling over her utter cuteness!

  6. I personally liked the post, and agree. Unfortunately I think that P sits pretty high up on the cuteness scale (as defined by what we think is beautiful in America), so now I'm confused. Do I feel this way because he is actually cute by most standards, or am I blinded as his mom? I find myself editing out certain picture of him though (you'll see it in Claire, when she has head control and tucks her head to her chin and makes a really fat uncomfortable face, it's awful) because I don't want to remember him in that way. How is my desire to look back at the past selectively any different than your candor in admitting that you don't think your daughter is a perfect 10 on the baby cuteness scale right now?

    Being married to a Polish guy has really changed my perspective on things. There is no sugar coating and there is no "you are perfect because you are mine". Before we went to Poland the first time as a marriage couple he warned me that his family might make direct comments about my weight and how heavy I was, and that I wasn't to dwell on it, because that's just the culture. Whereas here in the States we are never supposed to state how things actually are if they might offend someone.

    Also I think most newborns look like little unattractive blobs and certainly don't look specifically like either parent. This always baffled me, people were making predictions about who he looked like even as soon as P shot out of my vag, If that's what people think I look like then maybe I'm a little insulted. I look nothing like a squished droopy face. :) (Haha, I'm getting close to a tangent here, sorry)

    To those who say "what if Claire finds out about this post later in life", I say "If she's a rational adult she will laugh and agree!" (and I can't see you raising anything other than a rational and logical child). Babies look nothing like adults, so you could call her ugly as sin and it still wouldn't be any comment on who she will be even 6 months from now. Did you see the recent comparison of P from months 1-6? Now I look back on his first month picture and wonder why I ever thought that droopy pile of poop/tears/sleep was something to get so excited about. Just look at this progression: http://thatwifeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/f3514f2.jpeg Claire is going to look like a completely different human being in a few months, and I officially give you permission to write a new post saying that you are now convinced that she is the cutest thing in the world, and it won't be hypocritical at all. No matter what anyone else says.

    And I've got to say a big "SHAME ON YOU!!!" to the woman who brought up your miscarriage and slapped you in the face with it. That must have been really hurtful! I'm sorry and I hope you won't pay her any mind.

  7. Jane:

    I don't find any problem whatsoever with acknowledging you don't think your baby is the cutest in the world. I feel exatly the same way about my son, even though my husband thinks he is the cutest ever. I think that speaks to simply our different preferences though, we often compare men and women who we find unattractive or attractive and we only agree maybe half the time. Of course I think my son is very very cute at times, but yes, when you are right there in the trenches with a screaming baby its hard to see the cuteness factor sometimes. I also have to say that cuteness changes a lot from newborns to toddlers and young children, I think we can all say we have gone through some pretty unattractive times even if we feel fine about ourselves now. My sisters baby was not cute at all for at least six or eight months and now he is 15 months and people say he is one of the cutest kids ever. There is just way too much emphasis in this culture placed on looking good in general it seems because it is the first thing we see in a person rather than looking at them as a whole person. I hope that even an average or less attractive child to the world can have no problem in understanding that their strengths and qualities and abilities simply lie elsewhere and there is no problem with that at all.

  8. Can I just applaud your honesty and your firm grasp on reality? Your baby is absolutely adorable, there's no denying that, but I find it so refreshing that you're not one of "those" parents who think their baby is perfect and sh*ts sunshine.

    I find that the parents who constantly remind us that their baby is the cutest baby in the whole wide world (seriously, you've met every baby in the world?) are so extremely annoying.

    You obviously think Claire is beautiful, but you are also honest and realistic. In my opinion, that's how parenting should be. Why do you think there are so many kids out there with "snowflake syndrome"?! Because their parents constantly told them how perfect, unique, and special they are, and now they have a deluded sense of self.

    Personally, I'm glad that "mommy-ism' hasn't clouded your critical thinking! :)

  9. anon:

    For an example of why this is a horrible way to raise your child, please see this season's Biggest Loser. The third place finisher, Ada, is from a Chinese immigrant family. And while they love her, probably, they treat her like shit. Maybe the way they treat her is somehow proper in Asian culture, like the way that you seem to think it's ok to argue about how average and unspecial your daughter is. Problem is, she's American, just like your daughter. She grew up hating herself, just like yours will. If obesity is her worst problem, you'll be lucky.

  10. Geek in Heels:

    @anon — I never said my daughter is unspecial. I just won't build her up to think she is EXTRA special, or that she is particularly great at something when she is not. On the other hand, if there is something that she excels at or even just slightly above average, of course I will praise her and encourage her. This is how I was raised and this is how millions of people (not just Asians) were raised and we all turned out fine. And thanks for the vote of confidence at the end! It's easy to judge a family you only know through a blog (and perhaps only through this post) when you're behind the veil of anonymity, isn't it?

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