My friends' little girl — the one who's made of magic — is amazing. I'm overjoyed to be welcomed as a part of her life and she is absolutely awesome. When I consider how much I love Babygirl I feel almost self-conscious, like I'm intruding on Mom and Dad's territory, even though they encourage us to love the hell out of her because there's plenty to go around. Most of the time since she's gotten over her colicky start in this world she's a dream, but when she has a bad day… damn.
We stayed the weekend at their house and Saturday was a really bad day. Babygirl didn't sleep so well the night before and neither did mom and dad, so everyone was a little on edge, yet somehow they managed to be gracious hosts. We did, however, get to see the vicious cycle of frayed nerves, exacerbated by the fact that their live-in nanny, Babygirl's grandmother, is contemplating moving out and suddenly they're faced with looking into the cost of childcare.
Mom and Dad are excellent parents under the worst stress, but Dad was under a lot more pressure than usual this time around. He and I are of very similar temperaments, so it's interesting to me to watch him dealing with his daughter. He's highly sensitive and easily annoyed, very nurturing but often impatient. And my guess is, because both Mom and Dad are very intuitive, perceptive people, Babygirl could be extra sensitive to their emotions.
I could watch her grow uncomfortable as Dad got more and more frustrated that she continued to fuss, and when he got angry that, once again, she slept only briefly before waking up and squalling. When I mentioned this to Mom she just laughed and agreed that it's as if Babygirl is yelling at Dad for getting so frustrated with her. We did a lot of laughing that weekend, and it got us through the worst of it. It's easy enough to tolerate the child's inconsolable crying, but it's the tense, frayed energy from Dad that really made me start to get twitchy and uncomfortable. I feel bad for him, because all he wants is to be able to comfort his daughter when she's hurt or upset and it eludes him. Because of his hypersensitivity, he can't not take it personally and it really, really gets to him. I imagine he and Mom fight about the fact that only Mom can really calm the baby down more on their own than they do when we're around.
But if it was just Babygirl we were talking about, it wasn't that bad. We got used to it. We laughed when Babygirl made a particularly hilarious sound during her cries and were able to go about our business of hanging out. The next morning, when she woke all bright-eyed and happy, her magic kicked in and all was forgotten.
There were so many times that day and night where my husband would take my hand and squeeze, or I'd glance at him with a knowing look.
I see so much of us in this couple. They're amazing. I've never known a couple to continue living their life as normal so easily with a baby in tow. They're not afraid to take her places. They know Babygirl loves animals and is always gentle with kitties — she loves our big fluffy boy especially — and they have no problem setting up the pack-n-play in our guest room so they can spend the night. They're not paranoid about germs or who holds her and they take everything in stride. Some things have changed — they're not as flexible as they used to be, but they're the same people. Unlike so many parents I've known who've become paranoid, distrustful shells of who they once were, losing their entire identity with the birth of their child, this couple proves to me that parenthood doesn't have to change you. They prove to me that you can have a child and not live a life of fear. It's refreshing.
But that doesn't mean there aren't fundamental changes in their life and their relationship. Far from it, and I'm seeing it more as Babygirl gets older and they're coming to the realization that this is their life now. This isn't going away. It gets more real every day.
While they're very much the same, their world does revolve around this amazing little girl. When she's hungry, when she's dirty, when she's sick or in pain from just plain growing too fast, they have to be there. Even with their nanny, there are really no breaks. Sheer determination and knowledge that they need their creative outlets keeps them devoted to their hobbies but it leaves them utterly exhausted. Their social life may not be suffering, but it's clear their romantic life is, and that breaks my heart for a couple that is so in love. But there's just no time and intimacy is easy to sacrifice when your nerves are shot to hell from wearing Baby on your hip since you got home from work. Not a moment of their days is unaccounted for… and not a penny of their money is either. The level of sacrifice is daunting to consider, even for people who, on the surface, appear to not have sacrificed much at all.
I can't fathom my life changing that much. The constant presence of someone so dependent on me, the frayed nerves causing tension in our marriage, or the lack of any intimate alone time. So for now, we'll just consider spoiling Babygirl with the toys and clothes that are so fun to buy, and we'll enjoy taking her from Mom and Dad when they need a break. It's a pretty sweet arrangement, I've gotta say.