Originally Posted by MrFarFromRight
Although I have no children of my own, children are central and essential in my life. And co-parenting (I've been fairly close to that once, and not-too-distant with another family) is definitely the best! (My absolute ideal would be a commune where every member loved every other sufficiently to consider ourselves “family”.)
I lived in a squat in London with 7 other adults and one young girl. I met her when she was a year and a half old, and started living with her when she was 2. (She’s now 35, herself the mother of 2 daughters, and one of my dearest friends.) Her parents liked to go to bed earlier than most of us and before doing so would ask, “Is anyone going to take responsibility for M?” Some of us would have other plans, but there was always someone – usually more than one – happy to stay in. Important was that at least one person commit themselves to this responsibility for M for the rest of the evening. As I wasn’t a big fan of pubbing, I was usually one of those that stayed in, whether I was delegated THE responsible one or not.
We soon learned to say: “Now, M, you know that when you’re tired and have to put on your PJs you get crotchety. So why don’t you put them on now, while you’re still wide awake?”
M knew that we weren’t trying to get rid of her, that she could stay up as long as she wanted, so off she’d go to her bedroom, bring her PJs back to the kitchen, and put them on (with help and later – when she was older - without).
Then she’d climb onto someone’s lap – or play with her toys on the floor – while we young adults would have these oh-so-important discussions about politics, sexuality, philosophy, food: you name it.
Since she didn’t go to school (or playgroup) there was no specific time when she had to be up in the morning. And with so many people in the house – as well as in the street (the whole street was squatted) without regular jobs (and some of them with children that M could play with) – whenever M’s parents needed a break from her during the day, there was always somebody else ready to help out.
So there was never that oh-so-typical battle at bedtime that happens in so many nuclear families – when the children
have to go to bed because the parents
are worn out...
(There were times – when M was 3 or 4 – that I would think: “Poor M! Listening to us babble on and on about some philosophical topic that’s way over her head.”
And then M would ask some question that was so apposite, so intelligent, that it was clear that she was following the conversation well... and was interested.)
And when (later than most London children are allowed to stay up) M – sitting on my lap with her “sniffing blanket” - would ask in a sleepy voice: “J, would you put me to bed?” I'd answer: “Of course
... And my heart would just melt
[When M was 4, she moved into a nuclear-family situation in much
more confined quarters in the country with her parents and her younger sister (another of my dearest friends). I was invited to move in “but not for a few months, until we’ve consolidated our position there” and, when I got there, the effects of the different life-style dynamics were already making themselves felt. Although there was one friendly neighbour family with 2 small children who helped a bit, there wasn’t that intimacy or love for M from so many adults. Her parents – having to deal by and largely alone with her– didn’t have the energy or the patience with her that they’d had in London. (e.g. “You have to go to bed now
!”) And M really suffered from the change. (Her sister – being younger and not so grown-into the squatted-house dynamic – suffered less in adjusting.)
I remember one occasion – shortly after I'd moved there, a drizzly day when the 2 girls and I were playing on the floor of the living-dining-room/kitchen (the parents’ bedroom being through a door and my room in another building) – when the father said: “Look, I've got a headache. If you girls are going to be making such a noise can’t you go play outside?”
(I was amused and indignant that he put all the blame on the girls, when I was being just as loud.)
“It’s raining out!” I said. “If you’ve got the headache, why don’t you
Epilogue: Adult conflicts of interest / the strain of living as the “outsider” with a couple – our original idea to start a rural commune never was realised - in an isolated rural society... caused me to move out and away. (I did
find them their present home - a lovely farm with much
more space – before I left, and visit often – less now since M and her sisters have grown up and moved out.)
Annabel, you write: “Because of how strongly I feel about both of them, I'm pretty positive that I'm going to fall massively in love with their baby. It's scary, because I'm going to be emotionally vulnerable on so many fronts... when it comes to her, when it comes to him, when it comes to the child which is in no way my child and yet is the progeny of my two lovers.” But rember 2 important things:
who brought up the subject of co-parenting.
And if you weren’t emotionally vulnerable, you wouldn’t be human (not REALLY human). You’d be a machine. Life is
scary. My best advice is: fall
massively in love with the baby. I did with M (and her sister) and – although it’s brought me heartache on several occasions (for example, when I decided that I had to leave) – I've NEVER regretted it.
You also wrote: “Time has always been a problem for Gia and me, and for Gia and Eric as well. There's never enough of it! And when the new baby comes, of course that problem is just going to get a million times worse.” I want to criticise your word “worse”. And you yourself hit on the same point when you wrote: “I can actually see it getting stronger because I'll be helping her through so many intense things.” And don’t forget that “fall[ing] massively in love with their baby”!
John Lennon sang: “People asking questions / Lost in confusion. / Well, I tell them there’s no problems / Only solutions.” [“Watching The Wheels”] I think that you should bear this in mind: look for opportunities, not problems. If you’re going to be “Number One Auntie”, this might bring you even closer to Gia AND Eric. Certainly very appreciated on more than just a sexual / romantic-love level.
Why are you worrying when you’ve got so much to glory about?