Jamie Centowski and Meadow Thayer are 19; James and Marla Centowski are 61
RCT last update here
So, they were parents now.
Baby Harrison had arrived a little over a week ago. People had told Jamie and Meadow that this would be a 'time of transition , a time of settling into new roles and routines. But for the whole household, all of the past few months had been like that.
Things were still tense, but it was getting better.
At least they could all sit down to a meal together now without it being too uncomfortable. Jamie had learned what topics to not talk about in front of his father - his change of major, for example. James was still annoyed that Jamie was studying literature, rather than following him in a career in law.
The baby would have been another touchy subject, but they couldn't not talk about that. It helped that they had Jamie's mother to smooth things over. As much as his father still seemed mildly annoyed by their having a baby so young, his mother seemed even more enthusiastic than even Jamie and Meadow were about the new arrival.
Unfortunately this also created some new conflicts between Jamie's parents.
The first big upset came when Marla decided to turn her home office into a room for the baby.
"You can't just give up your space like this," James said.
"Well, its here or the guest bedroom, and you wanted us to keep a guest bedroom." she told James. "We have two living rooms, there's no reason I can't work from one of them."
Then, just when James seemed to have accepted the nursery idea, Marla announced that she was retiring from her job.
"It'll make it easier for Jamie and Meadow to plan their classes, if they know that there'll be someone home all day for the baby."
"You love your job," James protested.
"I've been doing it long enough," she said. "Time to turn it over to someone younger, bring in some fresh ideas."
"You'll regret this," James said. "Give it a few weeks, you'll be bored and you'll wish you'd stayed at work."
If Marla did regret it, she never let it show.
Quite the opposite, she seemed to love every minute she spent with her new grandson. It worked well for Jamie and Meadow, too. Having a baby didn't change the fact that they were still students.
Even with Marla's help, they were busy, between caring for Harrison, studying, and attending classes. The broken sleep didn't help, and although they tried to take turns tending the baby, usually they were all woken up when he cried - including Jamie's parents. Jamie and Meadow had a baby monitor in their room, but the nursery was close enough to James and Marla's bedroom for them to hear the baby too.
Tonight - this morning, Jamie corrected himself - Marla had arrived in the room a little before Meadow. Marla hesitated when the younger woman came in, but Meadow stood back, happy to let her continue.
But before either of them could reach the crying baby, Jamie pushed past them. "I've got him," he said, picking the boy up.
When they'd left for the kitchen, Marla turned to Meadow. "He seems to know what he's doing, doesn't he?" she said.
"Yeah, he does," Meadow agreed. "Nothing ever fazes Jamie."
---Jamie nodded a greeting to his father as he passed, on the way to get Harrison's bottle. He wasn't surprised to find him in the kitchen.
While he gave his grandson plenty of attention during the day, at night he was usually the only one not to try to cram into the little nursery to tend the baby.
For a while, Jamie was so focused on Harrison, that the didn't immediately realise that James was staring at them.
"What?" he asked, when he finally looked up.
"I was just thinking," James said, gesturing to the baby. "First son of a first son of a first son."
"That kind of thing's important to you, isn't it?"
"Probably more than it should be," James admitted, with a sigh. "You know, I was also thinking about my father... I always wondered if he was disappointed that I hadn't followed him in my choice of career or anything like that."
"It probably didn't matter," Jamie said. "He had Uncle Kyle to do all that."
"I know, but I was his eldest son, there might have been some expectation... well, anyway, the fact is, I was never interested in writing, or studying literature, or anything like that. But if that ever bothered Dad, he never mentioned it. He just encouraged me in the things that I did want to do. I don't know that I ever really told him how much that support meant, but I've never forgotten it."
Jamie turned his attention back to Harrison, unsure of exactly what to say. The baby finished drinking, and Jamie put the empty bottle in the sink, resting Harrison against his shoulder, aware all the time that his father was still watching them.
Jamie started towards the nursery, but James gestured for him to stop. "Thinking about all this, it does make me wonder what kind of memories of me you'll have to pass on," he said.
"Dad, don't - "
"But, you know, you're right - it doesn't matter any more how my father felt about my not following him."
"Because he's gone now?"
"No, because you're making up for it."
James stood up. "I should be getting back to bed, so should you now that the baby's settled." He clapped Jamie on the shoulder before leaving. "See you in the morning, son."
"'Night, Dad," Jamie said, pressing his own son gently against his shoulder as he watched his father go.
The next day, Meadow was studying when Marla sat down next to her. "I think I owe you an apology, " she said.
"For what?" Meadow asked, putting down her book.
"For kind of taking over, with the baby. I never meant to, I just... you probably already know about Jamie's eldest sister? She had her first baby in college, too, but we weren't able to do much for her. We had Jamie on the way at the same time... we ended up relying on James' parents to support her when it should have been us. So, now Jamie has this baby in college, and I guess it kind of felt like a chance for me to make up for that. But it's not about how I feel, its your baby and I'm sorry if I went overboard."
"That's why you did it? Not because... I... I thought you didn't think I could care for it properly, so... " she trailed off, not sure of what else to say.
"No," said Marla. "It wasn't that at all. You and Jamie are doing a fine job of caring for the baby. Seeing how capable you both are is what made me realise I was going too far in helping out."
"No, I don't mind... its better that you care for the baby. Jamie might know what he's doing, but I really have no idea."
"Why do you say that?" Marla asked.
"Well, because it's true... I... maybe its because I've never been around babies... there were never babies for long in the children's home, they all got adopted pretty fast. And now... I don't even have a mother or anything to talk to, and I just don't know what I'm doing." She finished with a little sob.
"You know, I kind of understand what you're saying," Marla said. "I was an only child, too. I lost my mother when I was small, and by the time I met James, my father was gone, too. You look surprised," she added.
"I am... I mean, I never knew... You've got this huge family, all these kids and grand-kids... I never really thought of you ever being alone."
"Well, I was," said Marla. "You've got to start somewhere, right? Now, what was I saying... oh, right... the baby. Having a baby myself was kind of scary without any family of my own to help me. And James never got how hard it was, he still doesn't. To him, its like giving birth just magically gives a woman the ability to care for the baby perfectly. But we know it's not like that, right?"
Meadow nodded. "So, what did you do?"
"Well, there was one person who was there for me. James' mother."
The older woman smiled. "I just want you to promise me one thing,"
"That you won't let me forget that it's your baby, ok?"
Meadow nodded. Her baby. She was still getting used to saying that. Her baby, hers and Jamie's. Her family.
You've got to start somewhere...
Awww, I think these guys are going to be ok!
Everybody just wanted to be better friends with each other this time - even James wanted to make up with Jamie...
... and, of course, both grandparents rolled plenty of wants for Harrison. Jamie and Meadow didn't roll any, but that didn't worry me - in-game, elders are meant to be grandparents, but YAs aren't meant to be parents, and I figure that's why. Jamie and Meadow certainly didn't lack in autonomously interacting with Harrison. Between the four of them, the poor kid barely got the time to sleep!
And, Meadow - I love it when ex-townies finally get family :)
And, Meadow - I love it when ex-townies finally get family :)