Baby Bjorn Again

I am writing this with a baby strapped to my chest like a time bomb, an apt simile in more ways than one.  This is our first night trying out the Baby Bjorn — a contraption that took me, my wife and a phone call to NASA to figure out how to strap me into it — and it’s my feverish hope that I can somehow roll baby time and writing time into one gloriously efficient chunk of my day.  The way the Peanut’s squirming and making guttural winding-up noises, however, does not bode well.  Not at all.

Two minutes later: The kid’s with her mom, who’s doing her best to console her, and I’m trying to get this post done before I have to take over.  The dream is dead and my ears are ringing. 

Two minutes after that: The kid is back with me as my wife goes off to make us dinner.  I’m typing with one hand.  This is par for the course around here now.  When I grouse about my writing conditions, the Missus replies, “I could just feed her, you know.”

One hour and a bottle of breast milk (for the baby, not me) later: I’m back with both hands free, for the moment.  There have been times when I look back wistfully on my single days, with my fridge full of nothing but beer and evenings full of nothing but writing and watching such bachelor staples as ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and ZOOLANDER.  Sure, it was kind of a pathetic excuse for a life, but it was MY pathetic excuse for a life.  I answered to no one.  If I wanted to hole up in my apartment and do my west coast poor man’s Travis Bickle routine, I could.  The only thing getting between me and my dreams was me, which, admittedly, became more and more of an obstacle as time went on: by the time I reached my existential crisis point, I was telling myself that I didn’t have to write that night; I could watch, say, SUSPIRIA for the zillionth time and the new script would wait till tomorrow, unless it got in the way of the SLEEPER/DEMOLITION MAN double feature I’d been planning all week.

That all changed when the Missus came into the picture.  Suddenly, it wasn’t my time; it was OUR time.  And our time didn’t always involve a STAR WARS saga marathon (not without some serious sweet-talking, anyway).  I had to learn the delicate dance of compromise necessary for any kind of cohabitation that doesn’t involve duct tape around the mouth and wrists tied to chair arms to last more than a few months.

Fortunately, the Missus was much more lenient when it came to my writing, giving me the space I needed.  In fact, she frequently believed in my dreams more than *I* did, prodding me on when it would have been so much easier for me to zone out and listen to Iron Maiden albums all night.  I soon realized that I had something to prove and, for the first time in a long, long time, someone to prove it to other than myself.  I got my ass in gear and re-dedicated myself to the craft, trying to take things to the next level. 

Now it’s me, the Missus and the Peanut, who doesn’t give either of us much space for ANYTHING.  She has become the center of our little universe, which is the way it should be, but the result of which is that our time has become HER time: It doesn’t matter if Daddy dreams about becoming an A-list screenwriter and is right on the edge of solving his Act II problem — the baby’s got to be fed NOW.  Screw the second act, and the first while we’re at it.

So what do I do?  What I have to do — steal minutes here and there, try to maximize the precious little time I have to work on my projects, focus in a way that I never did before because I never HAD to before.  Chasing the screenwriting dream was once so easy because I had stripped my life down to essentially nothing but that dream.  The irony is that I’d stripped it down so severely that I had nothing left to write about.  Today, my life is so full of distractions that sometimes writing almost feels like an afterthought.  And maybe that’s why the work itself feels so energized.  Go figure.

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2 Comments on “Baby Bjorn Again”

  1. The Last Spartan Says:

    The biggest improvement in our marriage came when my wife realized that whether or not she liked “guy stuff” that it was still important for me to occasionally have guilt-free time to pursue it.

    She may not like football or action movies. She may think that Rush Hour isn’t all that funny…but she realizes that sometimes, it’s not about her and the kids. It’s me time.

    She actually is the one who encouraged me to take up martial arts as a new hobby. It’s worked marvelously.

    Don’t worry; the days of “Star Wars” marathons will come back at some point.

  2. writerdad303 Says:

    Last Spartan, those days can’t come back soon enough.:)

    Actually, it’s not too bad — in most cases, my guy time is curtailed because I want to hang out with the Missus. But it’s sure nice to geek out solo once in a while.

    It’s funny, every time we settle into a routine lately, something new comes along to throw us off. The next big upheaval will be the end of the wife’s maternity leave… THAT should screw us up good and proper!

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