Jordi’s shower at our apt. tonight – click for bigger
My brother Sean and his wife Jordana are entering that strange liminal stage called “full term” – they are far enough along in the pregnancy that if they gave birth tonight, it wouldn’t be premature. The official due date is December 17, but as most of you know, only 4% of babies actually bother to show up when expected. All of which imparts a constant buzz, an excited, worried, expectant shortness of breath that comes with the imminence of your first child.
Tonight we hosted their baby shower, and, as with ours twenty months ago, each guest was asked to provide a random snippet of advice. Since S&J’s crowd is slightly younger than us, we happened to be the only parents who had recently weathered a newborn, so their friends each offered something that had made a difference in their own childhoods. In many ways, this sort of advice can be even better.
Lucy has been so excited about the arrival of her cousin that she wants to spend a few minutes talking about it every day. After being a little freaked out by my hairy brother in the early going, she has developed a crush on Sean, and the thought of Auntie Dana having a baby in her belly fills her with delight. We were walking down Union Street the other day talking about cars (and which ones were red) when she suddenly said “dey’s a baby, dey’s a baby, in Auntie Dana’s belly.”
I told her she was very good for using her possessive “s” combined with a name, and she looked at me like I squashed her buzz. The thought of an actual human being living inside another human being is a pretty trippy concept, and remains just as magical to me as it does to Lucy.
I gave several pieces of advice at the baby shower, of varying degrees of usefulness:
– don’t get a baby wipe warmer, just hold each wipe in your fist for five seconds to take the edge off before putting it on your baby’s arse
– never underestimate the power of the grundle when putting your baby to sleep
– always have an automatic “escape valve” or “get out of jail free card” that allows you to completely restructure your life if someone becomes inexorably miserable.
I can expound upon these in a later blog.
However, the one thing I told Sean while we were golfing last weekend is to make a conscious decision not to allow your life to drain of external meaning when the baby comes. In other words, fight to stay an artist, whatever that means.
In the hormone and adrenaline-charged weeks after Lucy’s birth, Tessa was feeling like we shouldn’t go back to Los Angeles, and our dream of writing TV and film scripts for actual money was hanging by a thread. Inspired and slightly scared, I wrote the first draft of a TV pilot in six days. Between breastfeedings, Tessa took that draft and overhauled it entirely. In a month, we had the final product, and that script led to our pilot deal with ABC last year. It remains our calling card and gets us into almost any meeting we want, and may well be turned into a show someday.
It was borne of fear, in the minutes following the most important event of my adult life, and I chose to put that energy into something restorative of old dreams. Any of you who have read Sean and Jordana’s writing know they are infinitely capable of the same. I challenged Sean to write a one-man show, or his two-woman show, or hell, even a screenplay or pilot in the harrowing weeks ahead. Not to be a control freak or too pushy, but I’d love to see him do it.