Sunday, January 04, 2009

Me, Mr. Mom

I never much liked the 1983 comedy hit, but more than 25 years later I'm getting a chance to rewrite it--for real. This was Day One of the Larissa and Daddy Show, and it went well, not that I decided to take my baby on a spree or anything. (We stayed indoors and played with this or that toy as I kept half an eye on the films I had recorded on the DVR, including Jodie Foster in the original Freaky Friday and Raquel Welch as the one-and-only Kansas City Bomber --co-starring Jodie Foster as her daughter. Tomorrow will be more ambitious than an inadvertent Jodie-thon.)

Having a baby is the life-changing experience, yet what's most remarkable is the little ways in which it reshapes you. We writhed through the child torture sequences in Slumdog Millionaire; it's always tough to watch kids get brutalized in movies, but when you have your own the violation is suddenly personal. I'm more empathetic to parents whose kids are having meltdowns in public; they should of course do more to prevent the eruption, still, I know the feeling when it happens and there's not much to be done except tough it out. Mundane things take on a new color: It's ecstasy when I finally get Larissa's outfit on in the morning--and agony when her diaper immediately overflows all over it, necessitating another frustrating costume change.

Was it only five months ago I was living an entirely different life? My transition from gadabout continent-to-coast studio apartment dweller to married-with-child settled condo owner has been a lengthy one, and I feel I've definitively turned a corner. I still have my myriad cultural interests but they are now at a certain remove from me, a little off to the side whereas they were once central. When I mentioned this to online acquaintance (and fellow parent) Joel Stein, he said, "Yeah, occasionally you'll feel sad, not because you're seeing fewer films, but because it doesn't matter to you the way you feel it should." I haven't really tested that proposition, yet it feels true.

(And, no, I don't plan to abandon the theater or the multiplex, just reposition them in my life to clear the path for fatherhood. Which is not as impossible to manage as Mr. Mom would have. Men can handle the dishes, the supermarket, and the tidying-up. Just not those damn "one-sies," which are are a bitch to slip on by yourself when your baby can't sit upright. That daily comedy I should put up on YouTube.

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