The Power Blog: My Child is a Tool by Lucas Pops
I should clarify my misleading title. I don’t mean to say my son is a tool in the way that he is a loser. I mean to say that he is a tool as in he is an instrument used to implement a specific function. And that function is for me to be a better man. I should probably take a step back and introduce B.C. (Before Child) Lucas. Back in my carefree days, I was known to be a bit lazy, actually, a lot lazy. But, as I soon learned, children do not let you take the easy way out.
I’ll start from his beginning, the labor. My wife went through one of the more difficult than usual births. Her contractions started on a Monday and our son did not come into this world until that Friday night. The first two days of contractions were far enough apart that she was not admitted to our birthing center until Thursday morning, so she had to labor at home until then. During that time she was in obvious pain. So obvious I don’t know why I even had to state that, but I did. She had decided to essentially stow herself away in our bedroom while a 24-hour marathon of The Simpsons played on the television in the background. (Not that she likes The Simpsons all that much; she just needed distracting background noise.) My wife wanted to be left alone in between contractions so she could concentrate. But during, I had to be there to offer encouragement. While my wife struggled with her pain in the other room between bouts of torture, I paced back and forth in my living room like so many sitcom dads in hospital waiting areas. I started with this story because it was at this time that something clicked in me. The only way to take my mind off of the immense situation that I found myself in was to escape into my writing. I had been, up until then, that typical guy who would talk about being a writer, and sometimes do a little here and there, but never really focused on it, until that day. I started to write. And continued to write until I would hear my wife start to breath heavy again. I would dash back into our bedroom and hold her hand until she had fought through her agony. And then back to my writing I would go.
After my son finally got around to taking his sweet time coming into this world, I got my wife what is customarily known as a “Push” gift. Daddy gets Mommy a token of affection that pales in comparison to her having just created your offspring. I got her the usual suspects of romantic gestures: flowers, chocolates, a card professing my love and admiration, etc. But I also snuck in another gift, and I never told her it’s full meaning until now. In her basket of gifts I placed a bottle of champagne. (She gave me crap for it, seeing as how she doesn’t really drink champagne regularly,) That bottle was a promise to my child, to my wife, and to myself. I would only open up that sparkling drink when I had accomplished something worth celebrating. I needed to get my career, my life on track for my family. The day after my son was born I had to rush off to work as a bartender at my job. I was at that bar when my son came home for the first time from the hospital. I needed a change. So we packed up (a year later) and headed to California. I think I’m the only person to have ever thought to move to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career.
I should point out here now that my wife travels for a living. Her job takes her all over the country for long stretches of time. It is such a wonderful gig, that I even worked it for a brief stint. We attempted to continue traveling with my son for the first year of his life, but once he became mobile, we decided that one of us needed to stay home with him. That someone was me. This decision was mostly made because I needed to pursue my career and I couldn’t do that on the road. At this point in my story is when my child goes from being an inspirational tool to an actual motivational tool. You see, when my amazing wife has to sacrifice for our family and leave us for several days, I am left alone with Hurricane Jonah (My son’s name is Jonah. Not to be confused with the recent winter storm Jonas) Back in my childless days, I could sit down to write whenever the mood hit me. Which would often still end up being delayed in order to binge watch Breaking Bad. But now when daddy has an idea, he has to wait until naptime to get to it. I have a ticking clock now in order to get work done, because once that tiny terror wakes up, it is all about him. (Toddlers can be so selfish that way) If I have a video to edit at night, I have no choice but to get to it right away, and make my time efficient, because at ten o’clock on the dot my brain and body literally shuts down. Not by choice, it’s from the fact that I’ve had to be up at seven AM (when did they start making a seven AM? I always liked the original PM) to get my child changed and fed every morning. Of course, I don’t want this to start coming off like I’m complaining. I still have the advantage of a partner that does get to be home for long stretches of time who also provides for our family. There are also many out there who do not get the luxury of essentially being a stay at home parent, and I am thankful everyday for these gifts, but I’m not staying at home forever. I push through my sleep deprived hazes to set up film shoots (during daycare hours) I troll the freelancing websites to build my portfolio. I get a crew together and launch a production company. (Cue shameless plug: www.feelslikefiction.com) I keep going not because I want to, but because my little tool makes me. I will admit that I am not a completely changed man, though. I am still human and have my lazy days. I know I have stuff to get done, but damn it feels good to just lie on the couch for a moment and enjoy those few hours of bed/whiskey time.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you for that, but now I’ll wrap it up by sharing the story of my journey to the west coast. My wife flew with our son by herself (Which we all know traveling with a toddler by yourself is so much fun.) while I drove cross-country with our car and our dog. I loaded up my vehicle with a few of our more delicate items we didn’t trust on the back of a moving truck. One of those items, guarded by our ferocious, seventeen pound Boston terrier named Guillermo, was that bottle of champagne I bought on the day my son was born. It traveled with me on that long drive toward my future. It remains unopened. For now.
Lucas Pops is a screenwriter, film director, and editor for the production company Feels Like Fiction. He would like to say what he does in his spare time here, but he doesn’t know the meaning of the word anymore. All of his time is spent either working or with his adorable son, Jonah, and his loving wife, Brandi.