Stay-At-Home Nerd: One Man and a Baby
a new blogumn by Josh Pullin
2008 was limbo. Home prices were high. So was unemployment. Newspapers were dying. The market was down, as were my prospects. I’d left the warm embrace of a good job with excellent benefits at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program to pursue the high wire act of a screenwriting career. I also enrolled in school for film editing, you know, in case the whole writing thing didn’t work out. My wife beat a layoff with the floundering parent company of the Los Angeles Times and returned to her previous employer, a family-friendly ad agency that specializes in nonprofits. This allowed us to move into a new apartment with more square footage in a less cool neighborhood. It wasn’t the feature spec sale, South Pasadena home purchase, new parent living we imagined when we married at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood back in 2007, but we had dreams, damn it!
All of a sudden it was 2009. The screenwriting career, as often happens in Hollywood, stalled. School came and went. Even so, hope was in the air. We had a black president and health care debate. Home prices came down. So did interest rates. I can’t be unemployed forever we thought. Against our better judgment we bought a condo in Burbank and we got pregnant. I say we got pregnant because if you’re anything like me, then when your wife is pregnant you will experience sleepless nights, frequent urination, weight gain, mood swings and mild to severe nausea. And that’s just from thinking about college tuition.
The purchase of a condo earned us a federal tax credit (thanks Obama) and because it was new construction we garnered a state tax credit too (thanks Arnold). Luckily, our 8 pound 11 ounce, twenty-one and half inch baby boy was born before January 1st. And, you guessed it; he will bring us yet another tax credit (thanks baby). As the tax credits piled up our financial situation looked fine. Better than fine, we were going to make it. If I only had a job, a real job, we could start saving, pay for daycare, and take that long overdue trip to Portugal.
Nine months goes faster than you think. Twelve weeks will go even faster. Thanks to Ted Kennedy and the Family Leave Act my wife gets twelve weeks of disability to spend with the baby. Since I don’t have a job, I have twelve weeks as well. And, since I’m not looking for a job, I have a whole heck of a lot of time after that to take care of the baby. That’s right, I’m joining a growing number of men and becoming a stay-at-home dad. I’ve already been peed on, pooped on and spit up on. I’ve changed fifty-seven diapers in seven days. I’ve swaddled, I’ve rocked, I’ve sung, I’ve danced. I got 4 hours of sleep last night and almost 2 hours this afternoon. I feel great. I’ve finally got a job. Make that a career.