Follows on from The Things We’ll Miss.
Herbert agrees to draw up a pregnancy bucket list with me. I expect a gushing-forth of profound longings and long-held ambitions, but I am wrong. Instead, he says,
‘Do you really want to skydive? You’ve never mentioned it before.’
‘Yeah I’d like to skydive.’
‘I think I read somewhere that you have a one in four chance of breaking a bone when you skydive.’
‘So you need to be in a fit state to drive me to hospital if anything bad happens.’
‘Right. So we can make a list, but only if you approve it?’
‘No. Well…yes. Oh okay, you can skydive if you really want to. But it had better be bloody important to you. And I’ll be pissed off if you break your ankle.’
After that, he’s out of ideas. But as it turns out, so am I. When I try to pin down my sense of anxiety about what I’ll lose by having a baby, it’s vague and elusive. It centres around a fear that I’ll lose my identity, or have to abandon my own dreams. But, somehow, I’m not quite sure what those dreams actually are.
What’s more, the rebel in me is appalled at the notion that a child will stop me from doing anything at all. I’m full of the urge to challenge the notion that I have to put myself under house-arrest just because I’ve reproduced.
But I know, too, that few people manage to get through the experience without sacrificing something. The question is, do we only actually surrender the things that don’t matter to us anyway? And are we sometimes grateful to move on to the next phase, setting aside the parts of life that we’ve long since grown out of?
In any case, after much debate (and no small amount of bickering: ‘Your ideas are rubbish!’ ‘You’re oppressing me!’), we finally come up with a list. Some of these are mine alone, but some are joint aims. In no particular order:
1. Throwing a final after-pub party, where everyone dances in the kitchen until the early hours of the morning.
2. Learning to be fit as a part of everyday life.
3. Developing a regular meditation practice, that won’t get lost when the baby comes.
4. Going to see the Northern Lights.
5. Confronting our joint fear of anything to do with being a parent.
6. Getting my career in order.
7. Learning to dance the tango.
8. Working out how to have good (read: ‘useful’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘productive’) evenings in.
9. Indulging in grown-up pleasures – the stuff that children would ruin if they were there: city breaks, expensive restaurants and art galleries.
10. Finding role models who are mothers.
11. Herbert still maintains that he wants to sky dive.
And we’re making a start next week: we’ve booked tickets to Tromso, Norway’s ‘Paris of the North’, where a sighting of those Northern Lights is as near to guaranteed as it can be. I can’t wait to get started.