Drawing up the list

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.


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4 Responses to Drawing up the list

  1. Flaf 18/01/2012 at 18:23 #

    Wow, lady you are so together! I didn’t have the presence of mind to do this, and sometimes wish I had. Nice work on sorting #4.

    I wouldn’t worry about #5. Noone has a clue the first time and they make it up as they go along. By the time the child is old enough to grass you up, you’ll have developed a good line in blag.

    I DO miss sleep though, but even that is coming back again. I don’t think it’s always a time of loss, but certainly of metamorphosis (hopefully not too Kafka-esque though)

    • Betty Herbert 19/01/2012 at 09:26 #

      I feel like my body’s already training me to wake up through the night – I barely manage an hour at a time. It’s bloody annoying is what it is. At this rate, I’ll end up having more fitful nights than the baby!

  2. P 18/01/2012 at 18:23 #

    Wasn’t sure what a bucket list was. I now know, except for the colour?

    Your (9) we did all those with our 9 month our child. It was amazing, except he tried to drop his socks in the art museum. It did go a little wrong when we did an evening with a Beetle’s tribute band. We learnt he (the baby) had a problem with very loud noises, they made him shake and our ‘parenting skills’ took over and we sadly left the venue. (Not sure he’s been right since with loud noises, but he loves the Beetles, so it worked out). Thinking back the only real place I had a problem with ‘a baby’ was the university library, even though he was quiet. I was asked to leave!

    Your (10) The one book I would recommend above all others, not so much about parenting but
    very much about parenting and environment is Sue Palmer’s Toxic Childhood.

    And (11) well yes, an excellent show that fear is but an excuse for a day out.

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