Though the limitations of our immigration process was no longer looming overhead, we struggled to wrap our brains around the idea of freedom. Now that a new year is upon us, it felt necessary to take an hour to treat our personal lives like a business and write out a five-year plan.
*What are your projections for this year?
*What do you wish to achieve in the next five years?
*What do you wish to achieve in January…what will you have hoped to achieve by June…by this time next year?
*What are your goals and what responsibilities in making such achievements?
It’s a really interesting task in one’s marriage to touch base like that. How are we doing? Could we be better? How can we improve? How are we spending our money? Where are we going? How are we getting there? Are we going there together? Personally, I love a list for even the most mundane of things. I need a list if I’m going to get it all done. Writing it down is like a commitment, a contract of sorts. And there’s nothing better than
crossing something off your list.
When I was engaged, and the wedding was on the brink of cancellation, I used my love of lists to try to find an equal ground. I said “Let’s write separate five-year plans and see how they match up”.
Ideas flowed from my pen; my future flowing like black ink, making my mark all over the page. First, I’d graduate university, and then I’d get married, and then I’d go to grad school, which would ultimately satisfy the need to move to a different city. Travel to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, East Coast Canada. I added a baby last…just as an after thought really…just because I thought it said something about me if I didn’t. When we compared notes, my paper was brimming and his paper was non-existent because he didn’t participate in the exercise. You could cut the symbolism with a knife. All unraveled shortly thereafter, and we went our separate ways.
I used that list as a guideline, what I loved before I loved you. What was the most important thing to me? Travel. Seeing the world was all I ever wanted. Come to think of it, I actually wrote that list five years ago now. I crossed quite a few things off that list. I moved to New Zealand, where I met my husband. We moved to Australia, and saw Sydney, and the entire west coast of the continent. We went to Indonesia for our wedding anniversary (which satisfies my Asia requirement if necessary). When we came to Canada we started in Ontario with my best friend Evelyn and her husband and we drove to Prince Edward Island, stopping in every province along the way. Really all that remains is grad school, Europe and a baby.
Naturally, when one has been married over three years, is over the age of thirty and looking at a five-year life plan, it’s not unreasonable to question where procreation comes into the equation.
My husband asks me outright, jutting his chin towards my papers and handwritten notes. “Where do babies fit in to this plan?”
I respond by shuffling the papers and muttering under my breath. Where do babies land on this list…in five years I’ll be (gulp) 37. And from what I’ve gathered, the fallopian factory gets a bit more semen selective after the age of 35.
“Don’t you want to have a baby?”
Goodness yes…later on. I welcome it.
Benjamin, very gentle, presses on step further. “I mean…you’re 32 now, and if 35 is the cut-off…um…”
Welcome to my window, and it is closing.
Alec Baldwin can become a father again at 55, but for the ladies out there, there’s only so much time before you have to look into renting uterus’ or become a science experiment in golden years gestation. There’s a fine time line to walk in these few years of fertility.
After the mumbling and paper shuffling, Benjamin smiles. “You didn’t really answer my question”. I look down at my writing. My husband tries a new angle “What would you need to do before you want a baby?”. There’s about twenty different countries that come to mind. I look out the window now, watching the cars pass along on the highway.
“So we need to go to Europe this year then”, he says, because I haven’t.
My lips quiver into a smile.
That would be nice.
Sometimes I feel genuinely anxious about never seeing the world. That Benjamin couldn’t leave the country made me feel terribly claustrophobic. Now that we could hit the international terminal with ease, now it brings up the issue of cost. As we crunched the numbers over our new year budget, (yes we did the math), we realized that we could afford it, at the expense of…oh I don’t know a down payment of a house?
Lucky bastards. Back in the day when men wore suits, women wore hats, houses were cheap and smoking was good for you. “It’s your goal. Write it down” Benjamin says. But how does one afford that? Get a second job waiting tables three nights a week and save all of the tips for a holiday? Not bad. Get discovered by some media mogul who pays me to travel and make witty observations? Better. Wherever you are, generous benefactor, now would be a good time to show your face and dollah bills.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have a little baby bear with my big Benjamin Bear.
I love the idea of this little buddy lying between us in bed kicking chubby little legs, smiling, slobbering, giggling. Sitting on Benjamin’s shoulders, resting comfortably on my hip while snoozing into my chest. Hearing their little voices, their opinions and thoughts. The intimacy of making a family, raising a child. I even have baby names picked out. Hey, I work with children, I 100% get the appeal.
But when my husband wants to put a finger on the calendar to estimate my readiness, I can’t offer that to him. Yesterday, I visited with my good friend Trish and her baby Melody, who is heart-meltingly adorable. Trish asked about our family planning future, and I articulated my best possible answer. She, like all the other mothers out there gives me a general answer. Babies are amazing, but are all-consuming. After you’ve had a baby, you are never not a parent ever again. So… A) There’s never a ‘good time’ to start a family B) But take your time if it’s possible.
I don’t know why I feel like having babies is something that other people do. Like for myself, it still seems way too early. But I’m 32 now, I’m not a kid. I’m happily married, my husband and I are gainfully employed, mentally stable and caring individuals. I’d be a perfectly loving mother, and I have that love to give. Still there’s something generally panic inducing about cranking out a little one.
Firstly…as a rather petite woman with a nearly seven-foot tall husband, I do fear the size of the offspring. My mother has on more than one occasion confessed a similar fear…on my behalf. Which is unnerving, seeing as she gave birth three times without so much as an aspirin, because “cave-women didn’t have painkillers and they did just fine without them”. Therefore she could paint a rather clear portrait on the realities of childbirth, therefore I’d like to go the opposite route as cave-women didn’t have painkillers…but “smoke ’em if you got ’em, is what I always say.
I mean, you can dress it up all you want, but there’s no easy, attractive or painless way to get that baby out. I wish it were as easy as it was in my Barbie Doll era…this bitch even gets a flat stomach immediately after the baby is removed.
I think my fear of childbirth can be directly linked to Melanie’s experience in “Gone With the Wind”. We used to watch this movie on a yearly basis in my childhood, and that bit was always perfectly terrifying.
If a baby is stuck…how do you get it out anyhow? If someone told you they know everything about giving birth, but then at the last-minute said that they didn’t “know nothing”, and the only person that can help you secretly hates you and openly loves your husband, and the civil war is laying waste to all fine young men, keeping every capable doctor occupied. Wouldn’t you be nervous?
Granted…my situation is not anywhere near “GWTW” territory. The fear and doubts would subside. Maybe what I hadn’t achieved beforehand didn’t matter. It’s not like I’d give birth and immediately fall off a cliff. I’d still be me, just plus one. I would love this baby. If we had a baby we’d be perfectly happy.
But I’d like to explore the options, gamble with the numbers. How late could I push this time back? 33, 34, 35…Gwen Stefani? She’s 44 and fabulous and doing motherhood her own way.
Halle Berry had a baby at 47, Kate Winslet, 38. Then again these women are also richer than God, so who knows the amount of money poured into the enterprise. It’s like Angelina Jolie; only when you are that wealthy can you start collecting children from other countries the way I do scarves and knickknacks in far off marketplaces. And keeping them well-educated and well fed ain’t cheap either.
So if the issue is not if–but when. How can I take my goals by the horns and get myself where I need to go?
How can I get to the point that I am pushing out this twenty-five pound baby and saying–“I did what I wanted while I wanted and I have no regrets!…also I love morphine!”
And then a new adventure could begin with our new little buddy…and we’ll take them everywhere.
Listen, if I don’t have an answer for my husband or myself…then I really can’t even dream of making something up to finish this blog with a nice conclusive ribbon wrapped around in. I think as far as all dreams go, it is pretty rare that someone knocks on your door and hands that dream to you. You need to go out and get what you want. With the help of carefully drawn plans, we can now set our sights on the future, have some control over our lives. And this whole baby dilemma will feel a little less like a nightmare.
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