I started this blog some time ago now. At the time, it was a way of filling time on long winter evenings, when I didn’t want to go outside, or socialise, or do anything else terribly useful.
I wanted it to be all about the things that intrigue me about life, the things I read in the papers, the plays or films I go to see and that are sometimes so good (or so bad) that I can’t stop reflecting on them for weeks on end. It did sometimes all seem a bit futile, and since it’s mostly much less fun being a responsible adult than it was being a powerless child, it was I suppose my childish self-indulgence in writing about things that don’t really matter, but which engage me and indeed are the kinds of things that are the backdrop to lots of drunken dinner party conversation – stupid philosophical arguments, talking about events in one’s life, over-analysing people’s reactions and my own.
In all the singleton navel-gazing, I never really questioned what my overall goals in life were, and how I would feel once I had achieved them. It was obvious – if I achieved them, I’d be happy. I would segue smoothly from the state of mild loneliness and intellectual freedom that accompanies youth, solitude and urban life, to a rural existence that was more focussed on family, children and taking slightly more pride in my home environment (which wouldn’t be hard). There’d be a fireplace, with a big dog or two sleeping in front of it, several pretty children making lots of mess with lego, and of course a husband whom I loved and who loved me. There would be plenty of bumps along the way, no doubt, and perhaps it would be something of a variation on the bucolic idyll that involved having to go to work, but it would be fulfilling.
I discovered a few weeks ago that this could all now theoretically be achieved in less than a year – although that would mean my unborn child would have to be twins and learn to play with lego when he or she was three months old, but those are minor details.
The sudden reality of children is more ambiguous than I expected it to be. I can’t yet completely accept that my wonderful plan of doing whatever I wanted this year is gone forever, or that from now on, I will never, ever stop worrying about my children. For two years, I have worked towards taking time off from work for some self-indulgent adventures in the Himalayas, travelling around America, writing and letting my mind wander for a day if I feel like it. I’ll certainly be having time off work, but it’ll just be sitting in the house, feeding and changing nappies. It’s hard not to feel a sharp pang of regret at having missed out on everything I still wanted to do by a mere 6 months. People tell me that I can do it later, when the kids are older, but it would feel selfish then – and I would be a lot older too. I could go away when they’re really small, but I can’t imagine enjoying a month climbing Kyajo Ri and Gokyo Ri without just feeling bad about leaving them and my husband alone.
I could open a savings account, and keep paying into it for 22 years. So when I’m 55, and the children are hopefully 22, 20 and 18, I’ll go and climb my 6,500 metre peaks, go for a road trip around America, meet my friends, do all that stuff. Only I won’t, because I won’t feel like it any more. It would feel stupid, some old granny in a mid-life crisis, trying to pretend life hasn’t passed her by.
No doubt if this baby arrives as planned in September, I won’t mind any more. Right now, it’s a thing that stops me sleeping (which is making me useless at work), and makes me cry a lot, so it’s quite hard to see an upside. Becoming a parent is pretty much the only thing in life that is forever. Some marriages don’t last, you move jobs, buy and sell houses, change your political views, get your tattoos removed. It is life-changing, and I was pretty happy with my life before.