08 September 2008


My tumultuous love-hate relationship with London has swung back to love again, and last night was the first time I was properly able to enjoy the city minus the sensation of full-on nausea. It made me realise, too, that the little things which seemed to make all the difference when I was sick (poor customer service, crowded transport, a bit of extra smog) are, in the happy glow of my second trimester, just that: little things.

Hold these up to the elements of my former life (uninspired cultural environment; death-defying winter temperatures; self-important, small-minded neighbours), and that’s practically like snubbing paradise because you saw a spider.

Work, personal accomplishment and family will always be major undertakings, no matter where you live, and I’m just thankful to have anchored myself in one of the most exciting, dynamic places on earth while I sort through these.

That’s if you asked me today, anyway.

Returning to Canada has also led to a more acute appreciation of the independence I’ve finally achieved here. When things got tough with the pregnancy, I rued the loss of former parental resources that once included rides to work, free meals and occasional help around the house. But these fringe benefits of living close to family come with their own price, and I’d have been handing back the keys to adulthood for the privilege of a few creature comforts – an uneven exchange by anyone’s standards.

I doubt I’ll ever go into detail here about what took place during our two week stay with my folks, but were it not for Bruce, rest assured I would soon be sending them the divorce papers with visiting rights on the unlikely proviso that they seek professional help and keep their sticky issues away from my psyche. I love them dearly, though I’ve had to concede that a distantly fostered ideal is much better for my sanity than getting up-close-and-personal with the reality.

Anyway, cue final credits for Doogie Howser M.D., Sex and the City, The Wonder Years, whatever. I’m finished reflecting on this now. What I really wanted to say was that last night at dinner, our friend Matt said that he couldn’t imagine not having children, but he couldn’t really imagine having children either, and hence didn’t know whether he’d ever be ready to make a decision, either way. And it made me think about my own attitude towards readiness for parenthood, which seems to change with each hospital visit, abdominal twinge and new bit of information gleaned from newsletters, friends and family.

What I ended up telling him seemed to solve the dilemma Bruce and I were having ourselves, which is that parenthood is not something you can imagine doing until you're in the midst of it, so there’s no point in trying. All you can do is go with the experience at every stage and wonder at the miracle of getting through it intact and even happier than you were before.

Whether you’re thrown for a loop, or whether being a mum or dad is something you’ve been getting ready for your whole life, nobody has the upper hand on preparedness. But hopefully everyone is pleasantly surprised by what happens next.

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