Parenting

Did you have a before-kids bucket list?

Ariel thinks about all the places she'd love to travel and explore, before having kids of her own.

Photo: shapecharge/iStockphoto

The newest member of our family was born in Vancouver via C-section earlier this week — a 7 pound, 14 oz. healthy baby girl. She’s my husband’s cousin’s daughter, which sounds more convoluted and distant than it is. My husband and his two twin cousins (a boy and a girl) were born four months apart and grew up almost as triplets, in the same small coastal BC town. The three of them have always been close. This week’s teeny arrival joins a growing gaggle of grandkids on that side of the family, which now includes seven kids under age six.
 
In other words, my husband and I — childless at ages 29 and 31 — are a bit behind! My husband turns 32 next month, and I’m turning 30 in the spring, which seems to be the official “gong” that signals women my age to start thinking (and talking) about that ticking biological clock.
 
In the past six months we managed to buy a house, and got hitched. As anyone who’s ever been married knows, as soon as you tie the knot, people start asking you about when there will be a baby on the way. (They don’t even wait until after your wedding day.)
 
Our answer? We both love kids. We want kids. Sometime soon. Ish. But it feels like a deadline — or a fork in the road. Time will be marked as Life Before Children and Life After Children. We are definitely looking forward to a life with children — longingly, even. But we just can’t seem to decide when to “pull the trigger.” Which is a terrible expression, I realize (on many levels), especially when we’re talking about something so amazing and exciting. But! There’s also a little bit of panic mixed in with the anticipation. There are so many things we want to do, and places we want to travel, before we’re encumbered by little ones.
 
For me, this Before Kids Bucket List includes lots of the travel we meant to do during our 20s, but just didn’t have the vacation time — or the infinite funds — needed to pull it off. We want to ski in South America in the summer, without hauling luggage and equipment for a family of four (or more). We want to take a road trip around the American South without worrying about anyone getting carsick in the backseat. I find myself daydreaming of trips and separating them into a “kid-friendly” list and “definitely pre-kids” list, then plotting madly to get the grown-ups only trips booked before there’s a baby on board.
 
All this depends on your family, your relationship, your approach to parenting, and your kid, too. Some babies are easy; some aren’t. (I know a couple who took their eight-month-old on a week-long canoe trip. The baby was apparently happy as can be perched in the canoe, somehow?! Poor Dad had a lot to carry during the portages, however.)
 
I suppose a lot of my travel wanderlust can wait until we’re… gulp… retired? But that’s a scary thought. (Mostly because that’s a long way off. And I don’t want to picture us as old people. Yet.)
 
So, from parents who’ve been there, done that: What was on your pre-kids bucket list? Do you regret not travelling somewhere exotic? Or do you wish you’d saved up more? In hindsight, do you wish you’d taken more business and career risks when you were younger, before starting a family? What would you have done differently? And please don’t say, “I wish we’d slept in more.” That one’s already on the list.

FILED UNDER: