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One of the things that terrifies me the most about having children is having an unfulfilled life and getting stuck in one because I had children before I accomplished all of my goals. I was restless last night, unable to sleep, so I came up with a list of things to do before having children.

 Things To Do Before Parenting

1. Visit at least four other continents. I’ve been to Asia and of course, North America, but I need to see Europe, South America, and Africa. I also want to explore more of Asia.

2. Complete at least one advanced degree. Whether that is a Master’s in International Relations or Asian Literature, or a Juris Doctor, or a Master’s of Law, I need to have one in my pocket before I’ll ever consider becoming a parent. I promised myself this when I was a wee one.

3. Go to Indonesia, Thailand, the Yunnan Province of China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, and New Zealand. I’ve always been fascinated by the cultures, history, religion, and artwork of these  lands, and to see them up close and personal would take my breath away.

4. Master Japanese, Russian and French so they are just as good as my English.

5. Take my birthright trip. But I don’t want to do just a tour. I’m attracted to doing the volunteer work project associated with Maase Olam. They appeal to me because of their emphasis on Jewish virtues like Tzezek and Tikkun Olam, their dedication to having volunteers from all communities rather than just observant Jews from more mainstream conservative communities, and the Hebrew language course.

6. Buy a house I can call my own. Of course, my idea of being able to “call it my own” isn’t just owning it on paper, it’s decorating it to my taste, fixing up a solarium where I can read, paint, and bask in the sun, turning the basement into a library, and the attic into a miniature observatory. I’m ambitious.

7. Learn to be a good cook. I’ve always had an interest in cooking, but never got the chance to express it properly at home, since my mom was the type of person who believed that reliance on canned and boxed ingredients was a sign of modernity and progress. I’ve already put Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, Ripe From Around Here, and Northwest Essentials (What a mix, eh?) on hold so that I may learn how to cook a variety of dishes and take advantage of the availability of fresh, delicious ingredients in Victoria and learn to do more than my basic artillery of backup dishes. I love cooking, and I’ll never be a master chef, but I hope to get close enough to be a very great cook.

8. Learn the basics of at least one instrument, preferably the cello or the piano. It’s the greatest gap in my education that I never learned an instrument as a child, and I want to make sure I can not only enrich my mind and spirit as an adult through the power of music, but also provide an environment rich in live music for my children.

9. Read one Nobel Prize winning novel from each country that’s won one in literature. I don’t necessarily think that a Nobel prize is always a marker for superior quality of course, but a novel that won a Nobel is often more likely to be found available in English, so I settled with that criteria. I’m going alphabetically, starting with Austria’s Greed and Bosnia’s The Vizier’s Elephant.

That’s all before I will be comfortable becoming a parent. I believe it’s important for me to have been spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally fulfilled in many different ways before setting my foot into the world of parenting. In doing these things, I also believe I’ll come across new revelations of how I can be the very best parent to my future children.

I know from first-hand experience that children thrive on having interesting, varied experiences related to them, being told stories, and having interesting conversations. Whoever said children are to be seen and not heard must have not spent a lot of time around children, because ones who are stimulated and given lots of love, attention and books are among the most acute observers of life I’ve ever encountered. My goal is to be a hands-on parent, not a “smother mother”, but one who will engage them intellectually and emotionally. If I manage to accomplish all of this, I feel that I will be able to not only give myself a good start as a parent, but give them a good start at life.