One of the great hallmarks of any self-respecting club or interest group is its bizarre terminology.
Expectant parents are no different in this regard from SF geeks, hobby gamers and the myriad other associations I have belonged to: once you join their number, you will encounter expressions which have no precedent or purpose in the world outside.
Today, I’d like to discuss just one example of this strange, cryptic lexicon: the Babymoon.
For the uninitiated, a Babymoon is the expectant parent’s counterpart to a Honeymoon. The idea is that, after discovering we are pregnant, we schedule some kind of celebratory break; a holiday which follows the subject of celebration. This is where the similarity with a Honeymoon ends.
Where a Honeymoon might take a couple to lavish lodgings at a luxury destination, the Babymoon is rather more ‘affordable’ in nature. It is a holiday planned in the knowledge that expensive things are soon to occur; perhaps a week of fine-dining in Gay Paris isn’t really feasible when one is about to start buying disposable nappies by the hundred-thousand. A Babymoon might begin its conceptual life as a slap-up city-break in Barcelona, but it will soon be redeveloped into a weekend caravanning on a small Scottish island.
The next notable difference from Honeymooning comes in the tone of a Babymoon. This isn’t a holiday which simply celebrates new possibilities and the optimistic beginnings of a life together, but a bittersweet affair: the Babymoon accepts within its premise that the freedom of the babymooners themselves is about to undergo a very serious curtailment. We’re going to enjoy some time away together, because it’s the last unmolested time we’ll get for a great number of years.
I recently embarked on our Babymoon, mere weeks after learning that such a thing existed. As expertly foreshadowed earlier in this post, our destination was a caravan park in Millport, on the isle of Cumbrae.
This might not sound incredibly glamourous and honestly, it wasn’t. We were caught in back end of a hurricane, which had danced across the Atlantic to share its wet and windy joy with south and central Scotland. This meant that much of our time on the island was actually spent inside the caravan. But in the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want: but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
What the caravan offered in spades was peace.
Peace to read the books I had been meaning to get around to; peace to watch films we had missed in the cinema; peace to sit up late, chatting with my partner and discovering Geordie Shore for the first time (I have rarely laughed or cringed so much in the space of a few hours).
Importantly, peace for reflection. I did quite a bit of thinking on our Babymoon, about the bar I wanted to set for myself as a Dad. My impression of fatherhood is that it resembles a Presidency: one can make Grand Plans about how one will raise children, but much of it will be sacrificed once the hectic reality of just getting through each day kicks in. The trick, therefore, is to work out what the key policy pillars are – the redlines, the things which must be delivered – and fight to make the time for those crucial things if nothing else.
For me, some of those redlines are conventional (teach basic morality, prioritise education) and others are less so (do my damnedest to give our child the joy of geek life). But I’m glad I got some entirely quiet time to think about what they were – and to take a metaphorical deep breath ahead of the next few crazy years.
So for those of you in a similar life position, allow me to recommend the Babymoon as an ideal way to charge batteries and take stock ahead of the big day. Unlike a lot of the pregnancy vocabulary you may encounter, this word comes with a relative upside: one last chance, for a good long while, to feel like your own person.