We’re at the pointy end, or as the Germans called it, die Heiße Phase. The hot phase. Crunch time. Mum is flying in in three days. The baby is supposed to fly in in nine days (and does not have permission to arrive before Mum). I am not doing any flying because I am the size of a house and lack any grace or lightness of foot, so instead get around like a – well, like a human being gestating another human being. This is the part of pregnancy where two things happen; you begin willing the child to evacuate the premises, because things are getting really tight in there and you’re not sure how things like digestion are even happening. But, simultaneously, you experience the horror realisation, after gadding about for 38 weeks with a little buddy in tow, that you have to actually get the little buddy out.
What has worked as an excellent distraction, has been the sudden, bombastic arrival of spring. May hit the switch, and that snowfall of two weeks ago feels like it never happened. We’re on something like a week straight of days over 20 degrees, deliciously warm sun, bare arms and feet. The water pumps at the playgrounds have started up again, and the kids are beside themselves with wet, sandy, muddy glee. Die Lüdde manned the Schleuse (floodgate) yesterday, making sure it was always the opposite of what someone else wanted it to be.
After a few days of warily sending their kids out in Softshell suits, hats of medium thickness, and coats of sunscreen, the Germans have relaxed into this glorious weather and done away with the suits and jackets. The scent of sunscreen hangs richly in the air, and the sunhats are serious things, with neck flaps and all, but thank Christ the kids are allowed to bare some skin, if not absorb any health benefits from the sun.
These long, warm, light days relax and loosen everything and everyone. After a long winter of being bunched inside a jacket, and hunched against the cold, it is like people unfurl. And being super pregnant means there are some rules that die Lüdde is getting really good at bending because she knows my energy levels are being used for something else apart from parental follow through. (Wily little things, toddlers, aren’t they.) There is a lot of ice cream, a lot of long afternoons at the park, a lot of heading tantrums off at the pass with a cheery, ‘what about a Rosinenbrötchen!’. On particularly adventurous days, there is even some playground hopping, bouncing from the one with the fountain to the one with the basket swing (again, namely to head a tantrum off at the pass … pushing her in the beloved bloody basket swing for twenty minutes is infinitely better than the full body twisting and shrieking alternative). Things are easy when the sun shines. You bust out the door in thongs and a dress and from that moment on, it’s like anything goes. Your feet get dirty, your nose gets pink, you end up with pavement chalk in really strange places, and dinner is more often than not a really quick salad or take away or, you know, ice cream – and it is so, so, so wonderful.
And at the same time, I am accutely aware of how different this picture will be in a short couple of weeks. How there is a number on these particular days. The same nostalgia that coloured the weeks spent waiting for die Lüdde, is starting to cast its light over the present. I can feel it. I can feel it as surely as I can feel every elbow and knee and hand and foot of this little guy who is biding his time, waiting to come out and join in. These afternoons at the park, with one determined little boss, and one pair of sandy little feet dangling from the swing, will change, like things always do, and we will all recalibrate, readjust, like we always do.
For now, anything goes. That nostalgia, it doesn’t feel intrusive or sad, it feels permissive and gentle and warm. We are loose and barefoot – and, for die Lüdde, 90% of the time she is at home, quite simply bare; the sun is warm and the ice cream cold and these days, these spring days, they are golden.