Dear Aunt Gertrude,
Thank you for your recent email. I’m glad the rash is slowly improving, and yes, isn’t the price of stamps outrageous these days.
We are all very well, since you ask. Bob and I heeded your well-intentioned warning that having two children is ‘dreadfully bourgeois’, so two weeks ago we welcomed our third child, Kafka, into the family. He is thriving well and already a great sleeper. I took the kids out shopping the other day, only to come home and find little Kafka still asleep in his cot! Which just shows that you were spot on in saying that babies need to learn to self-settle from an early age. Thanks for the tip about converting the roof space into a nursery. You were right, the sound of Kafka self-settling is much less of a distraction now that he is up there.
As I know you don’t approve of stay-at-home mothers, you’ll be please to hear that I have already gone back to work full time. I have landed an excellent position as the Head of Human Resources with the Israel Space Agency. This does mean that I have to spend my working week in Tel Aviv, but on the plus side the kids get to spend quality time with their father every day before and after his 10-hour shift at work. The other day, I thought I overheard Bob muttering to one of his friends something about not having the time to scratch his arse, so between you and me, Aunty, I don’t think he fully appreciates what modern fatherhood is all about. Anyway, Greer, now 4, and Proust, 2, have become well trained in making their own breakfast and getting themselves and their baby brother onto the bus to daycare on those mornings when Bob has to work an early shift. I’m so glad I took your advice to instill an independent and self-reliant ethic into the children from an early age.
I know you are one for intellectual activities, so you’ll be reassured to hear that I manage to fly home from Israel every weekend, which gives me plenty of time to engage in educational outings with the children. Only last Saturday, the children and I enjoyed a delightful trip to the Museum of War. We all found the displays incredibly enriching and informative, not least Proust, who ran up and down the exhibit room screaming and waving a toy rifle, which I think all the museum visitors agreed was a powerful and moving rendition of the storming of the beaches at Gallipoli. Out of the mouths of babes, as you would say.
Aunty, I do remember you once telling me that motherhood would drive me insane unless I exercised my brain regularly, so to this end I have begun studying towards a PhD in Ethno-ornithology. It’s just for fun, really, and the 250,000 word thesis I am writing, provisionally entitled Me, My Bird, And I, is hardly literature, but it keeps me entertained and flexes those little grey cells you are always on about.
Greer seems to have caught the writing bug from me recently and has been busy penning haikus which she plans to self-publish towards the end of the year. I’ve reprinted one of her most recent ones here:
Thunder fills my soul;
An impromptu gust of wind:
Beans for lunch again.
Thank you, Aunt Gertrude, for all your words of wisdom over the years on the subject of how Bob and I should bring up our children. We feel eternally indebted to you for your guidance. For someone who never had children of her own, you are certainly an expert on how other people should raise theirs.
P.S. Dear Aunt, none of the above is true. Bob and I still only have two kids, and have no intention of going through the newborn stage ever again, thank you very much. Even with two, I have not returned to work, and some days don’t even get out of my pyjamas.
I am not studying towards a PhD, and certainly not contemplating going back to work until I can look in the mirror without bursting into tears.
Greer is not writing haikus, although she may one day become a celebrated graffitti artist, if the state of our lounge room wall is anything to go by (note to self: keep all Sharpies in the bath tub. It is the only place Greer has an almost pathological aversion to).
The most educational outing I have engaged the children in recently was a trip to the local library, which ended rather unhappily when Proust stole the librarian’s glasses from her desk and ran around the building screaming, before removing his nappy and pooing on the carpet. Needless to say, I posted our outstanding library books back to them rather than step foot in there again.
“Perhaps, if you weren’t so busy regarding my shortcomings, you’d find that I do possess redeeming qualities, discreet as they may be. I notice when the sky is blue. I smile down at children. I laugh at any innocent attempt at humor. I quietly carry the burdens of others as though they were my own. And I say ‘I’m sorry’ when you don’t. I am not without fault, but I am not without goodness either.” — Richelle E. Goodrich, Author