Dear Natalie

Girl, since the last time I wrote one of these, the sheer number of babies-of-friends has well-nigh exploded. Your Aunties Marah and Manya have each had second children in the interim (sorry I didn’t get right on those entries, Luke and Kayla), and then a bunch of my non-Key-Girl friends had kids too, one right after the other, and now my social life very often involves holding a baby or kissing a baby or talking to a baby or hurriedly returning a baby to his or her parent when he or she begins to scream the scream that one screams when one is dipped naked into a tank filled to the brim with hydrochloric acid, tarantula spiders, and scratchy wool sweaters, even though all I did was make a mildly scary face and whisper “The NSAaaaaaaaaaa…is tapping your phooooooooone…” in the baby’s ear.

I have to say I kind of like being around all the kids, even though I’m not always very good with them. At first I thought it would be annoying, because…and I mean no offense by this, as I’m sure you are scintillating…babies are a little boring, not to mention worryingly messy, to those who don’t have one of their own. Fortunately for me, the women I know who have recently become mothers are uniformly fantastic, and it stands to reason that they would extend their excellent qualities to the pursuit of motherhood, which is great to see and makes hanging around quite a lot of fun. I don’t know how they do it, frankly. I’m not very good at delaying gratification and subsuming my needs to the needs of others, and any parent will tell you that those are the first thing you have to learn, with a baby. Plus I am fond of sleep and of not being vomited upon, so the fact that you get a lot less of both of those things, that you sign up for them, is a little hard for me to wrap my mind around. I do, however, like visiting with my friends and their kids, and I have even been known to sing a couple of rounds of Baa Baa Black Sheep or play peek-a-boo or whatever the hell.

Natalie, maybe this is too much information since I don’t really know you and I won’t even meet you for another year and a half at the earliest, but I’ve decided not to ever have children, myself. This was not a big fanfare-y thing; it’s just sort of worked out that way. I guess when I was in my early twenties I’d think, when I thought about it at all, that maybe someday I might, just because that’s what most people do. As I got older and to a stage in my life where having children was at least a theoretically possible thing, I began to think more and more that parenthood would not be something I’d be good at (see above: inability to delay gratification, low tolerance other peoples’ bodily fluids), and that from being a default maybe someday sort of situation, it’s gone to an actual decision, a choosing not to. Mostly I feel really good about it because I prefer to let experts handle all the really hard things in life, although sometimes I wonder if that decision to remain childless secretly means that I don’t have it in me to love unconditionally, the way parents must. And sometimes I really do wonder if selfishness is at the bottom of all this, anyway. (Of course, on a practical level it’s not as though I’m in danger of being impregnated any time soon, if you know what I mean, which of course you don’t, because you are only four days old and there will plenty of time for that when you graduate college, young lady.)

But, yes. No kids for me. No descendants for me, I guess, is the better way to put it, because in my heart of hearts I really do hope I can be a good auntie to you and to the other Key Girl kids, and to all the kids of all my other friends who have been procreating with such style and grace (and enthusiasm, it must be said). When I was a little Chiara I had a lot of non-parent adults in my life who were really important to me and helped me to raise me right, and I wouldn’t be so close to approximating normality today without their love and support. Probably no one has told you this yet, sweetness, but it’s pretty rough to be a little (and not so little) girl sometimes and I just want you to know that there are a lot of people in the world who love you so so much and who want to help you grow up to be awesome. I have been learning, lately, that it’s pretty much a full time job to be awesome, but you have a very good start because you have the parents that you have. I’ve known your mom for a very long time (your dad for slightly less long) and I can assure you with no compunction whatsoever that you’re in great hands. In fact, there are a lot of hands outstretched to you right now, right as I’m writing this I bet, all wanting to lift you up and hold you in the light, full of hope and gladness for the fact of your long-awaited existence.

Looking forward to meeting you in 2007,

Love from Auntie Chiara


  1. I think maybe I cribbed from your letters of this sort quite a bit when I wrote my Dear Newborn Babies but I promise that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Big love,

  2. Dearest Chiara, Thank you for your sweet words. I certainly have my doubts about being a mother right now. Thank you for your support. You are a true friend and already a great auntie.