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Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

July 04, 2018 01:13PM

Chapter Seventy-One

“We are very happy to be given another opportunity to experience this yet another time,” Isabelle said after the interviewer had begun by congratulating her. “It is marvellous to see children develop. They all have different personalities, but there are so many similarities. I always enjoy the journey.”

“And what a wonderful coincidence to have two small babies in the family,” said the interviewer, turning to Anna Margaret who was, like Isabelle, holding her son in her arms. They were seated in one of the official rooms, on a fairly uncomfortable sofa on which one had to sit up very straight and there was no chance of leaning onto an armrest or pillow for some relief. Thankfully the babies did not weigh much yet. “The births were surprisingly close together. Was that planned?”

“It was a coincidence indeed,” Anna Margaret said politely. “It will be nice for him to have a cousin of the same age.” If she had received this question in her professional capacity, she would have reacted differently, but she did not yet know how much room she would have to play. She had been invited to sit in, but how much could she really say? Isabelle knew she was not a dummy. She could not be expected to reply like a dummy.

She was not comfortable, however. What on earth could be said about babies? These babies did exactly the same things as all other babies, she bet. Or was she supposed to say how much her life had changed for the better now that she was a mother and how much she adored her son? She glanced down. He was simply there and he belonged with them, but she was not capable of expressing herself emotionally.

“Anyone with some degree of experience in natural childbirth will know this cannot be planned,” cut in Isabelle, without any sharpness. She was sounding terribly nice about the ridiculous question. “There is so much nonsense being written again these days. It was all natural. Nobody had twins and they are not secretly my grandchildren.”

“Will the boys be spending a lot of time together as they grow up?” asked the interviewer, ignoring the reference to nonsense. Perhaps he did not dare.

“They will benefit from regular contact, obviously, being the only ones so young,” said Isabelle. “They have already met, but there was not much interaction yet.”

“And who do they take after?”

“I can never see that in the beginning.”

The man turned towards Anna Margaret. “There was some speculation beforehand. Many people were certain that your child would be called Jacques if it was a boy, because of the family tradition in naming the firstborn sons. Now it’s a boy and he’s called Alexander.”


“Does he still get the other names? Albert, Henri, Frederick?”

“No, he doesn’t have the other names. We’ve only given him one name, because we’re not naming him after anybody. It would be useless to speculate on that, on which Alexander, anyway. I was aware of the practice, but I never see the value in doing something only because it’s been done before. I do what I think or feel is right. It might be the same as in the past, or it might not. I didn’t feel compelled to perpetuate this practice for several reasons.” She tried to speak as gracefully as Isabelle, who had not betrayed at all that she thought a question stupid, but she did not quite succeed.

The interviewer looked expectantly at her.

She waited a few seconds, although he clearly wanted her to elaborate. But Isabelle should have the opportunity to interrupt if she stepped out of line. No interruption came.

“The way I see it, one man suddenly named his son after himself and then told that son to name his son after both of them, and then that grandson was told by – I don’t know who was still alive at this point – to do the same. This is merely something one man came up with. We came up with something else. Apparently some people think such a tradition nice. Mostly the pater familias who came up with this idea, I suppose, because it gave him some importance. But, there are several important players whose opinions didn’t matter or who were not even consulted: all the wives and the babies. Now,” she said, feeling she was really getting into it now and unable to stop, “you cannot consult an unborn baby, but you could at least wonder if he is going to be a unique individual or if he’s going to be some sort of clone who needs to be given the same names as all men before him – who may not even have contributed to his life in a positive way.

“As for the wives, as a matter of principle I object to the fact that it’s always the woman who is expected to submit to these types of practices in the husband’s family. I have not done extensive research, but reusing the same limited number of names suggests that they were not sourced from the mothers’ families. This implies that whoever the mother was, she was just an incubator. Her background, wishes or ideas could be completely ignored. What kind of relationship is that? Where the father says, ‘okay, if we have a son, he will be named after my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and me, and you have relatives too, but nobody cares about them’. Not my thing. How could anyone think it was?

“That said, how could anyone think I would marry someone who holds such ideas? So obviously he doesn’t and it was really a non-issue.”

Isabelle had studiously been biting her lip and looking at Maximilian, who had snorted and guffawed at the speech a few times as if he quite agreed with his aunt, and she had fiddled with her dress. Anna Margaret was not sure what she was doing and she did not dare to give it more than a furtive glance. She could guess, but if even she had to guess, the interviewer and the cameraman would certainly not know. Their view was blocked by the baby’s head anyway.

“The child, with his or her partner, are a new and independent family,” Anna Margaret continued in order to keep the attention off her sister-in-law. It was good that it was always possible to find more to say on this subject. This was not a rant; this was common sense. It had to be explained, though. Some people had so little common sense. “You cannot interfere with their personal decisions to such an extent by determining all the small details of their lives. Of course you could have expectations – I am not unfamiliar with parental expectations on other fronts myself – but never could you demand or order something that is really up to your child and his or her partner. The child is fifty percent his mother’s. So his mother should have at least a fifty percent say in things that concern him.”

Isabelle spoke. “At the very least,” she said dryly.

Anna Margaret was envious of her utter absence of discomfort or nerves. One day she might be able to nurse so discreetly that no one noticed. So far, even if she managed to open the flap in her dress with ease, Alexander would bite and she would wince in pain. Max seemed to have better skills. She was still a little shocked, though, and perhaps she ought to shut up before she said something ridiculous.

The interviewer was still looking nonplussed. He had perhaps expected an explanation of why they had chosen the name.

“While traditions are our raison d’être,” Isabelle continued, her expression and composure still completely comfortable. “Times change. There are some that are either silly or outdated. We are not opposed to adapting or relinquishing them, as we have already done. I chose my own partner, for example, although I still had to be a little devious to obtain permission.”

“And are you now the one whose permission they need to obtain, or is there now complete freedom for Maximilian and his older brothers and sisters?”

“No, there can never be complete freedom. People whose beliefs and values differ significantly from our own will have a difficult time. I’d do my very best to dissuade my child, but I understand that ultimately it’s his or her decision. That said, you will not know about any partners until my children are ready to share, so you may not notice what precedes it. In the case of my brother…” Isabelle looked aside. “Well, we kept an eye on them.”

Anna Margaret was amused when she recalled several examples. “You don’t say.”

“Because their particular circumstances didn’t allow for a slow beginning it required some supervision. But…” She looked at Anna Margaret again. “…they are quite proper. And it clearly did him good. So I just let them.”

“And what will you do if you have to travel?” the interviewer asked Anna Margaret.

“That question has been asked many times,” she reminded him. “But I have a husband.”

“Husbands are very useful,” Isabelle agreed. “But nobody ever asks them what they’re going to do about the children if they have to travel. Everyone simply assumes they would leave their wife and handful of children behind and everything will go splendidly – which it will – but if the opposite happens, the wife has to travel and will have to leave her husband and handful of children behind, everybody is suddenly in a panic and wondering how this could possibly go right. But let me reassure you that it will go equally splendidly. And if I have to go away in the next few days and I’m unable to bring my son, I’ll simply leave Maximilian with Anna Margaret. Her office is large enough – I have checked.”

“Will you be returning to work fulltime then, Prime Minister?” asked the interviewer.

“No, not yet. I’m trying half days this week and then we’ll see.”

“Will you be able to do any work if you have a baby in your office?”

She glanced down at her lap where Alexander was lying quietly. “Well, he’s not interfering much now either, is he?” The only thing was that she had had to reposition him because she was getting a sore arm.

“This age is easy,” said Isabelle. “They don’t do much yet, but they do learn a lot from being close to us. That’s very important. I did this with my older children and they have all turned out very well. My eldest daughter even assisted at the birth, which was very nice.”

“Couldn’t you have requested someone who asked more pertinent questions? Although I don’t know what they could possibly ask,” Anna Margaret said after the interview. She was not allowed to go home yet. Isabelle had said that the girls needed to do some check-ups first now that she was here. Frederick and Philip had still not turned up anyway and she might as well stay.

“I didn’t have much of a say in that. I suppose I could have. But I think you threw him off balance too with some of your answers.”

“Sorry. I hope it wasn’t too much.”

“For me it might have been. You probably get away with it.”

“But did you actually let Max drink?” She had forgotten about it and when she next looked, he was asleep. She had then wondered if she had guessed wrong.

“Yes, for about two minutes until he was asleep.” Isabelle shrugged. “I’m too old to care. He would have started to wail if I hadn’t. Be practical. It works a lot better. Now where are those husbands when you need them? I’ve just called them useful, but this isn’t even coming close.”

Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

LiseJuly 04, 2018 01:13PM

Re: Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

Sarah WaldockJuly 09, 2018 10:17AM

Re: Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

LiseAugust 11, 2018 06:58AM

Re: Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

Sarah WaldockAugust 18, 2018 12:48AM

Re: Titled? ~ 71 (end?)

AlidaJuly 04, 2018 09:45PM


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