petite anglaise

May 31, 2006

dislocated

Filed under: navel gazing — petiteanglaise @ 3:53 pm

I keep getting this unnerving feeling of dislocation. As though I’m looking down from far above, contemplating myself going about my daily business with an unhealthy degree of detachment.

It’s like an experiment. Or some sort of test. The aim is to place myself in interesting, unexpected situations, pushing against my own boundaries, moving further and further away from the rather mundane, pedestrian life I led when I first started writing petite anglaise; all the while this other me quietly observes from afar, furiously scribbling, recording anything noteworthy.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am living my life, or whether this blog is living it for me.

How much are the decisions and choices I make affected by the fact that I will not only have to live by them, but, more importantly, will feel compelled to spin webs of words around them afterwards? To what extent can feelings, whether of pleasure or of pain, become artificially intensified by the very fact of groping for les mots justes with which to pin them down? Does the act of dissecting thoughts and motivations bring me closer to some sort of truth? Or, conversely, adulterate it so thoroughlly that I no longer know my own mind?

I suspect the fact that Tadople has been waking me at 6.00 am every day this week has thrown me off kilter. I’m tired. A little low. Vulnerable to an invasion of creeping, insidious doubts and prone to self-indulgent navel gazing. It’s just the way I am.

But let me pose a question to fellow bloggers all the same: do you think that writing your blog has changed you in any way?

May 28, 2006

quality time

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 2:45 pm

“I want to play with the patate modeler,” says Tadpole. I fetch the box of playdoh, somewhat relieved that she has actually expressed a preference, as opposed to her habitual “mummy, what can we do now?”

It has been a four day weekend of one-on-one quality petite and Tadpole time, and I am almost at my wits’ end.

Thursday: awake at 9.30, go for Chinese restaurant lunch with daddy, then purchase €15 garish pink scooter in a Chinese bazar, treasure trove of cheap tat which never fails to delight my daughter. Tadpole refuses to nap. Make oatmeal and raisin biscuits together. Find marzipan hiding at back of kitchen cupboard and make little apples, pears and bananas with clove stalks. Tadpole dresses as fairy, I spend many hours wearing both rabbit ears and tiara.

Evening: watch “Brokeback Mountain”. There follows very pleasant dream about (heterosexual) cowboys.

Friday: awake at 6.15, feel out of sorts and grumpy all day. Buy gift for friend’s newborn baby, and hair clips for Tadpole (which she leaves in supermarket mere moments later). Burn last two pieces of bread when making toast for own lunch as Tadpole naps. Hop on métro to visit Tadpole’s playmate (who, after five minutes, exclaims “mummy, I don’t like this girl”). Tadpole’s revenge: does a wee in playmate’s Wendy House.

Evening: watch season 2 finale of Lost. Say little prayer of thanks for Bittorrent.

Saturday: awake at 8.30. Realise at 10.30 with sinking feeling was supposed to be at meeting at Tadpole’s future school – half an hour ago. Blind panic! Tadpole senses note of urgency in my voice, and actually complies immediately, fetching coat and shoes. Arrive at school, meeting over, but instead have one-to-one chat with future headmistress, arguably preferable to missed meeting. Eat couscous royale and chocolate nice cream in local café. Mummy’s friend Elmer comes to “play”, bearing many flavours of melt in the mouth macarons. Tadpole does poo after bath!

Evening: Mummy surfs on meAtic and chats with seemingly wholesome young photographer, who proceeds to email portraits of himself a) covered in fake blood, and b) wearing ball gag and blindfold. Mummy decides against accepting to star in his next short film project.

Sunday: awake at 4.00 to sound of Tadpole shouting “mummy! I did a poopoo!” Change nappy, return to bed and, amazingly, Tadpole sleeps on until 10.00. Baby swimmers class however begins at 10.15. Dash to swimming baths, arrive, panting, at 10.25. Swimming baths closed, due to water temperature being few degrees too cold. Retire to Café Cheri(e) for coffee and juice. Visit adventure playground and picnic on pain au chocolat. Once home, comply with playdoh request. Tadpole goes surprisingly willingly to bed for her sieste, but can still be heard singing “Ride a Cock Horse” as I write.

Six hours ’til Tadpole’s bedtime…and celebratory Mother’s Day gin and tonic.

May 24, 2006

chocolate

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 8:55 pm

Tadpole makes a bee-line for the scales, and has to be hoisted forcibly into a chair by my side. She fiddles with a huge tome on the table in front of her. The doctor, visibly stressed, barks “don’t touch that!” with uncharacteristic sharpness.

I sigh, and begin explaining Tadpole’s little problem. I have barely finished my second sentence when Dr Freud interrupts me.

“… faudrait plutôt consulter un pédopsychiatre pour ça!”

I freeze, hackles rising. A child psychiatrist? She can’t be serious, surely?

The doctor notes my disbelief, but continues, regardless. “Well, you have been having problems of your own lately, and she could be picking up on them…”

Perfect.

Because what I really needed right now, apart from an anally retentive two year old who manages to hold everything in for ten whole days before I am obliged to resort to desperate measures involving suppositories, is a doctor who says that this is clearly my fault.

“I was thinking more along the lines of using a mild laxative medecine, and trying to talk to her about it myself,” I say firmly. “It’s really quite common at this age, isn’t it?”

This problem pre-dates any of mine, we simply didn’t realise how bad it had got. The point being that the nanny assumed she was going at home. Mr Frog and I assumed she was going at the nanny’s. Only when Tadpole stayed with mamie and papy for two whole weeks did the extent of Tadpole’s determination to withhold become apparent.

The doctor examines Tadpole’s tummy, seeming satisfied that she is not in any pain. She hands me a prescription for medecine, as requested, and then a second piece of paper, upon which she has scribbled the address of the child psychiatrist.

As we leave the building, I scrunch up the paper with my free hand, and drop it into the nearest dustbin.

“Right,” I say to Tadpole. “Mummy is going to buy some Smarties. And you can have three, next time you do a poo in the potty.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

May 22, 2006

bien dans ma peau

Filed under: navel gazing, single life — petiteanglaise @ 11:31 am

I move slowly through the park, my steps perfectly in time with the music filling my head, hair buffeted by squalls of wind. The asphalt is coated with a thick layer of pale pink blossoms; the tiny flowers drift, confetti like, from the trees, into my hair, onto my shoulders. I flick at them, absent-mindedly, lost in my thoughts.

A year ago today, I wrote a post about leaving the father of my child. Re-reading those words now, it almost feels as though they were written by someone else. I suppose, in some ways, they were. The woman who wrote them had been sleepwalking for the longest time. She knew her life wasn’t making her truly happy – and writing this blog had helped her come to this realisation – but was terribly afraid she did not possess the strength to break away, start a new life. She was beginning to see the light: that being a mother didn’t have to mean burying her own personality, her own needs, deep inside; denying their very existence. That way only bitterness and simmering resentment lay.

There followed a turbulent year of dizzying heights and desolate lows, filled with an intensity I would never trade for a return to my old life. Out of the ashes of the relationship which ended in March stepped a woman who has finally learned how to feel comfortable in her own skin. Who has understood, at long last, that being alone can make a person feel more whole than being one half of an ill-matched couple.

Out of habit, I still lie on the right-hand half of the bed, rarely straying over the invisible line which divides it in down the middle. But I no longer sleep fitfully when there is no-one by my side. And the nightmares have left me.

I move slowly through the park, buffeted by the wind, music filling my head. And realise I am smiling at no-one in particular.

May 19, 2006

dancing curls

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 11:59 am

“Look mummy, the trees are dancing,” cries Tadpole. Her curls, which I painstakingly combed only moments earlier, are blowing in all directions. Sometimes I wonder why I bother trying to make her look presentable. Her hair is always unruly; her sleeves inevitably covered with felt tip pen, or worse, if there are no tissues to hand.

“Yes, it’s very windy, isn’t it,” I reply, prosaically, wishing I had something with which to tie my own hair back. It whips across my face, gets tangled in my glasses.

“The wind is like music, it makes everything dance!”

To illustrate her point, Tadpole waves her arms, as though they were branches.

I smile to myself, thinking that if she can manage to conjure up poetic little similes every day, I’ll be able to sprinkle them liberally across my blog, and take all the credit.

Bad mummy.

May 17, 2006

sleeping with ghosts

Filed under: mills & boon, parting ways — petiteanglaise @ 11:15 am

I think we both knew, or at least suspected, from the moment we agreed he should come to Paris and see the concert with me, that no-one would really be sleeping in the spare room.

However ill-advised it might seem, in theory, to see the person who had cast me adrift only two months previously, I knew I was ready. I still love him, granted, but in a completely different way. Whenever I think of what might have been, and wasn’t, I am, quite simply, overwhelmed with relief. Relief which is admittedly tinged with a little regret at how uncommonly compatible we were in some ways I now miss.

When the time came, I was an adrenaline-fuelled wreck, so preoccupied with other worries that I didn’t have time to get excited, or nervous, or both, at the prospect of our meeting.

All I wanted that night was to feel his familiar, strong arms around me. To be taken outside of myself, even if it was just for a few short hours. To share something precious, without incurring any guilt, any pain. To be soothed by the sound of his slow, regular breathing at my side. To be lulled into the first good night’s sleep in a week.

In the morning, before we parted, there were comforting echoes of our old routine: tea, toast and marmalade.

He told me he felt absolved in some way; as if a weight had now lifted. We acknowledged that we have both moved on, but continue to care deeply about each other. There was no awkwardness, no inequality. No sense that one of us was clinging, desperately, to the wreckage, wanting something more.

Only one thing made me feel mildly uncomfortable: at times, doubtless because I was so strung out, I was painfully conscious of a separation of mind and body.

A nagging feeling that I had succeeded in appropriating for myself the very detachment I recently observed, with regret, in someone else.

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