petite anglaise

June 21, 2005

new home

Filed under: parting ways — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:11 am

Tadpole and I visited Mr Frog’s new apartment today.

We filed quietly across the road. I was feeling drained from a combination of a busy day at work, the oppressive, fetid heat of the metro carriage home, and my foray into the supermarket with Tadpole to fill our empty fridge with provisions for the week ahead.

I waded sluggishly through the dense evening air. Tadpole, who had refused to be parted from her water beaker and Dora the Explorer doll, attempted to wriggle her way out of my vice-like grip at the pedestrian crossing. I fought the temptation to snap at her, because this situation needed to be handled carefully, regardless of frayed tempers, weather conditions, and my gnawing apprehension about how I would feel when I actually saw Mr Frog’s new home. Would I feel a stab of pain, or regret, I wondered, once confronted with the tangible reality of the situation? In a way, it would be a relief to feel something. Anything at all. Up to this point I have only been aware of vague sense of guilt. Guilt at my own lack of a ‘proper’ emotional response to what are supposed to be momentous events in our lives.

Mr Frog lead the way, striding ahead with a carton of assorted bric a brac that I was quite glad to be seeing the back of. I joked that I hoped he had remembered to take the electronic stapler. He laughed and whistled an upbeat tune as he walked.

Odd. When I played out this scene in my head last night before drifting off into a clammy sleep, I imagined this first visit would be a solemn, sobering occasion. So far, not so.

Along the way we explained to Tadpole that daddy would be living in a new flat soon. Mummy and daddy would each have their own homes, and Tadpole would would now have two. Sometimes she would stay with mummy, other times with daddy. She was to have her own bed and toys at daddy’s house too.

She nodded, smiled and proclaimed triumphantly “[Tadpole], elle a deux bedrooms!”, which we took to mean that she had understood perfectly. We didn’t complicate matters with hows and whys for the time being. It simply didn’t feel necessary.

As she raced around the empty, echoing apartment and I dutifully admired the stunning views of the Paris skyline, I was overwhelmed with relief. Relief that I liked the place, relief that I could conceive of Mr Frog being happy there, and that I could already see Tadpole pottering happily about in the flat with him in my minds eye. But also relief that I didn’t feel a pang of jealousy or regret that this wouldn’t be my home too.

Mr Frog detailed what he planned to buy from Ikea at the weekend, and I suppressed the urge to express opinions about how he should decorate. After all, this is his space, and it needs to feel like his, not ours. It’s not easy to break the habits of eight years, but needs must and I bite my tongue.

Meanwhile, my flat (well, strictly speaking our flat, although it feels more mine with every box of Mr Frog’s belongings that crosses the threshold) is in a state of flux. Things are shifting, standing meekly by waiting for their turn to be stacked and sorted, before taking a final bow and exiting stage right to take up residence over the road.

Mr Frog himself hasn’t gone anywhere yet, as he is awaiting the arrival of kitchen appliances and successful execution of the Ikea mission. On Sunday he will relinquish his keys and spend his first night in his new home, with Tadpole by his side.

With every passing day we edge a little closer to this separation we have been discussing for the past month, expecting to feel worse than we actually do.

When we get home, I check the stationery drawer.

And note, to my amusement, that Mr Frog has left the stapler in my custody.


  1. That’s exactly right – “elle a deux bedrooms”. One of them actually tends to become home, but which one it is often changes over time, and as long as you feel that you’re free to visit the other one as often as you like, there really can be no downside to avoir deux bedrooms.

    Best of luck.

    Comment by Trixie — June 21, 2005 @ 12:42 am

  2. It’s so hard, finding that you must entrust him to other places, things, and people – then realizing a split moment later that you can’t.

    Comment by Charm — June 21, 2005 @ 1:13 am

  3. Hello one and all- as I seem to have arrived just at the start of today’s comments box, please allow me (with Petite’s permission) to announce a competition just like the one we’ve all just enjoyed on here, over at my site- to celebrate its one-year anniversary.

    You know the drill: nine questions about my life and times (there had to be nine, obviously..), multiple choice- prize for the winner! Go on, give it a shot…

    Right, announcement over- you can all start commenting on Petite’s latest now!

    Comment by jonathan — June 21, 2005 @ 1:52 am

  4. so, that makes me first to comment today! I’m honoured :)

    Just a quick one though … I think it’s lovely that the Tadpole will spend the first night with Mr Frog in his new flat … that’s all :)

    Comment by Miss Lisa — June 21, 2005 @ 3:29 am

  5. I’m glad that tadpole appears to be taking it in her stride and that you seem to be handling this with great maturity. It’s hard, I hope things will sort out good for all 3 of you.
    Take it easy.

    Comment by Andy — June 21, 2005 @ 4:43 am

  6. What a relief that this situation is panning out fluidly and without major interruptions from any party, mm? Courage (and I love your writing, as always).

    Comment by ludivine — June 21, 2005 @ 7:29 am

  7. Seems like it’s going as well as one may hope. Best of luck with the transition.

    Is it my imagination, or have you used a picture of a lock and key as the header of an earlier post?

    Comment by janna — June 21, 2005 @ 7:31 am

  8. Seems to me like you’re all doing amazingly well. I’m impressed!

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — June 21, 2005 @ 8:02 am

  9. Seven and a half years ago my husband and I parted ways after ten years of marriage and did our best to stay friends. Our son has reaped the rewards of that as he now transitions into being a great teenager. He has four parents who love him :) and whilst it hasn’t always been an easy path to walk we both agreed that we didn’t want our son being a ‘victim’ of divorce.

    I followed the link to your journal from a friends and was delighted to read that you all went together for tadpoles first visit to her Dad’s new home ..little stuff like that makes a huge difference to kids.

    I really hope that as the years pass you can maintain that committment to her well being .. as somebody who has travelled that path before you, I can encourage you that it’s worth it .. am I reminded at times why I’m divorced … oh yes. Am I pleased I’m not married to him… oh yes. Will I always care and love (not in a romantic way) the father of my child .. oh yes :)

    Good luck with your journey!

    Comment by annakiya — June 21, 2005 @ 10:23 am

  10. i join the chorus, you seem to be coping very well. I noticed that Mr F’s first night away he will take Tadpole with him, and thought perhaps this might be when you start really getting it, as suddenly you’ll eb all by yourself, good luck!

    Comment by trine — June 21, 2005 @ 10:30 am

  11. You can get Dora the Explorer dolls?

    Comment by David K — June 21, 2005 @ 10:51 am

  12. From the age of fourteen i had two homes but i still count my dad’s house as home. There were 16 miles between homes which was frustrating as a teenager as it always seemed whatever i wanted to wear was in the other homes wardrobe. At least my parents still talk though and it’s not 16,000 miles.

    Anyway, what i’m trying to say is sometimes it’s a real pain having two homes but it sounds like you are close by and that’s got to be good for Tadpole. I hope it all works out for you.

    Comment by Victoria — June 21, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  13. I agree with Zinnia, it must be easy for two people to descend into petty squabbles in your situation, but you two seem to be handling it with the utmost maturity. It can only make things easier for tadpole. :-)

    Comment by Lee Morris — June 21, 2005 @ 3:45 pm

  14. And note, to my amusement, that Mr Frog has left the stapler in my custody.

    Not, I hope, in a bowl of jelly ;-)

    Comment by Iain — June 21, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

  15. Busy mothers’ tip n°1 : do your main grocery shopping on internet. It beats going round Franprix with a toddler. is very good.

    Comment by Mancunian lass — June 21, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

  16. ha ha!

    *petite drifts off into slightly saucy daydream about cutie Martin Freeman*

    Comment by petite — June 21, 2005 @ 4:42 pm

  17. Busy mothers tip n° 2: do your man shopping on the internet…

    Comment by petite — June 21, 2005 @ 4:51 pm

  18. So… you bought Martin Freeman on the Internet? Blimey, e-bay, eh?

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — June 21, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

  19. Hmm…… at IKEA,……dessert wine with the main course,……..lack of appreciation,… I can see where it all went wrong….. but this aversion to his electronic stapler??…..unless,of couse,it’s to ‘mark’ his territory. Anyone know of a home for unloved electronic staplers?

    Comment by Fella — June 21, 2005 @ 9:40 pm

  20. I’m surprised that by now any of you girls has expressed any interest for a newly available Mr. Frog… I suppose he can’t be all that baaaaddd!!

    Comment by jacques — June 21, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

  21. Something about that last line, the stapler left behind, made me melancholy. I don’t know about you, but it made me think about a sort of fondness that comes only with the end of a long love story, a slight bitterness of a story finished. I hate it when stories finish, especially about staplers.

    Comment by nardac — June 22, 2005 @ 3:35 am

  22. I understand how it feels – my children are now proud of the fact that they have ‘two homes’. Bonne chance, ma petite.

    Comment by JAG — June 22, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  23. I’ve had an idea…why don’t you all come and live with me? I could do with some excitement in my life and to have the daily soap opera that is the petite experience played out in my own home – now that really would be something to tell the neighbours about. Let me know what you think…?

    Comment by Mavis — June 22, 2005 @ 1:54 pm

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