petite anglaise

June 29, 2005

part-time mummy

Filed under: parting ways, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:07 pm

I know I probably shouldn’t write this out loud, but I’m rather enjoying the prospect of becoming a part-time mummy.

Since Tadpole was born, two years ago, my life has been a relentless whirlwind of activity: caring for baby/toddler, delivering her to childminder’s flat, dashing to work, working, and then the same drill, in reverse, at the end of the day. My evenings began at 8.30pm, when Tadpole went to bed, but these were spent caged in our apartment, resentfully waiting for Mr Frog to put in an appearance. Hence my rich virtual life, which filled the gaping void in my offline world.

I can count the number of evenings where Mr Frog was able to relieve me of my duties, allowing me to go out and meet friends for dinner, or attend a blogmeet or whatever it might be, on the fingers of two hands. On those occasions where I did manage to escape for a few hours, I invariably arrived late and frazzled, in a hastily ordered taxi, because Mr Babysitter rarely arrived at the appointed hour.

So, castigate me for being a bad mummy if you will, but I confess I am looking forward to having a social life on the evenings when Mr Frog will pick up Tadpole from the childminder’s and she will spend the whole night at daddy’s house. The very idea of being able to go out for a drink after work, on a whim, meet friends, or even just do a spot of improvised late night shopping, once a week thrills me. Separation, it would seem, has its advantages.

Then there are the alternate weekends… Not only will I no longer have to wend my reluctant way to pay a duty visit to the in-laws every couple of months, but I will now have entire child-free weekends at my disposal. Weekends where I won’t have to get out of bed at all until I’m good and ready. Weekends where I can hop on a train, with an overnight bag, and fall into my lover’s waiting arms. Space to breathe, the luxury of time to recharge my batteries. Time off, during which I sometimes allow myself to forget, albeit briefly, that I ever became a mother. An illicit pleasure, only slightly diluted by vague pangs of guilt that I shouldn’t really feel this way. But I do, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Secure in the knowledge that she is in the safest hands after my own, and confident that she is happy spending one on one time with her daddy, my conscience is clear. I miss Tadpole, when we are apart, but I appreciate her tenfold when we are reunited.

I’m tempted to speculate that as a part-timer, I may even make a better mummy.


  1. It’s true what they say.. absence makes the heart grow fonder. :)

    Comment by the insider — June 29, 2005 @ 4:10 pm

  2. THAT is a STUPENDOUS post. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve never wanted to be a parent at all – but some people still seem to think I am in some way deficient as a result. I expect you’re right that there will be some castigators further down your comments box. But as for me, I commend your honesty. (And, as always, your writing abilities.)

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — June 29, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

  3. See, every cloud does have a sliver of lining!!
    I get my couple of nights a week. Some nights, it is just enough to have a hot bath and a cup of tea alone and go to bed for ten hours sleep…mind you, I have a few years on you. It will be very comforting to know that she is just across they way from you and that she is safe, loved and perfectly okay there. Have fun!!

    Comment by Bella Ozfemme — June 29, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

  4. Zinnia – I think I’m a glutton for punishment really, being as I’m more interested in exploring the things I feel almost guilty about feeling, like a child worrying away at a scab.

    I’m sure I’ll get the comments I deserve!

    Comment by petite — June 29, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

  5. Chouette! What an upside! :-)

    Comment by ludivine — June 29, 2005 @ 4:40 pm

  6. Ah Petite, I love this post. As one who never wanted kids, it always makes me feel more human when one of my childed friends admits that the little offspring are a lot of work and you do have far more time without them.

    Plus, I daresay this will be a delight for Tadpole to be the center of Daddy’s attention for a time with no Mummy to distract him or her.

    Comment by Teleri — June 29, 2005 @ 4:51 pm

  7. Petite, I love love love your honesty. Don’t we/ haven’t we all feel/felt like this? But how many of us dare admit it? Small children are the most wonderful, the most fascinating creatures in the world. But can’t they seem sometimes the most boring? I swear we weren’t meant to be like this… in earlier societies, I suspect, childcare was shared. It’s only ours shuts us up alone with our offspring and makes us feel guilty if at times it does our heads in? Of course being free it do our own thing sometimes is lovely. (In my own single motherhead, suddenly offered free weekends I felt bereft at first, surrounded by merry family parties… didn’t take long to appreciate the joy of the days available just for me.) ENJOY.

    Comment by grannyp — June 29, 2005 @ 5:02 pm

  8. So, Mr Frog is going to pick up the Tadpole from the childminder a couple of evenings a week. But in the last two years, he’s hardly ever managed to get back from work in time for you to go out. I can’t quite understand how he couldn’t do it for you, but he *can* do it for the sprog. Ah! Hold on! Oh, I see! Beginning to get a clearer picture now.

    – Tony –

    Comment by Tony S — June 29, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

  9. No, you’re not supposed to say those things out loud, but I’m glad you did. You’ve hit on why it is that so many “mommy bloggers” have such rich virtual lives — it’s so often the only life left to us. I too suspect being a “bad mummy” would make me a better one. Enjoy.

    Comment by Isabella — June 29, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  10. Dirty little secret: Everyone I know who has young offspring needs a child-free break from time to time. An evening every other week, plus one or two full weeks a year is a minimum, I think.

    That’s what grandparents and babysitters are for…

    Comment by ontario frog — June 29, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  11. That did give us some inkling of why the relationship wasn’t working but don’t go there. It’s all in the past now. It really pisses me off that the greater part of childcare still falls to (or rather on) women. Don’t feel at all guilty. The one on one time will be good for Tadpole and some say that when fathers are closely involved with their daughters they grow up to be more athletic and more confident about their appearance. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because men are more likely to run around the park with their kids like giant labradors.

    Comment by Bathsheba — June 29, 2005 @ 5:30 pm

  12. Just beware of the last minute v.-busy-in-important-job-can’t-make-it phone calls. Pick a day and stick to it. Have other plans.

    Comment by annie — June 29, 2005 @ 5:31 pm

  13. Well said…I’m with you all the way and can fully empathise. Enjoy.

    Comment by Muse — June 29, 2005 @ 5:48 pm

  14. This latest post is very interesting to me, having been through a split where 2 children were involved, then meeting and marrying someone new and having 2 more children.

    A couple of things bother me – I’m sure I read one of your posts where you said it was work which kept Mr Frog away so much in the evenings. Was this or wasn’t this really the case? It’s easy to use work as an excuse to avoid the childcare – I think I’d rather stay at the desk than look after the kids if I could! However, if he really needs to work so hard, how is this going to change? Will he really be able to do his share of the evening stuff? Especially as the financial pressures will now be greater (2 flats/3 lives).

    I don’t want to put a dampner on your enthusiasm but I know from experience it’s a long hard road you’ve taken, it’s not all roses.

    Comment by Tony — June 29, 2005 @ 6:02 pm

  15. I make the most of the times when my boys aren’t at home and often crave these moments. By the end of the day I can’t wait to see them again.

    Comment by Greg — June 29, 2005 @ 6:08 pm

  16. Oh Petite… if you’re happier, then of COURSE you’ll be a “better” mummy! Less harassed, less exhausted, more joyful. Nothing “bad” about that :-)

    Comment by Julia — June 29, 2005 @ 6:12 pm

  17. I wonder if the people who chastise you have any memory left of their own childhood. I do, and I remember how sad and unhappy I was when my parents were together, I could feel the animosity between them even when it was kept quiet and the only way I could cope with that, was getting migraines (at 4 years old) When my parents separated, my life changed dramatically. I enjoyed spending time with both of them again, separately; and I even grew very close to my dad’s girlfriend and well liked most of my mom’s boyfriends. I’m a firm believer that when there is love and respect, a separated family can be much better for a child than one that stays together unhappily. Kids pick up on so much more than we think (or remember). By making yourself happy, you transfer that happiness onto your child. From your posts I get the feeling that you and Mr Frog are doing a great job. You’re very brave.

    Comment by Steph — June 29, 2005 @ 7:01 pm

  18. I have been a part-time mom for many, many years. It took me some time to figure out what to do with myself but, once I got the hang of it I really did well. I do relish “my” time and I do think it does make you a better parent when you take time to do the things that fulfill your life outside of your children. Have a great time.

    Comment by Lucy — June 29, 2005 @ 7:07 pm

  19. Nice idea. I suspect you will be more likely to find that its a case of full-time mummy, part-time lover, and much the better for it!

    Comment by fella — June 29, 2005 @ 7:18 pm

  20. I am crossing my fingers that Mr Frog’s motivation to spend time with his daughter is not a good intention which will diminish with time, and that a recent change at work will mean help him strike a healthier life/work balance. Of course I dread those phone calls – which is why I have said he must pick her up from the childminder and not from my house (where I might end up waiting, waiting, bathing Tadpole, waiting, reading a story and then giving up and putting her to bed).

    Of course I’m not going to go into my reasons for leaving here – the childcare issue was only the tip of a sizeable iceberg, because a decision like that cannot be taken lightly…

    We’ll see.

    Comment by petite — June 29, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

  21. I’m sure you have very solid reasons, you don’t seem the type of person who would do something lightly, especially something which could have such an impact on your daughter.

    The very best of luck and I really do hope it works out well for all of you.

    Comment by Tony — June 29, 2005 @ 7:44 pm

  22. Ooh, I knew I was going to comment just as soon as I read the first sentence of your post, because today I was just thinking about the same thing.

    I will envy you on summer evenings such as tonight, being able to dawdle on a cafe terrasse with a cold beer and not have to get home for baths, tea and tucking in.

    Sometimes I wistfully think of my old life when I could actually meet someone for an apero in that magical time slot between 6pm and 8pm.

    And when I could spend more than 10 minutes getting ready to go out.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — June 29, 2005 @ 8:55 pm

  23. haha, the “evil” Petite is coming out of the closet… Quite charming ;)

    Comment by schuey — June 29, 2005 @ 9:44 pm

  24. This post makes me even more grateful for a husband who does give me that needed time for myself, be it an evening, an afternoon or an entire weekend. The imbalance with Mr. Frog seems symptomatic of a relationship headed for trouble.

    My next door neighbor with 5 children is in the midst of a divorce. I can’t imagine how much SHE looks forward to their daddy-days!

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — June 29, 2005 @ 9:48 pm

  25. This is a brave & honest post Petite – you never cease to amaze!

    Comment by Nicnu — June 29, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

  26. Glad you’re not feeling guilty cause you deserve some time to yourself. I’m proud of you that you’ve done this. I know many a woman out there that are too scared to leave a relationship they know isn’t right.

    Comment by yayaempress — June 29, 2005 @ 10:45 pm

  27. am secretly jealous! have fun!

    Comment by kjr — June 29, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  28. sounds reasonable to me … having just spent the weekend with almost two year old nephew whilst his parents pack up their house to move – myself and youngish grandparents EXHAUSTED … enjoy your ‘time off’ – I’d say a well rested, happy, and refreshed mummy will indeed be a better mummy :)

    Comment by Miss Lisa — June 30, 2005 @ 12:57 am

  29. This is my first comment, but I’ve read for a spell now. Just one thought: you’ll never be a part-time Mom. You might be on duty part-time, but you’ll never do your Mommy thing just part-time. And that’s an important difference that makes it so that Tadpole will get nothing but the best that you’ve got to offer. It’s good to take care of you and in doing so, you’ll be better ready to take care of your child.

    Courage to you!

    Comment by Cloclette — June 30, 2005 @ 1:41 am

  30. Reading this post has made me wanna pack up and separate from my husband – and I don’t even have one anymore!!! :-)

    I remember so well that wonderful liberating feeling of being my own woman again that I felt soon after my separation became “official” – 9 years ago.

    Thank you for reminding me.

    Now go – play – rediscover – enjoy!

    Comment by Miz Penny — June 30, 2005 @ 4:50 am

  31. I do wonder how many relationships break up because the woman is expected to shoulder the entire parenting burden. Why not be a single mum, if you’re already playing the role? And in fact, if the father chooses to have visitation rights, things actually can improve.

    Where’s the incentive to stay in a relationship, if the only way you can share parenting is to walk out the door?

    No one wants to be taken for granted.

    Comment by /anne... — June 30, 2005 @ 7:33 am

  32. Would you look at that? A guilty-feeling petite, baring her soul, being candid and brave, waiting for the backlash which never came. Everyone feels the same way! Who’d have thought it?

    Last night I woke up 5 times to attend to babies and toddlers. In the early morning (we both go to work, wouldn’t you know) my husband told me he had heard none of it, and I quote “I slept so well, I must have been really tired”. Now I can admit my fantasy to all Bad Mummies : it involves going as far as the hotel down the road, booking in for 48 hours and informing reception only to put through Grade 1 emergency calls.

    Comment by Flighty — June 30, 2005 @ 9:37 am

  33. Hurrah!
    We’re all the same – HUMAN!!
    Thankyou, Petite, for letting us all have an outlet for a bit of honesty about motherhood! Seems like we all needed it!
    I wonder though how many women actually go to work to escape childcare…I get the feeling that here in France this could be more the case than in U.K, with creche at 3 months old…I know there’s often a necessity (financial etc.) but I’m sure it’s not the whole story. I spent 6 years full-time mum/housewife before starting work in August last year, and it was WONDERFUL; it was like starting to live in the adult world, quoi. Then the guilt set in – ‘I prefer work to my kids??’ but it’s like grannyp says – we must be the only society that expects parents to be perfect in every way while at the same time having no contact or support from the outside world…
    After all, we’re women, not just mothers, right?
    Best wishes from cool and breezy Rennes ;)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 30, 2005 @ 10:11 am

  34. Well said!
    I spent a week away from my girls last year while I took some exams (a me-project in itself), and when I came back they looked different somehow. They weren’t of course, but being reunited after a short absence made me see them briefly through a stranger’s eyes, not as my ex-babies, but as the children they have become. It made me appreciate them a thousand times more.

    It didn’t last, of course. In fact I think I’m due some time off…

    Comment by Susan in Rennes — June 30, 2005 @ 10:48 am

  35. How fantastic to find someone who feels the same way as I do about this? Even while I was pregnant I realized that the ideal set-up would be to have some sort of child-share (like jobshare but with babies…) so that I didn’t have to completely abandon my life for the next 18 years.

    Comment by Nicole — June 30, 2005 @ 11:28 am

  36. I DREAM of having an entire child-free weekend. It’s happened maybe 7 or 8 times in my entire 11 years of being a mother. If I could have regular time off I could plan to use the time wisely instead of making myself dizzy with the sudden freedom!

    Comment by Antipo Déesse — June 30, 2005 @ 11:30 am

  37. I admire your honesty, and let’s face it, society wants you to feel guilty for having such ideas, but the reality behind that is, I think, that everyone, unless they are living in some dream world, must have those thoughts at one time or another. You were just brave enough to say them out loud. As much as I love spending time with my 11 month old son, practically each morning upon that cry at 7 am, I have a twinge of resentment for not being able to sleep in. We are all selfish to some degree, it is human nature, and it would be abnormal to not want to do things for ourselves. Great post!

    Comment by Andie — June 30, 2005 @ 11:35 am

  38. It’s funny how most of the male commenters are silent on this one. You’ve certainly struck a chord with all the women tho’, particularly the mums.

    The men obviously aren’t concerned by this topic ;)
    I’ve noticed they tend to react more when you write about lovers and flashing your cleavage accidently at work !

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — June 30, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  39. as a mother (married and with the main responsibility for my child) I commend your honesty and can only say I totally know what you mean. Well, I do, except, I don’t. I don’t have the freedom you are referring to, and although OF COURSE i wouldn’t want to be without my daughter, I sometimes feel (guiltily) that certain things would be so much easier without her. Like going away for an academic conference, joining my husband on one of his, popping out for 2 hours on a wednesday night.
    Thanks for this post!

    Comment by trine — June 30, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

  40. I havent read the comments so sorry if Im repeating. Dont mean to be negative but just wondered if you should be cautions of what you write in case things ever got litigious. Maybe I’ve just watched to much crap tv.
    Enjoy being in love and thanks for your wonderful blog

    Comment by Claire — June 30, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

  41. I don’t know why you should feel like a bad mommy at all. Being a good mommy also includes being happy, and taking some time for yourself. It’s funny though, that it’s easier to have time for one self once we’re no longer with the fathers of our children. In any case, just be careful that Mr. Frog does actually take care of Tadpole and doesn’t simply let her lie around…

    Comment by snowgaze — June 30, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

  42. Hi Petite, I’ve just been referred to your blog and I see I’ve wandered in at a very interesting time for you. Relish your new-found Parisian freedom, for it was hard-won and will be worth it. Kick up your heels and enjoy the nights off!

    Comment by Gab — June 30, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  43. By the way, we are all (well, myself and Fella for a start) waiting with bated breath for the story about Mancunian lass. Whatever can it be?

    Comment by Flighty — June 30, 2005 @ 3:53 pm

  44. Im not sure about baited breath, I can wait a little longer, but in response to Mancunian Lass’s observation about the absence of responses from male respondents, I confess to belonging to the male species and, yes, have been pondering….. do you think that Jim has formed a menage a trois with Susan and Lucy-Jane, all in Rennes?

    Comment by fella — June 30, 2005 @ 4:17 pm

  45. Maybe all the men are feeling guilty for not fulfilling their side of the parenting/household duties?

    I sat down and looked at the division of labour in our household.
    Washingclothes- me
    Washing up- me
    Ironing -me
    Vacuuming- me
    dusting- Me (well, erm, sometimes :) )
    shopping- 50% me alone, and 50% of time we go together
    cooking-me 90%- when I dont want to do it – we get takeaway or go out to eat
    cleaning kitchen and bathroom- me
    Make cups of tea- him.
    we both work full time by the way, on very similar salaries, and all our money is shared.

    Our baby’s still on its way, so lets see what happens when there’s childcare to add to the list too. Any guesses?

    I love him dearly, but after 11 years, I’m never going to get him to change.

    He is actually better than when he was a student- he doesn’t leave stuff ALL over the floor from wall-to-wall anymore, except around his PC.

    wonder why I’m always the tired one?

    Comment by Joy — June 30, 2005 @ 5:43 pm

  46. As a damn near perfect parent in a second marriage this male hasn’t commented so far because he’s not guilty as charged and also has a perfect understanding and sympathy for PA’s feelings.
    I’m just wondering how long she will be content to restrict time spent with Mr Newman to the odd weekend.

    Comment by Parkin Pig in shorts — June 30, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

  47. Reading your last posts has made me feel a bit sick inside. Why, I wondered? It’s not disapproval. Then I realised. It’s jealousy.

    Good on ya.

    Comment by suziboo — June 30, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

  48. “baited” breath ? Does that mean you’ve got maggots under your tongue ? Sorry, just being pedantic.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — June 30, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

  49. Could be!……They could come in very useful if my next holiday is a cruise along the Manchester Ship Canal. Perhaps you might come with me? We could meet up behind the gasworks and take the long way round? But you would have to promise not to be TOO pedantic!

    Comment by Fella — June 30, 2005 @ 11:06 pm

  50. As someone about your age still debating whether I even want to become a mother or not (right now, the take is “if it happens, it happens” but doing nothing to make it so), it’s good to hear honest viewpoints about parenthood. Thank you.

    Comment by jin-ah — July 1, 2005 @ 2:48 am

  51. I look forward to my one night off a fortnight… but so far I’ve only found the energy to collapse in front of the telly to enjoy a nights totally uninterrupted viewing!

    Comment by Sarah — July 1, 2005 @ 7:40 am

  52. menage a trois – less cleaning.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — July 1, 2005 @ 10:21 am

  53. I would like to add a Hear Hear to what Steph said:

    “I wonder if the people who chastise you have any memory left of their own childhood. I do, and I remember how sad and unhappy I was when my parents were together… I’m a firm believer that when there is love and respect, a separated family can be much better for a child than one that stays together unhappily.”

    Absolutely! When I was a child, I could see plainly how unhappy my parents’ marriage was. I actually remember telling my mother – when I was eight years old, yet – that she should get a divorce! But sadly, she didn’t actually get a separation until I was 16. How I wish we hadn’t all suffered together for an extra 8 years of misery.

    You and Mr Frog being on friendly terms, and your ability to experience joy in life once more, are all Really Good Things for Tadpole. I am happy for you.

    Comment by Julia — July 1, 2005 @ 10:24 am

  54. how sincere you are petite.. i love it..feel like i am to talk to a close friend.

    anyway mr.frog’s attendance is quite understandable: human nature..u need to push up things to make it happen+ you need to believe “first” that everything is possible(then u will see that u organise just better)

    Comment by banu — July 1, 2005 @ 3:07 pm

  55. Go for it and be happy! This won’t make you a bad mum, like you said, it might make you a better one, with more time and attention to give your daughter. Live every minute like it’s your last!!!

    Comment by Flavia — July 3, 2005 @ 6:43 am

  56. Sometimes I wish I was a part-time parent. Whenever I do have a night with him away (that I usually have to pay for) I suffer for it the next day.


    Comment by Jen — July 4, 2005 @ 2:52 am

  57. oh how normal you are!!
    i would have been very disapointed if you had said otherwise!
    remember those “messenger” mothers!! scary
    if i spent 24/7 with my two they would have been taken away by the social services along time ago!!!
    Have fun

    Comment by mary — July 4, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

  58. hmmmmm…. w.e.e.k.e.n.d. o.f.f.
    I can’t even imagine it. Mine haven’t had a night without me ever.

    I see the world going by out there and I can’t even get a baby sitter to go out with friends for an evening… see a concert, a film, an exhibition… everything I do on my own has to fit it in the hours they are at nursery school/creche or they come with me.

    make the most of it, petite… you are lucky… and of course, a happier mummy is a better mummy (and by the sounds of it, a euphorically in love mummy too)

    Comment by vit — July 4, 2005 @ 8:33 pm

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