petite anglaise

November 22, 2005


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 4:59 pm

When my Lover is not with me, I sleep fitfully, work worries flitting around my head, like moths around a lightbulb. When I do manage to sleep, I migrate onto his pillows, which are impregnated with the scent of his skin, unconsciously seeking the comfort of a warm shoulder.

I wake and the winter moonlight gives no clue as to the hour. It could be hours or minutes before the alarm sounds. Reluctant to rouse myself further to squint at my watch, I lie wide awake nevertheless, mildly paranoid, as always, that I’m going to be late, that the alarm will not work at all.

Familiar knots tighten in my stomach as my mind predictably turns to the office. Will it be a neutral day, or a stormy one? Weather map symbols swim before my eyes. Where once every day was dry with light cloud and sunny intervals, nowadays there are, at best, ominous grey clouds gathering; at worst, a violent storm.

After what seems like an eternity, electronic beeps signal 6.45 am. I switch on the bedside light, ease my glasses onto my nose, and try to will my body out from under the heavy, duck down duvet. Five minutes pass, then ten. Why, oh why does a bed always feel at least ten times more comfortable when it is time to leave it?

If I strain my ears, I can hear a gentle, regular snoring coming from Tadpole’s room along the hallway. She’s as reluctant as I to wake in the winter, and invariably turns to face the wall, her sleepy, plaintive voice protesting “No mummy! I can’t get up. I’m tired!”

Today is no different. Softly I repeat her name until she stirs; the pattern of her breathing subtly changes. Curling into a foetal ball, she emits a little moan. I begin to pull on my work clothes, knowing that she will come around, in time.

Sure enough, when my head emerges from a polo neck jumper, I see sparkling blue eyes looking at me mischievously over the top of a teddy bear.

“I peeping mummy!” she giggles, as she raises herself up on one elbow.

I smile, feeling one of the knots loosening, unravelling, in my stomach.

Gathering the sleeping bag sheathed Tadpole into my arms, I sink into the nearby sofa, my face buried in her neck. Small, soothing fingers caress my neck and run themselves through my dishevelled hair. She pulls herself upright, eyes close to mine, the tips of our noses touching. Suddenly animated, she exclaims:

“Go outside and make some clouds?”

I see us in my mind’s eye, yesterday morning, walking alongside the park, our warm breath visible in the frosty air. Tadpole’s eyes were wide with wonder, and she beseeched me “souffle mummy, souffle!” over and over again. Simple things which I take for granted take on new meaning when I can show them to Tadpole for the very first time.

Slowly, in the presence of my daughter, office stress recedes into insignificance. From our exchanges I draw the strength to face my day.


  1. I can’t stop grinning. That’s charming :-)

    Comment by Knecht — November 22, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

  2. My tummy felt all warm as I read those last lines. Really lovely.

    Comment by Katherine — November 22, 2005 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Yep, you’ve done it again!

    Comment by Parkin Pig — November 22, 2005 @ 6:23 pm

  4. At least you had little tadpole home with you. It’s always surprising to me the way my little ones make me feel better about my trials.

    We love to go outside and “make clouds” as well.

    Comment by Gruntled — November 22, 2005 @ 6:33 pm

  5. Sorry the work situation is still so grim. But glad you’re finding ways to cope. Delightful writing, as ever.

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — November 22, 2005 @ 7:00 pm

  6. Don’t ask me how found this site. I don’t know. I guess it was meant for me to found it. So yesterday I started to read some of your stories and I had a very nice and warm feeling. Today’s post touches me particularly. I have also a beautiful daughter and I’m struggling with some really bad guilty feelings these days. But this is a long story and I don’t want to take too much space here. But “let’s make some clouds” had touched my heart! Thanks.

    Comment by Eau — November 22, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

  7. Sorry forgot a little “I” in my first sentence!!
    Desolée! Bonne soirée à vous tous!

    Comment by Eau — November 22, 2005 @ 7:42 pm

  8. That was a pleasure to read… I understand how you feel about work, glad you are able to find pleasure in those simple things in life,

    Comment by Chanda — November 22, 2005 @ 8:35 pm

  9. Thank you for sharing. It brought back memories of myself with my little girl when it was just the two of us. She always made me smile and see how wonderous the world was if you just looked. We forget to look as we get older and need children to help us.

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — November 22, 2005 @ 9:05 pm

  10. How is that CV going? Sounds like it’s time to find a new job. No-one should have to put up with sleepless nights at the thought of facing the next day at work even if there is a little Tadpole to wake up with you an ease the pain! Good Luck!

    Comment by Sandy — November 22, 2005 @ 9:14 pm

  11. A lovely story and I’m very jealous that it is an alarm clock and not Tadpole that wakes you. One of the little troopers always manages to beat the alarm clock to it – often by a couple of hours :(

    Comment by Universal Soldier — November 22, 2005 @ 9:41 pm

  12. Love it when you write like that, it’s the reason I was drawn to your blog to start with.

    Happy days


    Comment by Martin — November 22, 2005 @ 9:52 pm

  13. Things go up and down at work,in a fairly predictable and unhealthy pattern. Let’s just say I’m looking at my options for my last few months in Paris.

    As work has been getting me down, I’m afraid I have tended to write less often. But I am feeling a bit better now, so normal service will resume.

    Comment by petite — November 22, 2005 @ 10:13 pm

  14. What do you mean—last few months in Paris? Have I missed something?

    Comment by Small Town Diva — November 22, 2005 @ 10:26 pm

  15. What a great description of a typical morning. I always leave your blog with a strange, sweet, aching feeling in my heart. Hard to express but your words set a beautiful stage.

    Comment by BlondebutBright — November 22, 2005 @ 10:35 pm

  16. Gosh – I could do with someone lifting me out of bed sheathed in a sleeping bag each morning. It would make things so much easier, much less of a shock to the system.

    Comment by Huw — November 22, 2005 @ 11:00 pm

  17. Last few months in Paris?

    Did I miss something?

    Comment by juliana — November 22, 2005 @ 11:04 pm

  18. Lovely. Just lovely.

    Comment by Miss Lisa — November 22, 2005 @ 11:32 pm

  19. wow, thats beautiful..

    what about Tadpole and Mr Frog if you leave???? cant the lover move to Paris????

    Comment by annea — November 22, 2005 @ 11:39 pm

  20. Maybe it’s because I’m not a mom, but what does “make some clouds” mean?

    Comment by Fixed Up Girl — November 23, 2005 @ 6:04 am

  21. What a terrific post. It sure brings back memories of when my daughter was young as the smallest things can bring you great joy and sweep all kinds of sadness away.

    Comment by Philip — November 23, 2005 @ 8:21 am

  22. Have I told you lately that…you’re a wondeful writer? ;-)

    Comment by Iain — November 23, 2005 @ 8:50 am

  23. Tell that dumb F****ed Up Girl that you don’t have to be a mom to blow into the cold air and see your breath vapourised into ‘clouds’. Childsplay…..even in Ohio.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — November 23, 2005 @ 9:07 am

  24. On leaving Paris – I have long dreamt of a house and a garden for Tadople to grow up in, and now the logical thing would seem to be to move to Brittany, where my Lover and his children live, where buying a tumbledown house/barn is still pretty cheap. A 2 hour train ride from Paris, so Tadpole would have her alternate weekends with her father still, plus holidays.

    Now that I am living alone, I can’t really afford to stay in the city long term.

    Lots of reasons!

    Comment by petite — November 23, 2005 @ 9:50 am

  25. Thank you for sharing, lovely.

    I do sometimes wonder when similar feelings strike me, and make me want to stay under the nice warm duvet whether or not anyone would actually miss me if I stayed where I was and didn’t go to work, without providing an explanation.

    My guess is they probably would, but not through concerns for my welfare or whether or not I’d had enough sleep :)

    Comment by Alan — November 23, 2005 @ 10:59 am

  26. I feel bad because the first comment I made here was in response to your post on the doctor’s visit, but it was mainly because it really struck a nerve with me and I could relate to how you felt… But in fact of course much of what you say truly hits home with me, and because I didn’t take the time to say it in my last message, I just wanted to do it now: I know it has been said by many others many times before, but your blog is definitely a huge pleasure in my day, a relief/break from my own job when things get down or overwhelming, or simply when I want to get away.

    I’m not a concise or to-the-point person — I never have been! — so I tend to express what I have to say with TOO many words rather than too few, or rather than being concise. But that’s just my nature. I talk like I write, too, which is a bit scary for those who don’t know me yet! ;) But in any case, I’ve given thought to starting a blog, but I don’t know if I’d be consistent about it, and I’m so late in the game, I just don’t know if I should or not… I’ve been bad about keeping journals in the past, so would I really keep up with it now? Who knows…

    But I just wanted to say that nothing could really compare to talent like yours anyway… I have been touched by many of your posts, I can relate to a lot — including your relationship evolution; I recently went through something very painful as well, and I’ve been carrying around a lot of guilt for months, and I have a feeling I will continue to carry it around for a while until I manage to let go of it. Which is my own personal struggle!

    This post in particular brought tears to my eyes, for all the reasons that everyone here has already pointed out… I don’t have any children (dare I add “yet” here?…) and it is what I ache and dream for, I think, more than anything in the world. But I tell myself time and time again that I can only hope it will come at the right time (of course, how do we know when the “right” time is?)… I just hope that one day I will be blessed with the same wonderful gift that you have in the form of your little Tadpole. I love children in general, but I think I’ve always known that one of my greatest wishes was to be a mother. But if that is the case, I just don’t know why I seem to have put up obstacles for myself over the years…

    Keep it up, Petite (may I call you that? I know I’m new here…). You are extremely gifted, and your future is so wonderfully bright. I admire you tremendously.

    ~ Ace

    Comment by Ace — November 23, 2005 @ 11:43 am

  27. Another beautiful post petite, and let me be the first to say “bienvenue en Bretagne”! Hope you have a good umbrella….*S*

    Comment by Samantha — November 23, 2005 @ 11:46 am

  28. This post touched me really deeply.
    I think I experienced jealous, also. I don’t have anyone who turns my fears into small things… Although, I enjoy making clouds too!
    I wish all the best to both of you.

    Comment by Lurdes — November 23, 2005 @ 1:06 pm

  29. So evocative. I instantly thought of my son, and holding him close.

    And weirdly I realise I have never had to wake him – he’s the one that always gets me up. I guess that’s the benefit of late-starting work hours. But it also means I can’t remember the last time I needed an alarm clock to wake me.

    Comment by Clare — November 23, 2005 @ 2:27 pm

  30. Really evocative writing, petite. You are so good at expressing the sheer pleasure of motherhood.

    I love the way children have such a fantastic way of expressing things they don’t have the vocabulary for. My oldest son used to refer to our humidifier as a “cloud machine” because it blows water vapour into the air, and I was so disappointed when Mamie taught him the “correct” word for it…in French, too. :(

    Comment by suziboo — November 23, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  31. Quite simply Beautiful

    Comment by Ellie — November 23, 2005 @ 2:58 pm

  32. A lovely, lovely post. I hope I can have that someday too.

    Comment by Cleavers — November 23, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

  33. It’s the way she writes, isn’t it?
    So often what I feel inside (be it mother, woman, English, guilty, fun-loving etc) appears on these pages in touching prose.
    And that is the charm of petite anglaise. She manages to put it all into words. A banal expression for something that is rare and special.

    Comment by Flighty — November 23, 2005 @ 5:18 pm

  34. *blushes*

    Comment by petite — November 23, 2005 @ 7:20 pm

  35. Hey, PP…. so FUG didn’t quite get the expression about ‘making clouds’ first time round, but no big deal & certainly no need to be disparaging. Why not take your cue from Petite’s ….. much admired……literary style?

    Comment by fella — November 23, 2005 @ 9:26 pm

  36. oh dear, don’t call her fug! Are you not familiar with this site?

    Comment by petite — November 23, 2005 @ 10:47 pm

  37. Lovely as ever. And true as ever.

    In stressful times the first thing I do is kiss the OH but then crawl in bed with one of the children and start the day with them.

    Nothing makes me feel more alive.

    Comment by Laura — November 23, 2005 @ 11:22 pm

  38. Your best post ever.

    Comment by dan — November 24, 2005 @ 9:38 am

  39. Beautifully written Petite. Sory to hear that work continues to cause knots…

    Comment by Anne — November 24, 2005 @ 9:44 am

  40. sory, that should be sorry

    Comment by Anne — November 24, 2005 @ 9:44 am

  41. Nope… wasn’t familiar with the fug site, … certainly nothing derogatory intended to Fixed Up Girl…. though I suppose I should have anticipated something like it…. and now I do know, I wish I didn’t. if you know what I mean?!

    Comment by fella — November 24, 2005 @ 11:52 am

  42. Instead of “making clouds”, Kevin & Pauline pretend to blow smoke rings!

    Comment by Antipo Déesse — November 24, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

  43. Mmmmm, duck down duvet.

    I wish I had a duck down duvet, that would be great.

    This is the best post about duck down duvets ever.

    Sorry, have I missed the point?

    Comment by anna — November 24, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

  44. So nice. Thank you for that.

    Comment by schmutzie — November 24, 2005 @ 7:44 pm

  45. Le bilinguisme, il n’y a que cela de vrai, surtout à cet âge.

    Comment by Vilay — November 26, 2005 @ 12:04 am

  46. Not sure what I envy most: the lover, the toddler, or the maman…et vive les enfants bilingues!

    Comment by jez — November 28, 2005 @ 9:52 pm

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