petite anglaise

December 5, 2005


Filed under: navel gazing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:29 pm

I suppose I hoped that the act of leaving Mr Frog would magically transform me into a different, more positive person. There would be no more black cloud days. I would shed my skin, and start afresh.

When I first met Lover, caught up in that heady seratonin rush of excitement and boundless optimism, everything seemed not only possible, but blindingly simple. A bright new future was mapped out as far as my imagination could reach. I saw a wedding. Another child. A renovated ruin in the Breton countryside. A new life, far from the stresses of the capital city, a dream I’ve harboured ever since I became a mother. A chocolate box village school for Tadpole, so much more appealing than the austere maternelle on the avenue Simon Bolivar with its forbidding, barred windows and the sinister plaque which never fails to send a shiver down my spine, recounting how many of their Jewish pupils were deported during the Second World War. Lest we forget.

Everything seemed like childsplay when we hatched our plans under summer skies, walking hand in hand through the Thabor park.

A few months down the line, try as I might, I can’t ignore a growing, gnawing anxiety, a vague sensation of malaise. Is this my natural state of being? As the well-worn cliché goes, you can run, but try as you might, you cannot escape from yourself.

The hairline crack in our plans, I see with the benefit of hindsight, was the timing. I was adamant that I must wait a year or more, for Tadpole and Mr Frog’s sake, before I made any move. Time enough for us all to adjust to the new status quo. Time for wounds to begin to heal. Continuity for Tadpole, who would live in the same flat and spend her days with the same nanny until she was of an age to start school.

Time for the initial euphoria at the newness of our relationship to abate, so Lover and I could look calmly at our plans in the cold light of day and be sure that we were doing the right thing.

So here I now wait, in a limbo of my own making, increasingly aware of a creeping, subtle fear lapping like cool water around my ankles, rising slowly, inexorably up my calves towards my knees.

I lie, half submerged in my bath, eyes defensively closed, and panic. How will I adapt to a new life in the provinces, away from the city which has been my home for ten years? Will I be able to carve out a little niche for myself in rural Brittany? Will a Rennes employer have any use for a high flying bilingual city secretary? If not, what then? How long can I afford to spend looking for a job, before the funds run out? Will we really have enough to live on; to renovate a crumbling barn or farmhouse? Will Tadpole be happy?

What gnaws away at me most persistently is the knowledge of the separation I will inflict on Tadpole and her father. No more mid-week nights spent at daddy’s house. Instead, alternate Friday evenings spent in a TGV train, ferrying Tadpole to Paris, then catching a train straight back again. The same, in reverse, for Mr Frog on Sunday evenings. While I can’t conceive of staying in this city indefinitely against my wishes, purely to give Tadpole and Mr Frog the gift of proximity, I feel criminally selfish for planning to separate them in this way.

I know that I still want all those things my Lover and I talked about last summer. Desperately. Inevitably though, in this limbo of waiting, the hard realities of what I am contemplating are starting to hit home; naïve optimism is giving way to trepidation.

Seven or eight more months remain. I bury my head into the crook of Lover’s neck and close my eyes, breathe deeply. He knows me. He knows that worrying is one of the things I do best.

But I think he is puzzled, and hurt by the fact he is powerless to banish the clouds completely.


  1. it does sound like there will be lots of benefits for tadpole to offset the loss of proximity. my god, a childhood in rural brittany! some of us would give their eyeteeth…

    personally i am mesmerized by the amazing pets she could keep. ducks! … or, a goat!

    it is interesting but very odd that i have to touch your eye with the hand-cursor in order to submit this post. that is a hand gesture that means “i think you are lying to me” in italian.

    Comment by mmf! — December 5, 2005 @ 9:48 pm

  2. No matter what you decide to do you must understand that you must live with it forever and things do not always go as planned. I know this is kinda heavy, but believe me it comes from experience. I married a frenchman who moved to America to live with me and my daughter who was three at the time. To make a long story short, we decided to move to France and three weeks before the d-day, after I had quit my job and the tickets were purchased, everything was being packed, my daughter decided she did not want to move to France. She wanted to live with her father and get to know him better. I was floored and completely at a loss. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, but I kissed my daughter goodbye and got on the plane for France. I moved to France with my husband and two babies from our marriage so that she would have a mother 100 percent of the time. I cried every day for a year in the bath thinking of her. Each day she is with me. I did what I had to do. And I have to live with it. I did it because in America I was tired and worked way to many hours. Now I am a better mother and cheerish my children. My daughter is happy and we have long wonderful summers and Christmas together. She loves France and who knows maybe she will decide she wants to know her Mama better again. It is the hardest on the children.

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — December 5, 2005 @ 9:57 pm

  3. cant you rekindle with Mr Frog….? It would make things so much easier!!!

    Comment by claire — December 5, 2005 @ 10:06 pm

  4. Petite, it is totally normal to worry about these things, and the partner in this situation always feels powerless. Help Lover, and talk to him about it. In your situation, any option would present unavoidable difficulties. The worst thing you could do now is to atrophy for the sake of others, put everyone else’s needs before your own. Tadpole will, of course, find the move and the initial separation difficult; but it’s amazing how quickly children adapt, and the younger they are, the easier that adaptation. You have shown us all an incredible strength, and a touching and wonderful vulnerability. You can achieve anything you wish. We are all desperately rooting for you, and for lover, and for Tadpole. If this move to Rennes is what will make you happier, then you must do it.

    Every emotionally weighted decision must be viewed as coldly and rationally as possible, just once. You know what you want; the attendant difficulties are unfortunate, but must be an acceptable price for the opportunity to begin a new life with Lover.

    I’m sorry if that comes across as supercilious, platitudinous gibberish. That’s not the intention, but I am but young :-/

    Best wishes, always.

    Comment by Knecht — December 5, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  5. It’s only natural to think and worry about the big moves. Chin up. Keep on being the mother that you are, don’t worry so much about the future. It’ll happen soon enough and when it does, it’ll be easier. It’s the limbo that creates anxiety, as your title aptly underlines. Baby steps and keep doing little things to make the big things happen.

    The Lover is with you for a reason. As are we.

    Comment by nardac — December 5, 2005 @ 10:41 pm

  6. I’ve been lurking for some time now and empathise with the changes in your life. We are here to learn and benefit from experiences thrown at us and then like school move on to the next lessons. My ex demanded a trial separation and after chewing it over I decided there was nothing to go back for. My wife has 3 teen-age daughters and if you want a good selection of thoughts to conjure with in the quiet that takes some beating. I have no regrets, I have my soul mate but that is experience or hindsight!

    There are no guarantees. Think it through logically and reasonably but at the end of the day you have to take a deep breath and follow your inner feeling. When I did, I had no idea that we were going to end up living in France but life develops. Follow your pathway and be happy.

    Comment by Brian — December 5, 2005 @ 11:16 pm

  7. “All good things will come to those who wait”

    I feel the same … not that I’m planning on moving in with anyone, but that I’d like to move out of my city, and I’m still waiting for the right times, and also waiting so that I won’t be making irrational decisions. It’s so hard to sit still and be happy about things …

    But as long as there are those who would wait with you … it’ll be worth it :)

    Comment by Jan — December 5, 2005 @ 11:23 pm

  8. Once again, your honesty & self-revelation are breathtaking while the prose expressing these thoughts is compelling, as always. You are right to think long & hard about your intentions, with the implicit ackmowldgement that adjustments may be possible, even necessary, if only in timing? I guess too that the reality of the new life in Brittany will not be entirely idyllic. It will entail settling in to a new job (hopefully!); possibly greater financial pressures if a larger abode needs to be acquired; all the adjustment to living permanently in a larger household rather than, as recently, ‘a deux’ with Tadpole; separation from all your Paris crowd of friends, & much more…..(like investment in a bigger umbrella?)
    However, you have always come across as a person who not only has a real zest for life, & who will not tolerate wasting opportunities, but someone, also, who is able to weigh up all the options and then decide the best possible course of action and live with the consequences. I have every confidence that you will emerge from your soak and make all the right decisions if, perhaps, not all at the same time!

    Comment by fella — December 6, 2005 @ 12:30 am

  9. But, Pumpkin Pie, she is considering moving to the country, not ANOTHER country. Sympathy for your plight, but I have to pipe in here to say that I think it’s very different from the move Petite is planning to make.

    Petite, my humble opinion is that one of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is over-thinking. Making rash decisions in the heat of the moment is certainly immature and unwise, but I think over-analyzing can also be very detrimental. Try to find some middle ground–now that you’ve come down sufficiently from the euphoria, don’t wallow so much in “reality” that you completely lose the passion! You’re a good mother. But you also deserve the JOY that life has to offer. Otherwise, what is it all for? Yes, there are details to be dealt with and worked out; deal with them as they come, but allow yourself to grasp the joy that life has offered you–as you know, it doesn’t happen every day. Don’t let it pass you by when it does; you and Lover deserve to grab that happiness together.

    Yes, there are serious consequences following this kind of life decision. But there are also serious consequences to ignoring the chances for happiness that life offers us–don’t make that mistake!

    Comment by Kara — December 6, 2005 @ 12:52 am

  10. trains in france are very efficient and a few hours journey (tgv?) to the french countryside can’t possibly be too much of a deterrent (going either direction)

    Comment by mindy — December 6, 2005 @ 3:11 am

  11. “mon oeil”, I think it is in French. I’m referring to the gesture that mmf mentioned with the finger on your eye–although the french version more a pulling down of the lower eyelid the way I’ve seen it. In the U.S., you hear “my eye” when someone doesn’t believe something you’ve said, but there is no accompanying gesture to go with it. (its not as commonly heard these days, though plenty of lies are still being told here!)
    And though a slight tangent to this ‘limbo’ post, it IS odd that the symbolism of tapping petite’s eye should bring up any hint of deceit. Because it takes very little time to realize that truthtelling is a constant for petite when she writes this blog. Perhaps no angel; e.g. not above self-preserving lying to employer if necessary. But otherwise, brutally honest and soul-baring fare is presented to her readers.

    Perhaps that honesty with herself has made it too possible for petite to visit the future in her mind, to well imagine the coming pain in seeing Tadpole go through a shuttle-diplomacy with her daddy & mummy next year. My mother’s adage, “don’t borrow trouble”, comes to mind at a time like this… manage today’s trouble, and leave tomorrow’s trouble off of the balance sheet for now. I liked very much the optimism and allure of the positive side that mmf expressed in proposing all the wonderful pets Tadpole can have in the country. (I remember my first puppy before age nine, who ably did his part to soothe my disquiet when we moved 3000 miles from my childhood home.)

    Each player in the next act (Petite, Lover, Mr. Frog, and Tadpole) will go through their own private adjustments, but also forge victories alone and together over the changes. These victories they may not even realize fully until several years pass. But look for the ‘wins’, they will be there. I’ve seen it happen time and again.

    I would like to think that if petite is honest with her daughter about this crossroads in their lives, (of course within the changing context of tadpole’s ability to understand these things over the coming years) then in the end it will have been a great life lesson: that change comes, that it sometimes pains us, that we control what we can, and we endure & rise above those things we fear and can’t control, until we reach a resolution. A veritable toolbox for confronting anything can be had if you accept change as a given. Tadpole will be ahead of the game, then. I’ll wager this isn’t anything that Petite doesn’t know. In her vulnerable postings, it’s an admission of humanity to know a ‘black cloud day’. Other times, the brilliant light shows through and so, she knows pleasure the better for the pain, n’est ce pas?

    Meanwhile, the little daily joys that petite chronicles so well will be still hers, still be Tadpole’s, too. Talismans made of chocolates, hugs, first discoveries, fireworks, perhaps even ducks or puppies! (Don’t promise puppies though, unless you can pull it off……..)

    Comment by millie — December 6, 2005 @ 6:36 am

  12. Making decisions is hard enough. Waiting to follow them through adds another difficult dimension.
    You have to trust that it will all be OK in the end…

    Comment by Anne — December 6, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  13. Any decision when over analysed takes on a whole new, worrying form. Stop agonising about the future, things will sort themselves out. With Lover and Tadpole at your side anything that happens will be OK.

    Comment by Hazy — December 6, 2005 @ 9:18 am

  14. As long as you are happy with Lover then think of it as a great opportunity, how we would love the chance to relocate to the vrai campagne. What a chance, take risks, love life, and you can always come back if you want to. Paris won’t be going anywhere.

    Comment by Andre — December 6, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  15. The thing is – all great changes involve some kind of risk and as humans we sometimes feel that we want to control the risk, or is that just a Kasey thing? ;)

    If it were me, my plan would be to lay the best foundations I could with Tadpole, Lover and Mr Frog (ie Mr Frog is secure in your commitment to keep him in Tadpole’s life). Work and such things will fall into place – I know it’s a cliche, and then…..I’d take a big step……..

    and JUMP!

    You can do it Petite – if you’re like me, you just think too much ;)

    Comment by Kasey — December 6, 2005 @ 11:06 am

  16. Why is it usually the woman has to make the move? (Speaking as one who had to make one. Still not ideal but it serves; though I didn’t have to move child with me; merely away from my grown-up ones.) Of course you are going to be afraid. Which is no reason not to change; nor any reason to do so. Lover should be much more worried if you weren’t. But why is he imposing it on you and not vice versa? Just asking.

    Comment by grannyp — December 6, 2005 @ 11:08 am

  17. Well, it’s not an imposition. I want to leave Paris (I can’t really afford to be here now I live alone, and I have hankered after a garden for a long time). His children are in Brittany and he sees them on alternate weekends. So it seems a sensible place to make our base.

    Comment by petite — December 6, 2005 @ 11:21 am

  18. My late father always used to tell my brother and me, whenever went to him with a big decision we were seeking advice on, “do it now while you can”. Although not a great risk taker in his life he always worked on the premise that the worst thing would be to look back on a decision or a step not taken and wonder “what if …?”.

    Pretty much everything we do in life is a risk and has implications both for us and the people we love around us. So if you have thought it through, which is obvious that you have, then go with it. Your state of limbo and the fears associated with that are very understandable and are what most of us experience in the big life choices.

    However, you will only ever truly know if the risk was worth taking once you have taken it. Some will go wrong for sure but that’s life and we would be much poorer if everything we did always went to plan. Hindsight, that wonderful science, does tell us though that we get more right than wrong.

    Don’t let the “what if’s” grind you down.

    Comment by Philip — December 6, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  19. As a closet worrier, cogitator and planner myself I can sympathise with your plight.

    The positive thing is that you’re thinking about it all which is good!

    Life changes do need to be thought about and considered but not anxiously worried over in perpetuity, that’s the cut-off point I think.

    Comment by greavsie — December 6, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  20. Of course you are anxious but now that you have tried to look at the situation without rose tinted spectacles you still want and see the same future. In many ways it may be better for Tadpole if you make the move sooner rather than later BUT have you spoken very much to Mr Frog about moving to Brittany? If you have, how did he react? You need him on your side in this and if you can work together for Tadpole’s sake it may not be such a wrench as you fear.
    By the way have you and Lover considered living halfway between Paris and Rennes…….?
    Bon courage!

    Comment by Sandy — December 6, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

  21. Philip is right, I think.

    And looking at all the questions you ask, I’m sorry about the cliché but you only have today. What may or may not happen on some distant day in the future can surely be dealt with if and when it arrives. It’s a waste of you and Lover’s time together to do your head in on “what if”s, not to mention your energy which at this time of year, you need a little bit more of. The worst case scenario (almost)never comes true. There’s no reason why it should for you. You have everything you need here and now.

    Comment by suziboo — December 6, 2005 @ 1:12 pm

  22. I just voted – you are in third place! Not bad!

    Comment by dan — December 6, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  23. Hello Petite, I’ve been lurking for ages but haven’t commented thus far. I’m a congenital worrier too and it’s amazing how it’s possible to worry about practically anything. Things usually work out okay in the end though, and I try to tell myself to reserve the worrying for when something really bad happens. It sounds like, like me, you worry about big changes, but the fact that you were brave enough to start a new life in France in the first place suggests you actually deal with change very well. As to what the effect of your move will be on Mr Frog, only you can know, but is he forced to stay permanently in Paris anyway? One final thing: I’ve found I worry a lot less since I’ve moved in with my own “Mr Right”, and probably the same will be the case for you when you move to Rennes.

    Comment by old school friend — December 6, 2005 @ 1:43 pm

  24. PS forgive me if this has already been discussed in the comments and I’ve missed it, but can I ask about the books? Presumably these are your own recommendations, rather than just Amazon cashing in by advertising books they think an English expat in France would like to read?! If so, we could have “petite’s book club”, rather like Oprah’s or Richard and Judy’s! Can we have a bit of the blog where we all write in and recommend books, please? That would be great!

    Comment by old school friend — December 6, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  25. well, old school friend, the Amazon link is to books I’m reading (I have run out though, I bought 5 in England and read them in 10 days), but if you happen to follow the link and buy anything at all chez Amazon I do get a very small amount of cash.

    Given that I pay about £80 a year to have the site hosted and keep my domain name, I think a little advertising can be forgiven…

    Comment by petite — December 6, 2005 @ 2:34 pm

  26. #9 Kara:
    I was only trying to point out that our decisions have consequences. I am very much aware of the difference between “the country” and “a country.” However, for Tadpole it will be hard to be far from her father regardless. In the end Petite must do what makes her happy and that in turn will be what makes Tadpole happy. Maybe, I did not explain that so well the first time. But, be warned. Tadpole may one day want to live with her father where ever it is that he lives. No matter what Petite must make her life for herself because lets face it our children grow up and have their own lives. It is very hard to try to balance it all out and I understand a little what Petite is going through. And it will all work out one way or another like my own situation did. I am happier after my move to France and my daughter and I share more quality time because of my being happy. There! Did I explain it a bit better this time around.

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — December 6, 2005 @ 4:10 pm

  27. I think that if Mr Frog continues in his current line of work, he knows full well that having Tadpole full time is not an option for him. He simply isn’t available enough to be the main carer. Maybe one day, when he has a new partner, this might change. It will be up to Tadpole.

    Comment by petite — December 6, 2005 @ 4:46 pm

  28. I’ve been reading your blog for several months now but this is the first time that I’ve written a comment. I really love your blog and I always get excited when I see something new. You are a wonderful writer- humourous, touching and thought provoking.

    Thank you for giving me an insight into your life.

    Comment by Charlene — December 6, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

  29. Petite: Shortly after my dad died suddenly 9 years ago, a friend of my mother’s said to her: “It (life) will never be the same, but it can be good again.” And, it’s true.

    Comment by Kat — December 6, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

  30. All this trepidation is absolutely normal, and even good, because it means you are really thinking out all the steps you need to take in order to be successful. It’s good to acknowledge the fear, but not to let it guide you. Your plans sound wonderful; with effort everything else will fall into place. All the best.

    Comment by Caitlinator — December 6, 2005 @ 5:40 pm

  31. Sadly, worrying and over-thinking seem to me to be among the things that Mums do best. I am happily married, with two children (16 and 13), and I do it all the time. I envy people who seem able to make quick decisions and then get on with life. Still, the decisions you have made up to now have all turned out fine – there is no reason to think that this will change! Rural Brittany and a house to do up sounds just wonderful, with the added attraction of Jim (!). If it makes any difference, I say go for it!
    Oh, and Petite, I sure hope someone gets ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak for Tadpole. One of THE best books ever!

    Comment by Deirdre — December 6, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

  32. For the every other weekend visits have you thought of meeting half way, giving Tadpole to her father and then meeting half way again to give Tadpole to Petite at the end of the weekend. Just a thought.

    Comment by Quinn — December 6, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

  33. Would it be so terrible if Tadpole only saw her Dad every 2 weekends instead of every weekend? Lots of kids have a situation like that…..

    Comment by magillicuddy — December 6, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

  34. Re the books/advertising, apologies – no criticism intended at all! I just wondered if they were your choices, since I also enjoyed the O’Farrell book you had up there recently. If you want a gripping read when you’re next stocking up in England, I’d recommend Douglas Kennedy’s “A Special Relationship”.

    Sorry for temporarily side-tracking the discussion…

    Comment by old school friend — December 6, 2005 @ 6:17 pm

  35. Ok. You answered my question, Petite, in this instance. But of course it’ll be a wrench. Good luck.

    Comment by grannyp — December 6, 2005 @ 6:37 pm

  36. On this subject of the “1 year waiting period”… while I appreciate the sensible logic behind you wanting to ease everyone into the transition and to ensure you are making a big decision with your head as well as with your heart, sometimes people get so stuck on goals and deadlines and timelines that they completely miss the point. Which in this case is: the transition will not necessarily be “easier” on Tadpole or Mr. Frog after a year has elapsed. In fact, delaying the inevitable (if in fact you have decided the move to Rennes is inevitable) only makes things harder. And in the meantime you are clearly not happy living in the city any more. You don’t seem enthralled with your job. You are under a lot of stress, or at least that is the vibe I am picking up from reading your posts. Is it worth sticking out the year if you are more miserable than happy? Do the cons now outnumber the pros of staying in Paris?

    So maybe the question to ask is: if I make the move in UNDER a year, will I be more at peace with my life and less stressed? And will Tadpole benefit from having a happier maman? If you decide to wait out the full year, then do it for the right reasons but not because you initially set that as the goal and feel you HAVE to stick it out. Goals are fine but flexibility is the key. After all, life often has its own ideas and will mess with our plans; we have to roll with it when that happens and adjust as we see fit.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — December 6, 2005 @ 6:54 pm

  37. I was once in a sort of limbo of a few years’ duration. I’d agonize over what I wanted, when and if it would be best to follow through or go off on a tangential direction etc. I felt like I was stagnating…The “declic” (I don’t have accents so pardon me :)) came when the time was ripe. All the analyzing in the world didn’t help me, events rolled naturally into what was – with hindsight – the best thing for me.

    Sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow and let fate/destiny take its course…It’s nice though that you are able to recognise these feelings for what they are – many are so out of touch with what we really feel on a daily basis.

    Hopefully you won’t get into the habit of indulging in mental masturbation (sic!) about it too much :)

    Tadpole will undoubtedly adapt with ease to any novel situation as long as she is surrounded by tender loving care from all parties involved.

    I hope you feel more optimistic soon…Hugs.

    Comment by Kiora — December 6, 2005 @ 7:17 pm

  38. Petite, it gives me strange comfort knowing that someone whom I’ve never met who lives half a world away feels the same way I do. My wonderful boyfriend told me recently after one of my anxiety-driven rants about how I needed to know how he felt about me(when I know perfectly well he loves me above all things except his mother) that he thought it was his fault and he needed to be more supportive. I explained to him that if I could blame it on him, I would, but that’s just not the case. Anxiety is a connection in the brain gone awry, something genetically built in to a few of us that we have to deal with. The important thing to remember is that you have been through this before and come out of them on the other side. Everything I have ever REALLY wanted has come with anxiety that initially seemed crippling, but I have fought through, knowing that what my brain tells me is WRONG WRONG WRONG. That has resulted in my having a degree from a first class university, owning my own home, and having a marvelous boyfriend who I know I will spend the rest of my life with. Even if it seems scary for right now, it’s what my heart wants. You just have to hang on and the darkness will lift.

    Comment by Leslie — December 6, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

  39. Hi,

    First time writing, have lurked for awhile. Lovely blog…and sad. Much has been said in comments section ever since split with Mr. Frog along the lines of “you have to follow your heart,” “Tadpole will be happy if you’re happy,” etc. Following your heart can get you into a world of trouble. I think many who have stuck it out through a long marriage will tell you that there are many times when it is truly best NOT to follow our hearts, but to choose what is right (and no, the two are not necessarily the same). This, in my view, is the only way of living that leads to a truer, more profound kind of happiness or joy–the kind that sticks with you no matter what. I’m not saying that I know whether or not Petite should have stayed with Mr. Frog or what other particular choices she should make, only that the foundation for decisions must be much firmer than “what my heart is telling me to do.” As for Tadpole being happy, why, if “following our hearts” really is the ticket to happiness, should we so easily cast aside (for our convenience) what the heart of little Tadpole aches for: close, intimate, and very frequent contact with her father??
    Hey, this is a difficult situation, as these usually are, and I am not unfamiliar with the vagaries of modern life…but I thought it might be helpful to hear a different perspective.
    Regards, Nine

    Comment by Nine — December 6, 2005 @ 11:26 pm

  40. “worrying and over-thinking seem to me to be among the things that Mums do best” – not just mums, Deidre.

    Anxiety is something I know a lot about. Hence, the pseudonym.

    Moving away from a city where all my friends were/are to live in a more rural location with my “Lover” (that *so* doesn’t sound right…) is something I know a lot about.

    Living in limbo is something I’m still doing, because whilst I’m with my man every day, I’m still not where I want to be, yet.

    So I guess I’m not the best person to give any advice…

    But I think I know where you’re coming from. Hang in there…

    Comment by anxious — December 7, 2005 @ 12:22 am

  41. You poor love. I am a terrible fretter too, so you have my sympathy. I agree with what others have said about thinking too much, but it’s a hard habit to kick. In the midst of happiness I can spoil things for myself by worrying about “what next”.

    If it helps, here’s what’s happened with my 8 year old’s best friend, T. He was born and had his toddler years in the NW of England, and then his parents split up when he was about 3, in reasonably amicable circumstances. His mum met another man a while later while visiting her sister in Bath. After agonising, she eventually moved down here to be with her new man and in time for T to start school here. She, her new man and her ex all work very hard to make things as good as possible for T and IT WORKS. It does involve Friday night and Sunday night motorway journeys up and down the M5 and M6, but basically T, now 8, is loved by three parenting adults (plus grandparents, aunties etc) and he’s a happy, secure child. I love my own 8 year old being best friends with him, because they play in such a great way together.

    When they’d only just moved down to Bath, T’s mum was terribly, terribly ill and in hospital for ages. Her new man stood by her, looked after her and T, and they came through it all together, stronger than ever. So you never know what life is going to throw at you, but if you’re with the right person, you can cope with it.

    And T’s mum (who’s become a close friend of mine) and her new man got married last month. It was her second marriage and his THIRD, my God, but it was the most moving, lovely wedding I’ve ever been to. The bride and groom cried buckets, as did most of the guests. Then we all got a bit drunk and danced our socks off. Marvellous.

    So – look forward to all the good times to come, girl! Tadpole will be loved, you’ll be loved, it will give you all the strength you need.

    Now, get out of that bath, it must be cold and you must be prune-like by now…

    Comment by Helen in beautiful Bath — December 7, 2005 @ 2:19 am

  42. Helen,
    What a lovely story!

    Comment by Elle — December 7, 2005 @ 4:22 am

  43. Argh…all this lurve and advice makes me feel slightly nauseous! Hope you don’t drown in all the syrup, Petite!

    Comment by dan — December 7, 2005 @ 8:59 am

  44. In any case, Rennes Rocks!
    No WHSmith or M and S, but you can get mince pies and Chrimble Pud in Lafayette…and the rents will certainly make you feel at home! There’s a Montessori school, which is fairly Catho but our kids have a great time, with – wait for it – A PLAYING FIELD!! With TREES!! And there’s at least 6 English-speaking kids there, and a team of English United mums, ain’t there Susan??

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 7, 2005 @ 10:55 am

  45. Its interesting reading all the good armchair advice from people who i am sure mean very well. However its your life and if you need to wait 6 months, wait! sort everything out and leave with a clear head!

    While it may seem like a lifetime to wait to be with your lover, 6 months is a short time waiting for the lifetime of happiness ahead!


    Comment by anne — December 7, 2005 @ 11:59 am

  46. The Russians have a great saying “The eyes are afraid, but the hands do” A crap translation but you get what I mean.

    And there’s nothing worse than waiting!

    Comment by Hev — December 7, 2005 @ 1:37 pm

  47. Speaking as an American living in Brittany for the past three years, let me extend you a future welcome to this little corner of the country. I can’t imagine living in Paris – I come from small town country roots in the US, and I think I’d find it more alien to move to a big city than to move to a similar area of another country (I find that living here in the Breton countryside isn’t much different from my life in the US, outside of the language). This carries the implicit caution that if you are a “city girl”, you may find the adjustment harder than one could foresee (My wife knows a local woman who comes from Paris, and who is always given the oldest bread at the bakery because she has “city airs”). FWIW, I think setting the one year waiting period is just good sense, and if you’re going to disintegrate into a worry fit and back out, better to do it BEFORE you move than after! But if you do move, feel free to visit our home down south from you, in the little town of Herbignac (near Guérande/La Baulle/St. Nazaire)

    Comment by Trever T — December 7, 2005 @ 9:10 pm

  48. Recently, I followed your link (in ‘About this site’) to ‘Click Online’ and found the BBC programme about blogging very interesting……. the rest of the programme, on developments in laptops etc was also interesting, so thank you for sharing that.
    Listening to the programme, and re-reading your rationale in ‘About this site’ about anonymity sparked off some thoughts……

    Although you have ‘sought anonymity’ and explained your rationale for doing so very clearly, inevitably as your regular posts continue and the mask is gradually revealed and we have learned a great deal about you, Petite! We now have delightful photographs, we have listened in to your little one cutely singing her nursery rhymes, we know so much from your posts about your thoghts, your fears, your plans, your ambitions, working conditions, indeed your love-life, leisure activities and travels.

    This awareness comes, I hope, without any sense of your readers being voyeuristic or intrusive – mostly, I detect a very sensitive restraint by your correspondents only to comment on what you make freely available, not to pry or to be intrusive by asking for more. Nor do I believe there is any element of ‘exhibitionism’ in what you divulge to us in your blog. It seems to me rather, to be a conscious and deliberate rejection by you of the ‘guarded’ manner in which most people choose to ‘protect’ private information. You, Petite, have chosen a different way in which to relate to and engage in the universe around you, which I applaud and respect but perhaps could not easily imitate!

    To be more precise about the particular thoughts which occrred to me, there are two strands. The first is that it seems quite profound to me that through your blog we can get to know YOU more deeply and extensively than our ‘nearest and dearest’ who we may encounter daily, may have known for years or decades, but with whom we cannot communicate, or share, so well. Isn’t there something amazing about this!! Couldn’t we, shouldn’t we, learn from it too?

    The second thought is a bit more specific, inspired by ‘Limbo’ but originating from when you first divulged your relationship with your lover. Inevitably, since as you say you first ‘met’ Jim through your blog message page, he will read your posts as least as avidly as any other reader (whereas poor Mr Frog was possibly too dangerously indifferent to this vital dimension of your life?)….. but this must then mean that you now write for at least two audiences, the site as a whole but for Jim in paricular? You can talk to him when you are together, phone him, but perhaps need also to divulge to him, as well as to us, in your blog? (Perhaps there are some more constituencies with hidden codes for particular readers?!)

    Lastly, as you contemplate the changes in your working career and life-style, surely there must be readers out there who should be able to appreciate your skills as a writer, as a communicator and skilled IT user and who know someone or some organisation able to offer you employment appropriate to your skills and attributes. Your organisational skills must be very high for you to cope with the many aspects of your life and many of your comments are suggestive of someone who is ‘shrewd’ in judgement and able to offer leadwership whilst relating well to colleagues in a team? You have a great and very public CV which has no need of a conventional format …….why are the talent scouts not beating a path to your door?! Especially the ones who could offer a high paid job in IT/PR which would enable you to work footloose, live in Rennes, or anywhere else for that matter? I guess that you could do a much better job than most of the IT manageers in large corporations.

    Comment by fella — December 7, 2005 @ 11:25 pm

  49. Trever T: Funny coincidence, I’m from Saint-Nazaire :) I don’t live there anymore (currently in Canada for a few months, normally I live in Manchester in the UK) but my parents still do.

    Herbignac isn’t in Brittany technically ;)

    Comment by Amélie — December 8, 2005 @ 12:52 am

  50. oh, and that’s another thing: are you a big city girl, or a small town girl? I find this question can sometimes be wrongly answered. I’m a big city girl, that once thought she needed to escape to the country, moved to the country, and promptly fled back to the city. Just warning you (like all the other grannies laying about).

    Comment by nardac — December 8, 2005 @ 8:07 am

  51. Amélie – Yes, I know we’re not officially Breton, but try telling that to the people who live around here and in the Briére! ;) Sometimes the attitude reminds me of the folks back home in North Carolina who still insist that they live in the Confederacy…

    Comment by Trever T — December 8, 2005 @ 2:02 pm

  52. Oh, and this reminds me, Petite needs to be braced for occasional silliness from the “Breton Liberation Front”. How these goons got classed as a “terrorist group” is beyond me (I guess it goes back to that misguided McDo explosion), but today we are occasionally entertained (?) still by oddball BLF goofiness. Last summer someone had the brilliant idea to spraypaint every road and town sign in the Loire-Atlantique with the original Breton name of the cities, perhaps in hopes of confusing vacationing Parisiens (speaking as someone who must contend with August caravan drivers, they do not need further confusing). BZH graffitti is as omnipresent here as Confederate flags were back in NC.

    Comment by Trever T — December 8, 2005 @ 2:07 pm

  53. The difference is that the Confederacy no longer exists, whereas Brittany is still there. It’s not independent anymore but there are many advantages to being part of the region: Diwan schools, language, culture, etc. Some regions have a strong identity (like Britanny), others have absolutely none (like the Pays-de-la-Loire).

    There has been more problems that the McDo incident, where they didn’t intend to kill anyone (but unfortunately did). A few years ago the mayor of Le Croisic received a package with a bomb in it. It was opened by an employee, and the person was killed. That was intentional, and there has been several other similar problems.

    Comment by Amélie — December 8, 2005 @ 4:37 pm

  54. Petite, one of the best writing styles I’ve seen on the blogosphere. The subject is a hard one, and to be honest I don’t know what I’d do. Good luck, and remember that Lover will be happy if you tell him what is going on. He will appreciate the dilemna and be able to give better support…

    Comment by Pepito — December 8, 2005 @ 9:00 pm

  55. complicated
    too complicated, for me

    Comment by hera — December 9, 2005 @ 2:35 pm

  56. I hate to rain on this supportive lovefest, but the reality is that this is going to be a tough transition for Tadpole. I am not saying that Petite shouldn’t do this, but I think she’s exactly right to ask these questions and to realize that there is no choice that is going to make everyone happy.

    As both the child of separated parents and the parent of children affected by divorce, I think you have to be sure that Tadpole and her father have as much time together as they can both do, especially while she is young. When my husband and I divorced, the family counselor we saw correctly stated that our children’s adjustment would really depend on how much the non-custodial parent (in this case their father) remained involved with their lives. The commenter above who suggested reducing the visitation is well-meaning, but WRONG. It is not about what is easiest for Petite and Mr. Frog, it is about what is best for Tadpole. Given that everything I’ve read on this blog says that Tadpole and her dad are very close and that she is very bonded to him, Petite and Frog will need to stretch and yes perhaps be inconvenienced to be sure Tadpole sees her dad frequently.

    I am not saying that Petite shouldn’t move, but I am saying that the move will be difficult for Tadpole, all the well wishers to the contrary.

    And I support your one year waiting period. Take it from those of us who are long past a breakup, you are indeed wise to give yourself some time. I look back and realize I was a bit crazy for a year or so and am glad I didn’t do some of the things I thought I wanted to during that first year. Doesn’t matter that you initiated it, the separation is still tough.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — December 9, 2005 @ 5:13 pm

  57. I love Brittany but it occurs to me to wonder: if you are not yet married to Lover (and I apologise if this is covered in your archives, as I have not read all of them), how do people in the Brittany countryside view a man and woman living together who are not married to each other? I mean, “sophisticated” Paris probably cares no more than London does; but country people are usually more “conservative”. Forgive me – but I would not want anyone to feel outcast anywhere.

    Comment by RachelM — December 9, 2005 @ 7:13 pm

  58. I am an American living in France now, thanks to a very similar situation. I had unexpectedly met someone here in Annecy, though I had a house, a job, and a relationship at home. I took a year to reflect, end my other relationship, plan everything, and came. I was afraid of having regrets for coming, but what I feared most was reaching 80 and regretting not coming.

    So how did it all turn out? Well, 5 years later I am still here in France with my French partner. I have found a job that pleases me very much, and a lifestyle that suits me. Is everything perfect? No, of course not. The first year I woke up in shock quite often, terrified (but also somewhat thrilled) to realize I was really here. I still have guilty feelings about my ex and hope there is not too much hurt. I miss my family, but we visit each other often and they are coming to love their visits to France. I am still adjusting to all things French (will never figure out how they can eat long late meals with plenty of wine and not fall asleep at the table!) but am integrated into a mostly French life.

    No decision is 100 per cent right or wrong. We just have to make the best decision we can with the knowledge we have at the time, then really try with all our energy to make it work. And it usually does!


    Comment by Marla Olson — December 9, 2005 @ 8:27 pm

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