petite anglaise

April 9, 2006


Filed under: good time girl, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:08 pm

The teeth-grittingly cheerful chime of my mobile phone (Mr Frog laid claim to the alarm clock, and the coffee machine, and I haven’t got around to replacing either) awakes me from a deep, dreamless slumber and I groan theatrically, playing to an invisible audience.

Thankfully I didn’t overdo it the night before, limiting myself to a couple of sedately sipped cocktails with a new friend; heading home soon after the clock struck midnight. This morning sees the return of the Tadpole, after a week long holiday spent with her grandparents in Besançon. Moderation was a necessity: I will need my wits about me today.

A family of moths seems to have taken up residence in my stomach, and I realise to my own amazement that I am nervous about being reunited with my own daughter. Not only are my nerves jangling, but I am also aware of a unpleasant, needling sensation of guilt. The fact is, I pretty much forgot Tadpole’s very existence this past week, slipping effortlessly back into the skin of the girl I used to be, long before she came along. I became re-acquainted with this long lost me, a girl who followed her every selfish whim, who threw on her party clothes and headed out on the town with no fear of having to deal with both a toddler and a hangover the morning after.

How I cherished every second of my temporary freedom. First, there was Nice. Leisurely meals and long drawn out evening drinks, all the while shooting the breeze with my traveling companion, who I now consider a firm friend. Hours spent hypnotised by the gentle tapping sound of waves against the pebbly shore, the sun teasing my cheeks, as I searched patiently for the smoothest, most perfect pebble to take home in my pocket. Not glancing at my watch, living to no-one else’s agenda. Upon my return to Paris, outings to bars with friends, to the cinema, an evening at home with boy plus take-away sashimi, and all that it entailed.

I hadn’t telephoned Tadpole during all this time. Not once.

I justified this neglect to myself by saying that as she doesn’t really show much interest in phone conversations, it can be a somewhat frustrating, pointless exercise. Took shelter behind the excuse that it still feels rather awkward speaking to the ex-in-laws. But the truth of the matter was that I simply wasn’t missing my daughter, and feared that if I did call, that might change. Dared not risk tainting my enjoyment of the here and now.

So here I am, catapulted back from a carefree parallel universe into a weekend of full-time motherhood. On the menu: an Easter egg hunt in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, a baby swimmers session, lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Belleville en tête à tête (our new Sunday ritual, involving much hilarity with chopsticks). Possibly some finger painting, if the weather is inhospitable. Pleasures of a radically different kind.

It’s not that I prefer one state to the other. Simply that being petite the single girl one moment, then petite the mother the next takes some adjusting to. I now live two parallel lives, which rarely overlap.

The appointed hour is close, so hastily I wash the scent of bar smoke from my hair, remove the traces of last night’s makeup from around my eyes, take a deep breath and head out into the street.

As I thrust my keys into the pocket of my jeans, my fingers close around a smooth pebble.


  1. you always write so honestly, but I think that this post sums up in a way that I can’t articulate, why your’s is the first of the blogs that I read that I check for a new post… …it must be time that Petite gives us an update I think, what is happening in her world?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Jabberwock — April 9, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  2. However much you love your child, it’s still good to be you every now and then . Feel no guilt. Oh and he took the coffee machine, what a pig.

    Comment by Sam — April 9, 2006 @ 10:08 pm

  3. I have experienced the same duality, the same exhilarating feeling of freedom, along with the same guilt (X 2, as I left not un tétard, but deux crapauds behind), until recently, coming back from a short trip on my own: I realized that I had missed them, they had miss me, each in our own way; but the beauty of the whole thing was the bliss to be together again. Being apart for a while made us feel how good it was to be together. No arguments for at least 2 days, no fights about taking the bath or doing homework. And an overflowing of bisous, at any moment, just because.
    I felt I had stored enough patience, being on my own, with no claim for my time or attention for a few days. My new rule is: I have to take care of myself, and only myself, from time to time, so that I can better take care of them, all the time. I am going to have myself a glass of wine, right now, to reinforce that statement.

    Comment by Lola — April 9, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

  4. I think it sounds very healthy to periodically detach yourself from the “mother” persona and remember who you really are as just YOU. Being Tadpole’s loving mum is only one part of who you are, albeit a major part. But there’s nothing wrong with having the “single” petite again for a while. It sounds like you really enjoyed that little holiday from motherhood.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — April 9, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

  5. I have felt this way off and on for most of my life as a mother. When the children come home and inquire about my weekend I can rarely tell them the truth. I tell them I was “knitting” instead. They are old enough now to get the joke but, I am also old enough now to be happy doing things that can be told to teen-agers. No more clubs and random men; now its recipes, restaurants and good friends. I almost forgot what it meant to me until I read your post. Thanks for the lovely reminder so thoughtfully written.

    Comment by chantel — April 9, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

  6. Sometimes I would KILL for a week away from my little girl. And I hate the society that makes me feel guilty for feeling that way. Maybe it’s just me, but full-time besotted motherhood is just NOT natural.

    Comment by Paola at 'mirror mirror' — April 10, 2006 @ 1:55 am

  7. There’s a third “me” – the one that appears at work… where I am neither miss tickle the single girl nor miss tickle the mother… but someone else slightly different again. Unfortunately, it’s the single girl that doesn’t get much time to play as the other two take up so much time and energy. Not that I’d give the other roles up completely but I cherish the time I get to be just me!

    Comment by miss tickle — April 10, 2006 @ 2:03 am

  8. I’d kill for just a weekend to just be myself. sometime.

    I keep a live bookmark set to Petite’s RSS feed on all of my computers so I know when there’s a new entry. I’ve been hooked on her story and style of writing for a long while.

    But not in the stalker kind of way…

    Comment by Gruntled — April 10, 2006 @ 5:05 am

  9. A firm friend indeed! Well you can bet your bottom dollar he’s firm. What with having his pebbles tickled and teased (with no strings attached). He must be as hard as a rock at this stage.

    Oh, I am sorry, had forgotten I’m barred, but one does get a bit carried away here in the laboratory at times. Had better be off, to torture a rat or something

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 7:31 am

  10. Remembering who you were is vital to your growth, both as a woman and as a mother. Visualizing who you will be relies upon the faith gained by such spiritual excursions.

    As for this business of “laying claim to” the coffeemaker,you are a better woman than I,
    Petite: my M.Grenouille would have been found on the kitchen floor,taking a temporary respite from consciousness…a caffeine-deprived Cuban
    makes “le chat qui s’a brulee les pats” seem tame by comparison!!

    Comment by Belle — April 10, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  11. Trevor has been sniffing his chemicals again, I see. But not paying attention as I keep saying that my friend in Nice was a LADY.

    Comment by petite — April 10, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  12. Aw, go easy on the poor troll, Petite – his chemicals are the ONLY things he gets to sniff!

    Comment by Belle — April 10, 2006 @ 7:43 am

  13. Yawwwn! The sychophants mean well, but do admit it Petite, they must be a little bit tiring at times?

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 7:54 am

  14. We all have different personas that we use at different times – there is nothing wrong with being the good time girl and enjoying it…….bravo I say!

    Comment by Kasey — April 10, 2006 @ 8:14 am

  15. *whispering*

    maybe a little Trevor, being subjected to all that comments box rimming can be an exhausting business

    Comment by petite — April 10, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  16. Tut tut, now we’re on to rimming!
    Surely you meant to say (pebble) skimming or does this refer to a post-sashimi activity?

    Comment by Parkin Pig — April 10, 2006 @ 10:44 am

  17. Miss Tickle and Kasey are right about different personas and what I suspect is your triplicity if you count work. Be glad that you are in such a wonderful city where you can play out those roles, theatrically.

    Although I don’t have the parent role, sometimes my private and professional worlds intersect, as is more frequent in a provincial city, making me wish I were in New York or Paris.

    Comment by Lost in France — April 10, 2006 @ 11:31 am

  18. Surely ex in-laws become Outlaws?

    Comment by Z — April 10, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  19. I learned a new dirty word on this site today, and another dirty word on Friday.
    Better still, by looking up the dictionaries, I learned of the dirty concepts denoted by said dirty words.
    I’m becoming a fan, a very firm fan.

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  20. Trevor, may I suggest you pay “girl with a one track mind” a visit. Might be right up your street.

    I’m currently enjoying the contrast between the tone of my posts and the contents of my comments box rather a lot.

    I imagine my mother may be wishing she hadn’t recommended the blog to her friends, however.

    Comment by petite — April 10, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  21. OK, I’ll go then, but you’ll see, you’ll miss me.
    (I would if I were you)

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  22. Re comments box
    Why is there no English word for double-entendre? After all it plays a much larger role in British humour than in French, but then again…Benny Hill(!)

    Comment by J — April 10, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

  23. Just before I go.
    I looked it up. All I can say for the moment, however tentatively, is that its a dirty word. So I’m not really interested to tell you the truth.

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

  24. A POX ON IT! I meant “not a dirty word”,

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

  25. I love Trevor’s idea of what is a “dirty word”. I think he lives a rather sheltered life and all this banter over the last couple of days has rather got to him.

    Comment by Hazy — April 10, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  26. Right, now getting back to your post…definitely don’t let petite the single girl go. When I became a mom I was consumed with my daughter. I let every single bit of who I was “before” fall away, and it led to a lot of inner turmoil, dark feelings, doubts, and escapist fantasies later on. It is vitally important to know who you are, what you like to do, and whose company you enjoy apart from your role as a mom, and your post indicates that you’re doing well in this regard. Bien fait.

    Comment by LJ — April 10, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  27. So this women walks into a bar and asks the barman for a double-entendre. So he gave her one.

    Comment by Jabberwock — April 10, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

  28. trevor I think you need a blog. ;)

    Comment by Tongue in Cheek — April 10, 2006 @ 3:58 pm

  29. Another great last line :-)

    Comment by Iain — April 10, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  30. Enjoy it Petite. It’s one of the few fringe benefits single moms get—an occasional chance to indulge in a few days of utter freedom.

    Tadpole is and will be just fine. It’s good for her to spend time with other family members and for you to get some needed R and R.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — April 10, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

  31. congratulations for your blog lost in france, or lost in heaven…. googd luck for u

    and 22 big up for clara,

    just here (in french).

    Comment by le blognoteur — April 10, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  32. how is one to wake up without the help of an alarm or coffee? I’d be in trouble, and always late.

    Comment by JSP — April 10, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  33. Your sense of guilt is sweet, endearing, but also insanity. The best mothers can – perhaps even are – the ones who can just forget about their Tadpoles when they’re out of sight and in the safe hands of their grandmothers.

    When you forget Tadpole AND forget to house her at her granny’s – now, there’s a time to be racked with guilt Until then, you’re simply having a little break from it all :-)

    Comment by Puplet — April 10, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

  34. ooh am so jealous – I wish I could have a parallel single girl life…

    Comment by kjr — April 10, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

  35. Seems you’re just establishing what’s going to be your priority lifestyle, and how to manage it. Hold on tight to that pebble. You’ll know what’s important, for each occasion; be instinctual and don’t let anyone bully you about these choices xx

    Comment by fjl — April 10, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  36. I really amn’t feeling too well. It’s just that, I wonder sometimes, do people not meet each other normally anymore, like while out hostelling or ballroom dancing, instead of in comments boxes? I once met a very nice girl on the tennis court, but that’s another story.

    Comment by Trevor — April 10, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

  37. A while ago I went too long without taking a holiday from work. Eventually, of course, I got round to taking some time off. It was only once I had done so that I realised how much I needed the break. Not only was that long time coming holiday great fun, but I was happier, and more effective, at work upon my return.

    Why wouldn’t it be the same with motherhood?

    Comment by Miss Nomer — April 11, 2006 @ 12:00 am

  38. I think mothers get a bad rap for enjoying child-free time. Since I separated from my husband, I’ve been able to go out on the nights he has the kids. I enjoy it. Why not? This idea that whatever we do, we should do something else (with regarding to the self vs. child duality) is someone one would likely rarely hear a man say. More the pity for them, and yet we should make sure we enjoy down time.

    Comment by foilwoman — April 11, 2006 @ 3:01 am

  39. I was going to write something thoughtful, but with all the dirty words being thrown about I forgot what I was going to write. Damn glory hole!

    Comment by Holly — April 11, 2006 @ 7:59 am

  40. Trevor,
    You are very amusing to read but please try to pay attention…

    Petite did not meet boy in her comments box…

    Comment by croque madame — April 11, 2006 @ 9:32 am

  41. Shhh, am listening to the Wimmin’s Hour on Radio 4.

    Comment by Trevor — April 11, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  42. What a refreshing post Petite; makes me remember that I, too, am someone other than ‘Maman de….’

    And you forgot one thing about being away from the wee’uns for a while – how they take your breath away when you rejoin them and think ‘Wow – they have grown/changed/altered somehow’.
    I know when I get mine back from Irish Granny, I am refreshed enough to appreciate them more. Usually the gloss lasts about a day before I begin shouting again..;-)

    All relationships need space…..and that includes Tadpole Time (and Twin Time for me).

    Comment by Morbihan Princess — April 11, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

  43. Thus, a trip to Nice for its famous pebble beaches, a kind of search ? To watch for, seek, sort, compare, and finally select the stone which will loyally accompany you in the months to come.

    A hard stone to recall sweet moments he withdrew, a smooth stone to help you endure the blows? To exteriorise your petrified heart? Or to testify to his stony heart? One or the other? One and the other? The large dark stone for his, the small white stone for your?

    Comment by coutho — April 12, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  44. I don’t have a little tadpole to think about am sure yours will benefit from having a maman who knows her own mind and, now and again, lives her own life. Love the way you write.

    Comment by jj — April 15, 2006 @ 8:40 am

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