I live just outside of Paris, France.
I am American and grew up in upstate New York, where I attended a small state school. On a whim, I decided to study abroad in Avignon, where I contracted “the travel bug.” From college, I moved to Taiwan for a year, then Manhattan for a year, to Paris for a year, back to Taiwan for another year, and finally back to Manhattan where I traveled to Asia regularly on business and then met my husband. We took a year’s sabbatical in East Africa before having our daughter and moving home. (His home, that is, now mine).
So I feel like I’m from a bit of everywhere.
What language(s) do you speak?
I speak English, of course. I speak French fluently with a slight accent and lots of charming grammatical errors that endear me to my French listeners; or at least that’s what I like to tell myself. I speak enough Mandarin to translate for the woman whose granddaughter attends the same music theory and classical dance classes as my daughter at the Conservatory. This is accomplished with much sweating and firsthand comprehension of what it’s like to grow senile and forget words. I once spoke a little Somali, which is harder than Chinese, but I didn’t live in Hargeisa long enough to have it stick.
I know how to say, “Ah, so you’re Japanese after all!” in Japanese. Very handy.
When did you first become a mother?
I had my daughter in April of 2004 when we lived in lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers used to be. I spent a dreamy couple of months (as a new mom of just one baby who slept well) pushing a stroller around the Marina on the Hudson River. Oh, and drinking Starbucks (while breastfeeding). Gulp.
Then we moved to Staten Island for cheaper rent and the spell was broken. So we came to France.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
I give English classes in our home to classes of up to 8 students at a time. I enjoy it, it meets a huge need in our area, it brings in some extra income. But I really hope to write/blog/cook full-time and travel the world attending conferences one day. A girl can dream, right?
Why do you blog/write?
I am, therefore I write? Or something like that?
I honestly had no idea how much satisfaction blogging would give me. I can write about memories that are nearly lost because they happened so long ago, or little blips of humor my children and husband present me daily. I can be indignant, poignant, funny, a little off-kilter and still me, my readers give me lots of support and encourage me to continue. Thank you.
How would you say that you are different from other mothers?
I’m not sure that I am all that different. I have my strengths – I think I’m a pretty patient, laid-back mom. I have my weaknesses – I let the kids watch way too much TV and don’t force them to clean up after themselves so that I really worry about their character (I’m trying to work on this). I have my challenges – getting them to be as fluent in English as they are in French, which includes reading and writing homework on top of their (already demanding) French homework.
Perhaps my biggest mothering difference is the type of food I try and get them to eat – ratatouille, leek tarte, boiled endives in béchamel – you know, stuff like that. (They don’t eat it).
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
It is hard to be a mom, isn’t it? Even if you didn’t care about being a great mom, you can never escape from all the demands. But we do care about being a great mom so there are demands and pressure.
In past centuries and in some cultures, the village raised the child. So the moms can peel carrots and potatoes outside as they watch the children run around and play together. They get support, companionship and laughter through the drudgery. In the 20th century, a shift happened where the family unit was much more isolated (and the moms became much more psychotic).
Now in the 21st century, we have that community – that support, companionship and laughter – but it’s all online. It’s impossible to resist; we moms need the connection. But my biggest fear is that my children will only know my face over the blueish tinge of the computer screen.
And that just at the moment when the drudgery becomes more bearable because they are finally self-sufficient, and just when I’m ready to have good long talks with them, I will only see their faces over the blueish tinge of the computer screen.
How did you find World Moms Blog?
The lovely Alison Lee from Mama Wants This invited me. Thank you Alison!
This is a first-time, original post to World Moms Blog from our new writer in France, Lady Jennie.
The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.