That’s right: since late October, David-Nicolas and I are the proud parents of twins. Our kids – or kidlets, as one friend calls our tiny babies – were born a bit early, and spent some time in the behemoth and fabulously staffed Robert Debré Hospital in Paris’ 19th district.
(In the interest of protecting my babes’ lovely faces from internet predators, only my newsletter subscribers have access to their photo.)
Since France has famously generous family benefits, my maternity leave, or congé maternité, lasts until the beginning of June. So those of you who are wondering if I’ll be offering classes and tours this summer, the answer is oui! Of course.
Until then, I’ll be "working" as a full-time mom. But we have help – don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child? – not only from France’s system of subsidized and experienced travailleuses familiales ("family workers" who let us catch up on sleep a little during the day) but also from an entire network of doctors, nurses, midwives, osteopaths, psychologists, pharmacists, and registered pediatricians who make house calls, and so many others who make up our "village."
The Unfit Mother
In addition, among our range of friends from quite varied walks of life, we’ve got plenty of divergent parenting models! One friend constantly refers to her own parenting style as la mère indigne, or the Unfit Mother. She freely admits she never wanted to breastfeed because she didn’t want to give up red wine and cigarettes, for example.
On the other end of the scale is my neighbor, to whom we refer (openly) as Super-Maman. We’re considering buying her an "S" t-shirt, since she so kindly offered our children a pair of onesies with our building’s street address on it – a welcome gift to all children born in our building!
She’s the maman we’d love to hate, if she weren’t so damned nice. She has three children, and her mother is a pediatrician. This neighbor can nurse a baby and parallel park at the same time. Her children have never seen a bottle (or biberon) in their lives, and never get sick (thanks to all that wonderful breast milk they received). Her children never used pacifiers… and on and on, ad infinitum! Thank goodness they invented an emoticon for people like her.
And yet Marie-Laure (not her real name!) is the warmest, most personable neighbor we know, always ready to lend a helping hand and sit with our children while one of us dashes off to a doctor’s appointment or even just off to the local café for a welcome break from the madness.
So between the Unfit Mother and Super-Maman, or worse, the helicopter parent, I think I’ll aim for the model of the "good enough mother." Please wish me luck, and I’ll be back with more recipes and stories soon!