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Cherchez La Femme

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013

Today is part eight (we’re coming down the homestretch) in a series of blog posts based on Pamela Druckerman’s “Bébé Day by Day.” The following excerpts are taken directly from Chapter 8:

French mothers strive for a very particular kind of balance in their lives. It’s not a keeping-plates-in-the-air balance. It’s more like a balanced meal (you wouldn’t want to eat just potatoes). The French ideal is that no one part of your life—not being a wife, a worker, or a mom—should eclipse the other parts. Even the most devoted maman is also supposed to devote energy and passion to things other than her children.

74. Guilt is a trap: For American mothers, guilt can be like a tax you pay for being away from your child. It buys you some free time. As long as you feel guilty about leaving her, you can escape for a few hours. French moms understand the temptation to feel guilty. But they don’t want to spoil their precious free time. Instead of embracing guilty, they try to push it away.

75. Show kids that you have a life apart from them: It’s not enough for French mothers to have pleasures and interests apart from their children. They also want their kids to know about these things. They believe it’s burdensome for a child to feel that she’s the sole source of her mother’s happiness and satisfaction

76. Don’t attend children’s birthdays: They’re for kids. In Paris, from about age three, birthday parties and playdates are usually drop-offs. Parents don’t feel they must supervise another adult’s supervision of their child, or stick around to reassure the child herself.

77. Lose the baby weight: For Frenchwomen, there’s no better proof that they haven’t morphed from “femme” to “maman” than getting back to their prebaby figures, or some reasonable facsimile thereof. Parisiennes often aim to do this by three months postpartum.

78. Don’t dress like a mom: Unless a Frenchwoman is actually holding a child, it’s usually very hard to tell if she’s a mother. There’s no telltale look or type of pants. They don’t sex it up to overcompensate. But they don’t walk around wearing sweatpants and scrunchies either. Instead, they seek an elegant middle ground. Looking good improves morale and makes you feel more balanced. It just does.

79. Don’t become a “Taxi Mother”: Parisian mothers think it’s perfectly reasonable to weigh the impact on their own quality of life when making choices for their child. A French psychologist says there’s a crucial difference between being responsive and attentive to your child and becoming a “vending machine” who’s always on.

*Due to length, I trimmed down each point.

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