Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, July 1, 2010

C flew back to Paris on Monday, and my time here is winding down as well. This month has gone by fast and I'm amazed by how much we managed to fit in. Like C said, it was like 10 vacations in one. I'm having mixed feelings about going back. But then again, summer in Minnesota always does that to me. I equate MN winters to childbirth - they're so terrible, but what comes afterward is so great that you forget just how awful it was until it comes around again.

One of the things C was most surprised about by Minnesota was that pretty much everyone I know owns their own home. And I have to say, after two years of living in my shoebox, I had definite penis envy of them all. So many rooms! So much space!

As most of you know, I've been saving like a madwoman to buy an apartment, and I reached my original down payment goal in May. After much thinking (and a lot of not having the time to deal with the rabid Parisian housing market), I decided I would have more options if I kept saving for at least another year. One one hand I'm grateful that I've been able to save so much these past two years, but on the other hand, I can't help but feeling like I'm too old to be living like a 1950's maid. Logically I know that it makes no sense to pay a ton of money for a bigger place when, between my déplacements and staying at C's, I only sleep there maybe a week a month anyways. It's a short time sacrifice for a long-term goal. Yada yada yada. But to be honest, it's getting tougher and tougher to deal with the inconveniences of my so-called apartment.

And I'm also feeling a big nostalgic for my family. Being in Denver with my cousins made me realize how lucky we all were to grow up together. And now they're all married and thinking about having kids, and it makes me sad to think that my children wouldn't grow up alongside them. Look at me, I'm sad for kids that may never even exist! How ridiculous is that? I can't be alone in feeling like this though - how do those of you who actually have kids deal with it? Do you go home as often as you can? Or does your French family fill that void for you?

I'm sure all of this will pass once I'm actually back in Paris - I've just had a lot more time to think these past few days without having C around to entertain me (the latest was having to explain what the difference was between "laid" and "laid-back". Ha!)

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17 Comments:

Blogger Quantumhollapena said...

Hey Sam,

I totally know where you are coming from on feeling like you and your potential future children are going to miss out by being so far away to raise them. Almost all of my cousins back home have kids (yes plural) and a bunch of my schoolmates as well. Although I want to have kids one day, I'm not anywhere ready yet, but I have already started to feel left out. I feel very blessed that I grew up with so much family around and it granted me the intimacy that I have noticed so many other families lack.

However, I have no serious desire to move back home in order to alleviate these pangs. Hopefully when the children do come someday, I'll have figured out something else or will manage. I'm sure that you will too (when that time comes).

July 1, 2010 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Hey Sam....

A little different from me since I don't have kids and don't know that I can at this stage...
But, my brother has a young daughter- my only niece - and they all live in the Dominican Republic... I was just thinking about it the other day...
But, she's my only niece... and I have only met her once in her almost 5 year existence..

This makes me very sad... Not sad enough to move to the Dominican, but enough to feel like I'm missing out-- and that I really miss my fam!!
I can relate to what you are saying, though...

Don't you want to move to Antony, by the way??? You can buy a big house 10 times LESS than an apt. in Paris... It's not that far, really!!!
Take care and have a good rest of your trip and hope to see you when your back.

July 1, 2010 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Global Librarian said...

Last time you blogged about kids it was a pretty definitive "no way!" Time changes things, doesn't it.

Well, let me put it this way. Raising children far away from family sucks! Which is why we are currently exploring ways to not be so far away.

But in the meantime, we do video Skype calls a lot and see family 1-2 times per year. (Either here or on visits to US.)

But we are both US citizens, so neither of us has family nearby. My friends here who are married to Europeans seem to fall into two camps. Like his family, it's good. Don't like his family, it sucks.

July 1, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

GL - don't worry, there's been no talk of baby-making around here! lol. But I have had times I felt like this before, even in when I lived in Bretagne. It's just a cycle I guess.

July 1, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

well I DO feel sad when I go home (not nearly as often as I'd like btw) and my sister's little kids don't know who I am. But I think what hurts me more to think about is how sad my parents would be if I ever had a baby over here in France and they couldnt see him/her very often. My Mom is a huge baby person and likes to be very involved in her grandkids lives, and me being over here with a baby would be very hard for her. Just another reason I doubt I'll ever have one lol.

Come back soon...we need to get our drink on. Seriously.

July 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger House Hunting in Paris said...

I think it's a good plan for you to hold off and save up even more money for an apartment. The market continues to be completely insane and there's not much out there - still haven't found a place six months in. I don't know your budget or neighborhood or requirements, and you might not be as picky as us, but it's a good idea to go ahead and meet with realtors just to get your name and phone number out there early, and to get an idea of what you want/don't want so that when you finally find your perle rare you will feel comfortable making an offer on the spot. Good luck and if you ever have any questions about the process feel free to drop me a line.

July 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger kiwi in france said...

My niece lives in Australia and I've only met her once, its sad. I know its difficult for mum and dad having their son and grandchild in Australia (7 hour flight) especially when my aunts have their grandchildren an hour or two away.

I've thought about this a lot lately with friends and cousins having children. If I have kids with British Boy we'll probably live in the UK and my kids would only see their New Zealand family once a year (a 24 hour flight is tough). I loved my childhood growing up with all my cousins, and it's heart-breaking I can't imagine how difficult it will be for me, and my family.

I think if you go home or have your family over regularly, and skype is great too so you can see each other.

July 1, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

It is not ridiculous to plan ahead for when you have children. It is very smart to think about this beforehand!

I go back a lot more than I used to before the boys were born. Before you buy, you might also want to think about raising kids in Paris. I got pregnant when we lived in Milan and had just moved to a "bigger" apartment to have extra space for him. But then we realized we did not want to be raising a little kid in downtown Milan and we moved away. There were also other extenuating circumstances, but I am really glad we left when we did.

That said, I get the idea that Paris has a lot more to offer families.

As for the distance, you either learn to live with it or you move back. It is hard either way (if your spouse is from another country). Another thing to think about is where you want them to grow up. Because as much as you inform their childhood, if they grow up in Europe, they will be European.

We are lucky enough to be able to go back frequently and my job is very flexible so I can basically take them whenever I want (and can afford) to go.

Kids change everything!!! And there is something about becoming a mother in a foreign country that ties you even closer to that country. More than naturalization does IMO.

July 1, 2010 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger christine said...

Hey great question sam. I'll take a minute to answer this one. I guess it depends on if you have a big family back home that gets together a lot. I know people that do/did and they left France because they were missing all the family reunions and Thanksgving dinners etc. I don't have this so there's a teeny bit of nostalgia when we visit but not enough to make me want to change and move. We have great visits back home and everyone makes a big fuss over the kids when we do get there. That's enough for me.

By the way the first year and first baby is really difficult I have to say. You get huge waves of homesickness. But from my experience it's gotten much much better later-- I guess I've settled in to being a French parent---I think I basically let go of all my preconceptions that they should have EXACTLY the same childhood I had...that really helped.

misschris xoxo

July 1, 2010 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

My parents lived in Texas, their families in Detroit and western Wisconsin, so we were never surrounded by constant cousins. I know it was hard on my mom, not as much on my dad. But I still am very close to my mom's little sister. And I think the benefits for kids in a bicultural, bilingual family are something you have to consider too!

July 1, 2010 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi Sam, Ian is 1 and a half now. It is sad sometimes. Due to financial restraints, we're unable to go overseas every year. What we can do is call often, and make tons of little movies to share with the American family, just 30 to 45 seconds each, and put a few up a week when things aren't too hectic. It's not a bed of roses but at the same time, we're pretty happy with our choice to stay in France. We came because L was not happy in the States and I am more flexible in that regard, I adapted to the idea of being a foreigner/immigrant better than he could. L is also a functionnaire so he would have been giving up his career opportunities if he didn't follow 'the plan' for his field. Ian will have an option to go to the States for exchange with family and stay with cousins or his grandmother over summer vacation when he's older. I think these experiences will help him bond with them just as much as the regular family meetings, which for us require a lot of organization anyway.

The french family has really stepped up to the plate, and are always calling and making plans for family visits whenever they can.

We're just looking into it but I was downright shocked when I realized how little it costs per hour to put a child in daycare (even for a short time a week) in France. When I think of what it costs in the States, I don't know if we could swing our same situation over there. They look out for French mothers over here. With realistic paid maternity leave, Wednesdays off, all kinds of subsidies for care, etc. Working mothers are given a sweet deal over here in comparison to the States, no matter how you slice it.

You build your little world of people in similar situations and you have a support network through that, and make time to visit with family back home.

July 1, 2010 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Cécy said...

I grew up seeing my cousins every summer for weeks at a time and other times during the year. All my family is in France and I just can't imagine how it will be to have children without my family around. I'm just hoping his sibblings have kids around the same time we do so they get to have cousins to play with.

July 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Our little one is coming into the world in 5 months, and I think about a lot of the things you wrote about in this entry.
I've been back "home" (my parent's new house in a city/state i've never lived in) once in the last five years, and I have yet to return to what I consider home.

Luckily for us, we're extra isolated -- Jeremie's family isn't anywhere near us either (Reunion) so i'm going into this whole mommy thing with no allies but the friends i've managed to make. I know it's not going to be easy, but I know it's definitely going to be worth it.

As for raising a little French drone, which you didn't mention but it's on my mind, i'm hoping that our next transfer will be out of country, and that living across Europe and Africa will help our little one to have a more global identity of himself rather than feeling only French or only Amerian. Of course this is all just speculation.

That's awesome that you are trying to buy a place of your own. I hope that works out for you when you get where you want to be. Of course it's cheaper if you have two people's contributions to a down payment.. certainly seems like that may be a road you are heading down...

July 1, 2010 at 5:44 PM  
OpenID ashleyenfrance said...

Hello,
I am trying to reconcile a lot of things that you talk about in your post, with my now 8 month old. By the time she is one I will have been home twice, my parents will have been to France once. I am sure that the frequency of our visits will slow down some over time, just due to budgeting and affordability.
What I am kind of hoping is that at some point we can buy a big house out in the country and have a place for my parents/cousins/ect to come out. I am also going to try to talk my cousins (with whom I am pretty close as we were all kind raised together) into sending me their kids a few weeks a summer later on, so that my daughter can practice her English a lot!
We are also considering having a larger family so that the kids will have each other, as my French family all lives in the south of France, and we live near Paris so we really don't see each other that often. My in-laws are both only children, so there really isn't a whole lot of family besides my husbands siblings. We do have a great group of friends though, and I do have faith that all will work out in the end.
And Skype is a godsend. My 8 month old recognizes my parents better then my in-laws because we video-chat several times a week!

July 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

well, there is always another option for the living situation... :)

As for kids, I wasn't really close to my siblings/cousins growing up, saw them only a few times a year (moved around a lot) but I fully plan on offloading (ahem, giving my kids the benefit of getting to know their American side) my kids on unsuspecting relatives during the summer months.

July 1, 2010 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Brandi said...

I know what you mean, grass is always greener. When I was in France, I felt like that with one kid and one on the way and my french in-laws 7 hour drive away, I decided to move back to be closer to some family, easier to find a job in DC than in Bordeaux, but now around my family, I literally never see them. My cousin that I was so close to, has her own life with her 4 kids, we maybe see each other once every 3 months and my siblings, even if they live close by, I am lucky to see them once a month. People are just different then when we were kids....All the kids are in soccer, dance, etc and no one has anytime. Thinking about going back to France, at least there I will have 5 weeks of vacation ;)

July 2, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Jadie said...

laid vs. laid-back?! more hilarity and endless giggles! that c is a keeper

July 3, 2010 at 6:45 AM  

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