Bonjour Kittens

Bonjour my lovelies –

Miss moi? I am back and sadly don’t have much time…work has to go and interfere with my desire to blog away on KT and surf the web and email my friends. How rude, right? How very not-French of my job….

But, I thought I would give you all a taste of moi. Surely you’ve missed moi as it’s been so long. So while I will be brief today, I promise more later this week, I just want to give you some observations from my trip to La France.

First of all, I’ve concluded that going on vacation alone with your husband is a must-do for all mom’s. Even if it feels hard at first. Secondly, I’ve concluded that 5-6 days max is the ideal time. I’ll be honest, for the first 6 days, sure I missed my darling daughter, but trust me, we LOVED afternoon naps, sleeping in, and dilly dallying around town, and long late dinners with lots of wine. That French wine makes everything wonderful. As does the cheese. And the pain au chocolate.

After day 6, I was ready to return to my baby even though I was staring down a weekend in Provence. Actually, I ached for her. But somehow we powered through. I’m thinking the fabulous shops, prolific amounts of wine and cheese and perfect weather with no bugs helped.

So first kittens, a week’s vacation sans enfants is a must-do. Even a long weekend. But if you think you can’t leave your kid or your kid can’t survive without you, well then, you are the first one that ought to be signing up for that break.

But now to La France.

Returning to Europe for the first time as a Mom opened my eyes to things that I assure you, I never noticed or cared about before.

First – my mom was right. Per the usual. The Europeans have WAY better stroller options than we do. When we were shopping for our stroller what feels like 500 years ago, my mother couldn’t believe the dirth of options we have here in the States and how few of the strollers go into a bassinet, fully flat. Well, in Europe, dear kittens, they all do, and they are beautiful and seem to move seemlessly over all the cobblestones. And interestingly, they all were outfitted with beautiful soft fabric for l’enfant.

Is anyone really surprised that the Europeans have better and more stylish strollers than us? Hell, most of us are walking around with European strollers and for all you Bugaboo fans out there, I saw ONE the entire 10 days in France…and of course, it was an American couple.

Second. French baby clothing stores and French maternity fashion.

FABULOUS.

If I had been preggo, I would have shopped my heart out. I did, however, shop my heart out for darling daughter and man was that fun. Adorable outfits, fun color combos that are different from ours (lots of red, lots of polka dots, but much smaller polka dots and of course, an adorable rain coat that is – reversible. Why wouldn’t it be.)

I was also surprised at how family friendly the culture seemed to be. During the day, I noticed new mom’s out and about with their friends, all lunching, babies and strollers everywhere. I never once spotted what seemed to be a nanny. Never. Not once.

We all know that if you walk through the parks and streets of Washington or NY during the day during the week, well, it’s pretty obvious to spot the nannies with the babies. I couldn’t believe that I never ever saw something similar in Paris, Lyon or anywhere in Provence. Occasionally I saw what could have been a Grandmother with the babies. But speaking of parks, the French know how to build them for kids. There were parks everywhere we turned and filled with fabulous large wooden structures to climb all over.

I inquired with our family friends who have been living in France almost ten years now. I asked about returning to work, I asked about maternity leave, I asked all these questions. What I learned is this – the French government pays couples a significant amount of money to have children, they get paid for each kid up to three kids. Note I said “couple” and not “married couples.” I will get into the French political drama over the unmarried couple maybe tomorrow because it was fascinating – but really, it’s so not French to get married.

Our friends thought that you get paid full salary for about 4 months of maternity leave but he wasn’t entirely sure and he said that it is becoming more common for the women to return to work but not nearly the amount as we do here in the good old U.S.

As for the mom’s, they all seemed to have returned to their pre baby bodies even when they were pushing what looked to be a one week old to me. I was amazed. And never once did I ever see evidence of breastfeeding.  I saw lots of mom’s shaking up the bottle, mixing up the formula while they were out to lunch, but never once did I ever see someone breastfeeding. I just saw formula and bottles. And trust me, I was paying attention.

The other thing I noticed was how the French women eat. Again, I was watching. Probably blatantly staring sometimes. They ate everything. They had gobs of bottles of wine (gasp! drinking as a mother! mon dieu!), they had appetizers, bread, entrees, and dessert. And kittens, these women clean their plates.

Why are they still so thin? Is it that they walk and bike everywhere? Does the obsessive smoking help? I don’t know. But these women eat.

And finally, a note on fashion. Flats everywhere in metallics. Lots of black and white, nothing really that blew me away or even really surprised me. Just simple, clean style with flats. And of course a cigarette in one had.

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