Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nine Months

Or six months, if you will: our big news for 2007 is currently very small indeed, a barely noticable change in my silhouette that so far only informed friends and family know how to interpret. And yet, it changes everything: un vrai bouleversement. A happy one.

The French custom is to wait until three months' past to tell everyone the good news. This made sense to me: I preferred caution in the early days, and in any event wasn't looking forward to telling my boss that I was going to leave for at least the minimum four months' maternity leave. In France, pregnant women go on maternity leave for six weeks before their due date and about three months afterward. That's great news for me, but more difficult for my boss, who I suspect will have some trouble finding a replacement.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been trying to find clever and unembarrassing ways to inform my friends and, especially problematic, my colleagues. I've picked up a very French dread of sharing details of my personal life with the people I work with. Work is work and family... well, family is sacred, and the two do not mix. Most people speak only vaguely of their spouses, and almost never share their first names. Desktops are empty of family photographs. It's partly generational, and twenty-somethings are more forthcoming about their personal lives than forty-somethings, but there is definitely a reluctance to share, a respect for privacy.

Even so, I preferred to say something before people started wondering if my pants were tight because I'd simply overindulged over the holidays, and if I'd given up running during my lunch break as a result of winter laziness.

What I wasn't prepared for was that absolutely everyone would have advice for me. Rest up, eat well, stop working out, avoid salt, how long is your commute anyway? So much for the sacred public/private dividing line. I keep reminding myself that they mean well.

So, now that the news is out, I feel it's time to announce it on my blog, for the audience of... just how many people are reading this anyway? Two people? Mom and Dad? Yeah, but you already knew anyway.

I'm excited. As my father once told me, before you have a child, all you know is that your life is going to change forever but you have no idea how. I suspect that raising a child in France will involve me even deeper in French life, and will reveal a whole other side of the country to me. I will learn what is expected of a mother, of a teacher, and of a well-behaved child. I will probably find some things better than in the US and other things frustrating. I will participate in some things as a parent than I will never have experienced as a child, and someone will probably have to explain how it all works to me.

My child will grow up French as a matter of course, but it will be my job to help them feel American. I will speak English with them as much to avoid teaching my accent and grammatical mistakes in French as anything else, but that's just one small piece. I want to take them to the Rockies, to the Pacific, to New York and New England; I want them to discover all that wonderful American diversity, all that beautiful land, and feel that it is part of who they are.

We'll need to spend enough time in the Pacific Northwest for them to understand what makes a real forest: not your thinned and impeccably-groomed Ile de France oak forest criss-crossed with bicycle trails, but an evergreen rain forest with sheets of moss and cedar trees the diameter of the average French car.

Luckily we'll have plenty of time. If only Paris-Seattle were a toddler-friendly direct flight!


Allison said...

I'm so happy for you Emily! I don't know if I have your current e-mail address. You have mine...please e-mail!

Allison Jones

Reena said...

Congrats Em. :) *HUG*