Friday, October 17, 2008

Why I Love Being La Mom in France

It may seem like most of my blogging has to do with dog doo. That's correct because, unfortunately, when you are mom in Paris dog doo is an ever present companion. Plus don't forget that I have two French Fries under the age of five so my world is filled with references to pee pee and caca everyday. That said, while I hate the dog doo part of Parisian life, there are several things that j'adore about being a mom in France. Et voila!:

Maternity Leave
The legal limit today is 16 weeks paid leave, but the European Commission is going to pass a pan-European law making the minimum paid leave 18 weeks long. That almost makes me want to go back to work and have another baby just to get paid to take time off! 18 weeks is a whole lot better than what moms get in the USA although it's not as generous as Ireland's 42 weeks, but hey, who's complaining?

Parental Leave of Absence
Once your maternity leave is finished, you can then take a parental leave of absence up until the third birthday of your child and be guaranteed to have a job waiting for you at your company when you come back. While the leave is unpaid, it sure is nice knowing you can stay home and enjoy those first wonderful years in your child's life and have a job to go back to (if you want).

If baby #2 comes along you can extend your parental leave for another three years and the government pays you around 650 euros a month to stay home with your kids. I have a few mommy friends who are on baby #3 and have been on leave for nine years with the safety net of knowing that they are always guaranteed a job if they want it.

All mothers are working mothers in my opinion. At least in France you get paid for staying home and doing the most important job ever!

Personal Trainer / Nutritionist
Feeling fat and out of shape? Need help getting on a diet to help lose the extra baby weight? Well live in France and get all the help you need for half the price! How? Well here's La MOM's petite secret that most moms don't know exist and therefore don't take advantage of... and it's completely legal!

Need to get back on the road to Mommy Maintenance? Well just invite a personal trainer into your home to help out. Pay your trainer with cheques emploi-service (service checks) and you get to deduct half of your trainer's fee from your taxes. So a session that costs 40 euros/hour actually costs only 20 euros! The key is having someone provide a service for you in your home and paying them with the checks. Everyone does this with apartment cleaners or babysitters, but nobody I know (besides moi!) has taken it a step further and extended this nice little tax benefit to exercise! My trainer stretches with me at home (therefore fulfilling the in-home service side of the deal) then we jog on over to the Park Monceau for a workout.

Same thing goes for eating right. Use a nutritionist (or a personal trainer who moonlights as a one) who makes house calls. Have them come over to clean out your fridge, counsel you on what to eat, then compile your food shopping list. Easy as pie (but don’t eat that pie!). You know the saying, “A minute on the lips a lifetime on the hips.” Well that’s definitely true in Paris with all the yummy pastries and pies seducing me from the boulangerie’s window display everyday. I would have serious weight problems if my personal trainer and nutritionist didn't keep me in line...for half price!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Inspiration For The Stay At Home Mom

Today I had another visit with my beloved Dr. Vein. I went into the appointment with my head in the clouds - tired from another almost sleepless night (Merci Small Fry). Getting my legs poked and prodded with her magic needle pretty much brought me back to earth, and boy, was I sure glad I was back! Dr. Vein inspired me to take charge of my mommy life. In fact, I'm sure lots of mommies feel the same way. It doesn't matter whether you live in Paris, London, Milan, or Chicago - there comes a time after sacrificing so much for your kids when you have to start focusing on you.

It all started with a small comment I made about her gorgeous and very sexy snake skin boots. Dr. Vein told me that I should spruce myself up instead of running around looking like an American all day. I was a bit offended by that comment - guess she made it because I arrived looking the opposite of chic Parisian - in big American running shoes.

I saw her eyeing my body, and well, the good news is that the extra baby fat around my belly isn't fatty! It's loose muscle according to Dr. Vein. The best way to put it back in place is with a bit of plastique surgery. Not lipo, but a petite procedure that will thread my tummy muscles back to where they were pre-pregnancies. Sounds good to me! I may just consider it since all the exercising, dieting, and stomach crunches seem to have zero impact.

I know what you must be thinking, "Why is La MOM taking plastic surgery advice from a phlebologist?" Well, it turns out she's had the procedure herself and after three kids her tummy is looking mighty fantastic.

Next was a lecture on body hair removal. Dr. Vein recommends that every mom should RUN, not walk, straight to the dermatologist and laser away body hair - specifically in the armpit and minou (Not gonna translate this one for you - hint: this animal says, "meow.") regions. She even showed me her minou! Dr. Vein pulled up her little black dress to reveal a very manicured ticket de metro (No joke, the French call this type of bikini wax a metro ticket...nice visual huh?). She said, and I quote word for word, " C'est lisse comme la peau d'un bebe" (translation: It's as smooth as a baby's skin). Well, I wasn't going to touch it to find out, but it looked great and she hasn't had to shave down there since she lasered it away EIGHT YEARS AGO.

Dr. Vein congratulated me on taking the first steps to maintaining moi by removing the unsightly spider veins from my legs and she made sure to stress that mommy maintenance doesn't stop there. At least not in Paris. Especially if you want to keep looking sexy for your man.

Now maybe Dr. Vein's mommy maintenance suggestions are a bit over the top and probably a wee bit expensive, but in principle she's right-on and totally inspiring. It's time to take care of me! That's what I'm going to start doing as of now.

Thank goodness Big Cheese agrees with the saying "Happy Wife Happy Life" - I may just get my tummy thread and laser procedures as Christmas gifts this year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Merci Cherie et Jeff

Merci à Ma Petite Cherie et son franjin Jeff pour un super-support technique!

A big thanks goes out to Ma Petite Cherie and her brother Jeff for providing La MOM with technical support last week!

A Day In The Life of La MOM

What's my life like? Well, it's not all glamour all the time.

Keep in mind that for the first part of my life here, before I was La MOM, I was constantly looking up and admiring the beauty of this great city. Now that I'm La MOM, I am constantly looking down trying to keep myself and my French Fries from stepping in dog crap. For the last five years I've had a consistent neck ache - I guess I know why!

I thought it would be fun for you to walk a mile (or two) in my shoes and illustrate through pictures a day in my life.


Morning bonjour...what the garbage men "forgot" to dump

Monday: No need to specify what this is

Big Fry's favorite toy store

Tuesday: Looks like someone slid in it

Beaucoup dog pee puddles to dodge around with the stroller

Wednesday: still new meaning to "Same Shit Different Day"

Our favorite hangout: Park Monceau's duck pond

Public toilettes at the Park Monceau

Cigarette butts litter the sidewalks

Checking my shoes for fecal matter before entering apartment

Ditto for Big Fry

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Difference Between French and American Kids


French kids don't cut cheese (even though they eat a ton of the stuff!), American kids do.

At least, that's how the French moms acted over the weekend.

On Saturday, I took Small Fry to her music class. It's a fun class where the kids and moms get to sing nursery rhymes in French and English together. Most kids in my class are Anglophone, but there are about five French kids too. I’ve noticed that the French moms just sit there and don’t really look like they are enjoying the class while the Anglophone moms are having a ball and are more involved in the class than their kids are.

Halfway through the class, it fell silent as the instructor took a break to take off her sweater. That was the moment Small Fry decided to get musical in her diaper. Oui oui, she ripped a man-fart that echoed throughout the room and awed everyone.

By the looks on the French mom's faces, you would have thought Small Fry had farted in their Chanel handbags (OK, that would be gross). They were so disgusted and stared at me with contempt. All I could do along with the other Anglophone moms was burst out laughing. Her cheese cutting was so big some of the moms and the class instructor looked over at us and one mom even said, “Was that you or your kid?!”

It must have been contagious because the little boy sitting next to Small Fry farted too and all the Anglo moms laughed and joked while the French moms sat there horrified to be in the same room with us and looking quite arrogant in the way that only the Parisians know how to do. I knew exactly what they were thinking, "French kids are behaved enough not to fart! American kids are savages!"

What those arrogant French moms didn't know is that musical farts have French origins!

In the 1800s, Frenchman Joseph Pujol apparently became so adept at controlling his flatulence flow he could sound musical notes. Called "le Petomane'' - the fartiste - he was reputedly the highest paid performer in France at his prime.

Wish I had known this little factoid in music class because I definitely would have used it to wipe those smug looks off the French moms' faces. There's always next week.

View my page on Mom Bloggers Club