My nine-year-old son recently triggered a deep reflection process when he said that, I quote, one of his friends had a dream life and he didn’t.
We discussed the gap between the world of appearances and the real world, the illusory nature of the “dream life” and how one has to make efforts when one wants to change something unpleasant in his or her life. The matter was solved in no time but the words “dream life” lingered, given that I am so conscious of the duality between my real life and my digital life.
This duality is really a chasm.
After all, my Instagram page and my website give the impression that I am a “Parisienne” with a dream life. One could easily think that I have lunch at the Lutetia regularly and that I dance at Castel every weekend, that the champagne showers are never ending and that my life is free from any constraint.
Is that what my day to day looks like? Oh no.
My daily life is that of a single mother, who splits her time between two young children, a teenager abroad, a complicated extended family, complex cases, and a permanent client chase, which all makes for quite an exhausting day-to-day.
Raising kids alone is both extremely tiring and incredibly sad, sometimes. And no one really says it.
It’s tiring because you are the only daily reference 24/7, that the mental load is permanent and you have to correctly assess whether to be the nourishing figure or the normative figure from one hour to the next.
It’s tiring because as a parent you want to be present without being suffocating, present to answer their questions, whilst also encouraging them to use their judgment, free-will and build their personalities, which has nothing to do with yours.
Am I exasperated by my children at times? Absolutely.
Do I sometime feel imprisoned because I am alone with them for the most part? Absolutely.
There is nothing easier than a child but as soon as there are two of them, you become a minority: you are clearly outnumbered by two (or more) kids who are more cunning than you and will back each other up. It requires all your energy.
(Now, imagine that your ex makes the most of your maternal qualities and sometimes leaves you his five-year-old, you’re not even a minority anymore, you’re just drowning. But always with a smile on your face. The “Auberge Espagnole” for kids? This way please!).
I, like millions of other mothers, do with what I have, the most important part of the task being not to create deep emotional wounds, which will follow my children and jeopardize their happiness in adulthood.
It’s also sad sometimes because when you want to live and share the moments of happiness created by your offspring’s progress with their father, you can only turn to yourself and it definitely isn’t a moment of instantaneously shared joy.
So, you implement new dynamics, which are neither better nor worse, just different. You differ sharing moments of joy with the father, your parents or your friends and just tell them when you get the chance to see them. You write the clever or funny words of your kids down in a little journal because you can forget these things fast. You take more pictures, to share them with your loved ones, and that’s a good thing because it also allows you to have more memories.
Beyond all these disagreements, there are of course thousands of moments of joy and they are frequent, thank God. And very encouraged, and appreciated. That’s how the circle of happiness expands, in my opinion, by always looking at the positive side of all events.
There are myriad lessons to learn with every moment but dear God is it painful sometimes. I don’t think happiness is possible without effort. To paraphrase Saint Augustine, one can only know liberty through constraint. I believe the same applies to happiness because only effort can bring us transcendence and a little bit of heaven, even if it’s just the day-to-day kind.
Far from me the idea of complaining – I am happy and grateful for this live I get to live. However, I am also averse to the idea of making you believe that I’ve got a perfect, “instaworthy” life.
As I have said before, my goal is not to deceive.
I love beauty, taste and skill and I want to share that with my loved ones or with you. There is beauty and craft in nearly every moment in life.
So, I give you the pictures that I take on Tuesday evenings, the only day of the week I can play my “bailed out of jail” card because the kids are either with their grandmother or with their father. God knows it’s delightful to be able to run errands without someone walking on your feet, holding onto both your hands, without having to answer the same question repeated over and over again in stereo mode and without 408 legos in your bag. It allows me to savor this beautiful city at my own pace and without the constraints, for once.