“I am sitting in the real estate office in our local town, Dogliani, in Piemonte, Italy, seven months pregnant, while Luigi, the short stout Italian realtor explains in slow English that our Sicilian cleaning woman is going to seek vengeance if we don’t pay her one thousand euros immediately. We arrived from the USA a week ago to administer to maintenance of the three hundred year old Italian farmhouse we recently purchased. During the past seven pregnant months I have moved from Paris to San Francisco to Washington DC and am now in Italy for a one week visit.
The baby kicks. Fury in me is mounting.
I point to the pink Tshirt stretched across my expansive belly announcing "due in august,” "Are you kidding me? I am carrying thirty pounds of extra weight and I could clean that house in three days. She is claiming one hundred hours? What was she using - a toothbrush?”
So starts my memoir about my quest to reconcile my wanderlust with my pregnant nesting instinct. This book describes my search for my identity as an American woman, wife and mother, while hopping back and forth between Paris, Italy and the US, juggling three different cultures. The truth is: I never planned to have kids. I climb mountains. I travel. I hate the idea of being tied down. Until my mid-thirties, travel and raising a family had seemed mutually exclusive. But then, after settling into an apartment in Paris with my husband, we realized that if the French could have children here, why couldn’t we? Maybe being a parent didn’t have to mean crushed Cheerios in the back seat of the mini-van and playrooms full of modular plastic. Maybe parenthood could be picnics at the Parc Montsouris in our favorite arrondissement and having a child who spoke French without a thought. As if that wasn’t enough, we decided to live our own version of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and purchased an old farmhouse in Italy. We wanted it all: tiny, quaint apartment in Paris, ancient farmhouse in Italy, a chance to integrate into two foreign cultures. Why not have a baby to complete the picture? No matter that I preferred backpacking in the Alps to singing nursery rhymes and picking out crib sets.
Paris Mommy is the story of my transition from a global traveler to a mother who wants desperately to avoid being pigeonholed by modern American notions of motherhood. It is my attempt to prove that I don’t have to give up the world in order to have a family. It was not a simple journey, and the challenges were myriad. Some were funny—why is my baby not turning out like the obedient French babies?—while others forced me to question what kind of culture I wanted to raise my children in. Although bookstore shelves are groaning with memoirs about women adjusting to life in Paris and living the dream of owning a house abroad, I don’t know of a single one that tackles both. Paris Mommy is parenting memoir meets travel memoir on the beautiful streets of Paris and the rolling hills of Piemonte, Italy. Peter Mayle may have thought moving to Provence was a challenge—I’m here to tell you that’s nothing compared to renovating a house in Italy while raising a baby in Paris.