Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Qui suis-je, Tome 2

One of my brothers and his wife are coming to visit. We are all really excited for a variety of reasons. The children because aunt and uncle play with them, talk to them, read to them, and spoil them so much that they feel very adored. Husband because he and brother can commiserate during apéritif and go on about what a princess I am (untrue, by the way) and because he says that sister-in-law is the best tourist ever, very interested, attentive, and appreciative - it's a real pleasure to show her around (she's even been taking French classes - the ultimate sign of touristic commitment). As for myself, I love their visits for all of the above reasons and also because it's so nice to be around people who've known me for more than 10 years.

Husband knows me well, he really does. But he only knows my history as I've told it. And although he's been to the US quite a few times, I don't think he really knows what it's like to be an American. I've been living here for nearly 9 years and I'm just starting to get an idea, a real idea, of what it's like to be French.

Anyway, a few years ago, husband mentioned that I was not myself when longtime friends and family came to visit. And he did not mean that in a good way. My attitude towards him was different. More attitudinal even. Husband is the kind of man who says something like that and then goes on about whatever like he didn't just open a huge can of worms. So, of course, I drilled him with questions. Was it what I said or how I said it, to him or about him, with everyone or not. We narrowed it down to words not said, just a tone or attitude (oh that's helpful) and only when longtime female friends were visiting.

So I did some thinking. And realized he was right. I was not the same when they were here. Maybe it's me, maybe it's my generation, maybe it's having gone to high school during the fashion disaster that was the 1980's. But I felt like I had to show my friends that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I had not become what I had always said I would NEVER be. A 1950's housewife. There's nothing wrong with being a housewife and I love my life, truly. I would not change my choices if I could, and you know how much I don't want to go back to work. But I never thought I would be living my life this way. And I, being me, made a lot of noise about that over the years. The thing is that my friends don't ever judge me and they would love me no matter what my life looked like. Which means that I was really trying to prove it to myself. Which is an exercise in absurdity.

My attitude is now revised, I no longer have anything to prove, except to my brother - that I am not a princess. Which, he would say, is another exercise in absurdity.

15 comments:

beth said...

From one modern day 1950's housewife to another - I pass no judgements and love you anyway. It sounds like both of us are still in shock that we are 1950's housewives (with modern day perks of course) and further, I am more in shock that I love being a stay at home mommy - just can't imagine life any other way! My Northweswtern friends are in a bit of shock that I am a stay at home mom too - how dare I revert back to 1950! At least you are an elegant French 1950's housewife!
About the "Princess" thing, I have never been accused of being a princess, and am usually accused of being the exact opposite - too much of the "I'll do it by myself" attitude. I can't imagine you being one, so I am hoping that Zeb and others are wrong - Nicole the princess is just hard to imagine and not to mention just totally wrong!

Nicole said...

Beth - I knew you'd know exactly what I was talking about. I'm not elegant though, I whistle, remember? The princess thing is a mystery to me as well.

beth said...

ps - have a wonderful time with your family. I love that she is learning French - isn't she the same one who was scared to travel a few years back??
As I write this, I am cooking my husband breakfast and throwing laundry in the dryer - am I am 1950's house wife or what!!

Nicole said...

Beth - she is indeed the same one who would not fly. But loving her nephews got her over her fear of flying. Happy homemaking!

beth said...

"whooo" that is me trying to whistle at all 1950's housewives!

zeb said...

Beth my sweet you are jaded by being Nicole friend since birth so your opinon on this subject does not count. Nicole like my daugher, my neice, some of the girls I have coached, my best friend daughter are princesses partically because of me. Some time over a nice bottle of wine I can explain this better.
Beth I do agree that you have never been in that group, you could have been but Nicole was just too much of one so you missed out.

zeb said...

Nicole- you are right you will never convince me that you are not so why waste the time and energy. Like you have accepted being a 50's housewife accept you are a princess.

By the way while at your house do I get computer time to respond to your blogs?

beth said...

Zeb - Thank you for not including me in that group - I got a good laugh at your response. I still can't imagine Nicole being a princess - but you have seen her much more than I have of late. I would love to hear you explain this to me sometime!

zeb said...

Beth - I would be happy to explain it to you but it must be over wine or something it would take too long to try and do it over the web.

beth said...

Zeb - how about wine (preferably red) and cheese - I would love to hear how you are partically responsible for turning Nicole into a Priness. I could even supply the wine being that I live in wine country!
Nicole - I would love to hear your side of this too - although we should talk over chocolates!
This should prove to be interesting!

Edy said...

I am late to the conversation, but my first thought... "Hey, but you still have a mean whistle!" Although, the wedding picture that Lorraine has of you on her blog makes all princesses in fairy tales look like rank amateurs.

charlie said...

It's my opinion, for what it's worth, that English mustard is superior to the French varieties. It has so much more bite, don't you think Nicole?

Nicole said...

Edy - thank you Edy. Re the whistle, I told a French friend the story and when I got to the part where I said I whistled, she burst out laughing and said, "You're kidding me." Girls really don't whistle here I guess.

Charlie - I've honestly never tried English mustard. French mustard is nice, the smooth ones have a twang that goes right to your nose and the grainy ones are perfect for sandwiches. As for the biting English, I can't say I'm surprised.

charlie said...

Nicole, I think you should try the biting English some time. I do think you'd be pleasantly surprised. And it's got to be better than a twangy nose. Hasn't it?

Tom said...

what is the princess deal? isn't that a good thing?? somehow i guess not,but not sure. i would say that you are not a 1950's h.w. but rather a 2005 housewife. you have the benefit of having traveled from then to now and know that now is better, rather then wonder if it is.