It’s Mother’s Day in France today, so let’s celebrate my Maman!
Just a quick letter to say Merci.
Merci for always making me look nice, like a little princess when I was younger. You were the one who was doing it all: waking me up, preparing my breakfast, helping with homework and most importantly, brushing my so long and tangled thin hair with talent! I say that because Papa was barely able to do a ponytail.
I can still picture it. He would make me stand up on the chair next to the window dans la salle à manger so that I was at his height. It was the puzzle of the day for this tall and clumsy man: ‘Oh La La, ces cheveux! Il faut les couper!’ and eventually, after a good 5 minutes, it will be done, a ponytail, a bit bancale but there. No need to cut anything, we managed it. But with you, easily done in two minutes and looking just parfaite.
Merci for having been a strict mum. A la maison, rules were clear with you. My brother and I would not even bother arguing. We just knew there was no point. Huit heures, au lit and we were better off having brushed our teeth correctement.
But, I have to say pardon. I am sorry because I am pretty sure that sometimes, I behaved like a diva in my teens. It probably got a bit wrong when I started looking at boys. Especially when I fancied that mysterious dark year 11 guy who had the coolest scooter (I thought so at the time, but it wasn’t really the case…) au collège. I am sorry I had some tantrums. You remember that time we went shopping and I absolutely wanted those expensive Cimarron trousers? I don’t know how I convinced you to go to the shop in the first place. It was the most expensive place on the high street. Those bloody Cimarron trousers… Everyone had a pair, so I had to have one too.
I still remember trying them on. You agreed with me; they were perfect for a party I was going to. The shop assistant was all smiles; l’affaire était dans le sac. But when you asked for the price, your face just changed ‘Quoi, 400 francs?!’ ‘Take it off and let’s get out of here!’ How embarrassing… The worst was to come ‘We will go to Tati and get you un pantalon moins cher!’ Bloody Tati! I was going to end up with some cheap trousers to turn up to THE party of the year! I was 14 years old at the time and c’était l’horreur absolue. £80 for some clothes. Now, I would easily spend three times more on a handbag.
But I was fuming. My mum was allowing my brother to get some flying lessons at the time. It was costing my parents a fortune and I was not allowed a pair of trousers. Quick explanation for my readers. My brother was a very naughty boy at school. Like literally, he would be in trouble every single week. So when he eventually found his path and became l’élève modèle in a new vocational school at the age of 17, my parents rewarded him with this treat. He was the new king of the castle. Mum and Dad thought that would keep him on track. ‘That’s bloody unfair, I have been a good girl for the last bloody 14 years and I get fuck all!!!!!’ I probably got smacked at this point, I can’t remember.
Merci for standing up to me. Indeed, you were actually right. I didn’t need that expensive pair of trousers. And the point you had at the time was quite simple. You didn’t want me to be a spoiled brat. So merci for raising me up with (I hope!) good values. Even if it seemed a bit harsh at the time, it was the right thing to do. But to be fair to you Maman, you always told me to go for it.
So I did, even if it means that I am away from you. I am sorry I left home and moved to the UK. I am sure that’s not what you planned for when you told me to pursue my dreams. Pardon for sometimes being a rubbish daughter who doesn’t call you often enough. ‘It’s not my fault Mum, I am mega busy at work!’ Pardon for sending you quick emails full of mistakes or with punctuation missing. I am typing too fast and don’t bother proofreading. ‘Chérie, you are a French teacher! Surely you must spell correctly in your language!’ I know, I am just a lazy baobab. C’est la vie…
Forgive me if I gave you a grandson who you will barely see. I know how difficult it is for you when I describe what we do at the weekend. You probably think that Grumpy Boyfriend’s mum is well lucky to be able to see, talk and play with Baba whenever she wants. And you have only pictures of him to put on your wall.
I know it’s unfair, especially when you were there for Baba’s birth (thank god for that, I am not sure Grumpy Boyfriend or most importantly I would have survived it without you!). You’re the one who held my hand and told me to keep it up when all I wanted was giving up. Merci for being, yet not a perfect mummy but a good one in my opinion (proof is you did a good job, even big bro ended up well ?).
Maman, you will probably never read this letter. I am not sure I will ever dare to show it to you. But that’s fine. I will keep it for myself and in 30 years’ time, I will show it to Baba. Just to remind him how an amazing mum I was in case he forgets like I did for you.
Bonne Fête Maman! Bonne Fête to all the mummies around the world. You are the best!
PS: yes, it’s indeed a picture of my mum at the maternity. I am the gorgeous baby in her arm, while my mum was in between my two grandmothers. Spot my naughty big brother . It’s not difficult, he has the cheekiest face ever ?