Marie is mother hen to two little boys, and she introduces them to us: “Maël is a cheeky little boy, a little clown, very cuddly and a big eater. He loves cars and ‘cooking’!
Maxence, my oldest, is very sensitive, funny and inquisitive. He loves books, music and has an overflowing imagination.
They love each other and fight each other in equal measure!”
Marie is a communications and public relations manager in the civil service.
She tells us that she had a sweet and happy childhood based on mutual respect and playfulness, especially with her brothers. But it got a bit more difficult before her parents’ divorce, largely due to the arguments they would have in front of their children. “Grown-ups’ business should stay that way! You need to respect each other as a couple so the children have a positive image of each of their parents. If not it can damage your authority and the confidence they have in their parents.
For my own children, I would like to pass on respect, openness, sharing, humour, as well as lots of simplicity and even more love! And if that could last throughout their lives as teenagers and adults, it would be ideal!”
Tell us about their names, Marie. “Maxence is a name I’ve had on my list since I was really little, he was a primary school sweetheart! I think it’s classic and original at the same time. And Raphaël loved it straight away.
For Maël, we thought it about it for ages and couldn’t agree whether to go for something classic or something original. And along came Maël, a contraction of Marie and Raphaël. It’s a little nod to our own names.”
Was becoming a mother a foregone conclusion for you? “No! I always knew I’d have children, but it was never my destiny. I was really clumsy with my friends’ babies! And I wanted to get married first, whereas my husband wanted to have a baby quickly. He won! But when I gave birth to Maxence it was very natural, motherhood was a real revelation for me.”
What do you think about maternal instinct? “It’s more or less pronounced in different women. Every woman copies her own mother. My mum was a real mother hen so I’m not surprised at the kind of mother I’ve become myself! We add to that what we have within ourselves. It’s a mixture of all sorts of different things. We do what we can and we all become the best mother we can be for our own children.”
Unlike her first two pregnancies, Marie and Raphaël don’t know the sex of their third child. “It’s our last pregnancy so we’re keeping it a secret.”
Are you hoping for a girl? “No, we’d take either!”
I ask her if she can confirm the myth that a third pregnancy is more difficult… “Yes, I can certainly tell the difference! I feel like I’m 110 years old! With the other kids to look after it’s exhausting, I can’t wait for it to be over! I’m also looking forward to finding out the sex of our surprise baby.”
Marie admits that she is a real mother hen. “I’m very close to my children. When they were babies I wouldn’t leave them alone for one minute, I breastfed them both, I created a bond with them. I always need them. I can’t stop myself feeling guilty when I leave for two days once a year with my husband! I hurry home from work to see them. I’m a mollycoddler!”
Did you feel like you had to make sacrifices to become a mother? “Yes. One in particular – sleep! I’m a sloth, I can sleep at any time, day or night, but my children are the opposite! Especially Maël, he’s never been good at nights, so I’ve had to sacrifice myself!”
And is it a sacrifice to be both a mother and a woman? “I think it’s very difficult to perfectly align both those roles. We put lots of pressure on ourselves these days. You have to be a mum, a woman, a working girl, you’ve got to be on top of things on every front. And clearly, that’s not possible. We need to stop with all this pressure – the perfect mother doesn’t exist. I’m trying to work on this myself.”
Emotional labour is a concept that she can relate to. “I was talking to Raphaël about this a couple of weeks ago. He said, ‘not at all, I help you!’ And of course we share the chores, but I explained the problem to him. It’s something I really care about. I feel like emotional labour is a sixth sense that women have. We take it on much more automatically than men do. The answer? Have confidence in your other half. It will work itself out.”
At home with the boys, Marie is more about positive learning than strict education. “I would like to be a bit stricter but I’m not very good at it! I do research on the methods, like active listening, etc. But I have to admit that on a daily basis it escapes us a bit.”
At the moment, Marie is having pregnancy cravings. “I really want some strawberry juice! I’ve wanted melon and peach all winter, I’ve been dreaming about nothing but juicy fruits. But during my first pregnancy I craved McDonald’s so I can’t complain!”
The people who inspire her every day are her children. “They bring out the best in me. Especially my patience. They push me, they raise me up.”
She re-energises “in my husband’s arms. It’s a bit of a cliché but I feel safe there. He calms me down, he’s my cocoon.”
Is he a good dad? “Yes, he’s an amazing dad.”
Her hopes for the future? “That my children blossom and our family remains strong and close, like it is today.”