“I’m more of a mother hen. Before becoming a mum, I imagined what it might be like, and I think I’ve turned out quite differently.
For me, a mother and their child have a taming effect on each other. You’re a bit scared to start with, but you discover yourselves gradually, you learn to get to know each other little by little, and then to recognise each other’s needs. The bond is established slowly but surely, and you love each other forevermore!”
Pauline is Simon’s mum. She explains the choice of name to me. “Simon’s dad and I initially had more original ideas for his name, but we reconsidered. It’s his dad who proposed calling our child Simon, a name which I think is sweet, simple at the same time, well-known but not too common.”
I ask Pauline to talk to us about herself. “I am very impatient! Simon teaches me not to be so much anymore. With a child, everything takes so much more time! I try to be a bit more measured and less quick tempered, and I’m making remarkable progress!”
During our discussion about maternity, our mother hen tells of her pregnancy. “I couldn’t wait to have Simon and I was so happy to find out that I was finally pregnant. I was so delighted about his arrival, and yet I didn’t like being pregnant. I already loved the baby I was carrying, with all my heart and all my strength, but I was a bit apprehensive because I don’t feel that I understand or experience the maternal instinct that characterises some mothers.”
Did she feel that she was sacrificing something to become a mother?
“I don’t really like the word sacrifice. I had to adapt of course, and I think I’ve grown. Above all I’ve discovered the power of maternal love, this immense thing that transports you, supports you and carries you. It’s unsettling, magical and incredible all at the same time.“
Do you find it complicated, being a woman and a mother?
“It’s about finding a balance. For the moment, I still compartmentalise those two parts of my life too strictly. I think that I still need a bit of time.”
We talk about how she organises herself as a separated mother, and I ask her if she’s happy with this. “We share Simon’s care and we work in a very flexible way. We have a shared calendar on Google, and we take it in turns to sign up for three, four or five days each, it depends.
Shortly after our separation, I went to see a child psychiatrist to ask her about this. She told me that routine was up to both of us and that we would soon realise if it suited Simon or not. For now, this routine seems to suit him and it allows us to see Simon more regularly.
And personally, I find that a week without him is really long and that a week alone with him is difficult to reconcile with my working routine.”
Every morning Simon has a little debrief with his timetable: “he always knows who is coming to get him and in which of his two houses he’ll be sleeping that night. He has a second comforter bought on a second-hand site, because it was impossible to find it in the shops, and a duplicate wardrobe. In the blue house is his and his dad’s, and in the red house, ours. I try as much as possible to ban the monikers ‘dad’s house’, ‘mum’s house’. Simon has two houses which are his own and in which I don’t want him to feel ‘invited’. Simon very quickly adopted the colours of the respective doors of his two appartments.
When all three of us are in Paris, we share the weekend and reconvene on Saturdays at the end of the afternoon. Personally, I find that this works really well. It allows us to have one evening and one whole day with Simon and one day and one evening without him. The week flies by at top speed, and these moments are the only ones where we can really take the time to be together, to organise little workshops, to stop for an americano and a glass of milk, or to go and see children’s exhibitions.”
Pauline is an intellectual property lawyer. “I mainly work for an associate who has children herself. We have an agreement that I’ll leave at 7pm on the evenings that Simon’s sleeping at his red house. On those evenings, I eat at the same time as him and do some more work if necessary after putting him to bed.”
Our mother hen intends to convey to Simon “an appetite for effort and the meaning of work. These ideas are fundamental for me. They are synonymous with liberty.”
On the weekend evenings when they are together, Pauline and Simon have their little rituals.
“We cook together. He eats fully dressed, which he finds amazing every time! He decorates his dessert with thousands of sweeties and biscuits. Then Simon takes a long bubble bath with almost all his Playmobil. Once he’s out, he chooses the tattoo of the week (a fox, an ice-cream, a dinosaur, etc.) that we apply to his forearm with great ceremony!
Finally, we read two books, and we whisper our three secrets: I love you, life is beautiful and you are the most enormous of all my treasures, we kiss the moon and voilà, into bed!“