The International Mama: My So-Called Glamorous Life

The International Mama: My so-called glamorous life

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Is (expat) life in Paris all glamour all the time? Barbara Diggs uncovers the truth behind the myth.

We expat Paris-dwellers are perceived to have the ultimate good life.

Our friends and family back home fantasize about us spending our days strolling on the banks of the Seine as cherry blossoms rain down upon our heads. We head back to our exquisitely-appointed apartments, all of which come with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Louis XV furniture and a bottle of champagne chilling in a silver bucket.

No matter what bad things befall us - broken limbs, swine flu, car accidents - the mere fact that we live in Paris makes it all better. By virtue of living here, our lives of suffused with glamour.

It probably won't help matters, but I've decided to create a "glamour scale" to make an objective assessment of the glamour level of my days. With this scale, I will attempt the convey the truth of my life in Paris.

The scale goes from 0-10, with "10" being the equivalent of me having a strawberry-and-champagne brunch on top of the Eiffel Tower during Fashion Week with the world's top models, Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld and -- let's see -- Johnny Depp, who keeps lavishing me with an embarrassing amount of attention.

At the other end of the scale, a 0 on the glamour equals... well, let's take a look at Monday.


On Monday, after my son's violin lesson (glamour scale: 5)

I took the kids to the playground at the Place des Vosges (glamour scale: 7)

After a half-hour of pleasant play in this lovely 17th century square (glamour scale: 7)

My 20-month old ran away from the sandbox and I had to chase after him (glamour scale: 4)

While I caught up with him, I see my 3.5 year old standing in the sandbox, looking around for me (glamour scale: 4)

As I urge 20-month old back to the sandbox, I see 3.5 year old drop his pants (glamour scale: 2)

I scoop up baby and race back to the sandbox, screaming "Noo! Nooooo!" (glamour scale: 0)

I arrive as he's just finished peeing into the sandbox at Place des Vosges (glamour scale: 0)

All the other parents are staring at us in disbelief? disgust? as I pull up my confused little boy's pants and gently scold him (glamour scale: -10)

I grab the kids' shovel and bucket, scoop up the pee-soaked sand, and toss it into the grass (glamour scale: -15)

I defiantly let the kids continue to play, determined not to slink off in shame (glamour scale: 1)

After a respectable amount of time has passed (5 minutes), I throw the kids and their toys in the stroller and peel out of there -- heading to the anonymity of the rides at St. Paul. (glamour scale: 5)

Total Glamour Score: 0.8333333

So there you have it. This is my so-called glamorous life.

Reprinted with permission of The International Mama.

Barbara Diggs is an American freelance writer living in Paris with her German husband and two small sons. You can read more about her attempt to survive the clash of all these cultures at The International Mama

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Loretta Champion Johnson posted:

    on 27th August 2012, 06:13:10 - Reply

    My family and I are moving to Paris in August 2013. I am reading a lot about how lonely expats are in Paris, but taking some advice from some of the blogs that I'm reading to try and help prevent that. I do have a nine year old so I'm more concerned with her settling in and I'm learning some French. Just trying to prepare as much as I can. We will be there for two years so I will try and make the best of it since I know I'm returning to the states in a couple of years. Also, we will be coming back to the States twice a year which will help with the homesickness:). Love the blog and eager to meet other expats.
  • sandy posted:

    on 1st August 2012, 15:50:19 - Reply

    For those wishing to check out the International Mama blog, here is the url:

  • donna posted:

    on 1st August 2012, 14:58:44 - Reply

    This is really funny. I love that you put a glamour factor to everything.
    I too have lived in Paris as an American for a few years, and I remember having a very difficult and lonely time there. It's interesting that so many people can't believe it when I tell them this after I reveal that I lived once in Paris. There is just this myth about those letters together that spell
    P A R I S!
    Although I did not have children (which can be even more difficult ) at the time,I can sympathize with you totally and understand what you are going through!
    I now have a five year old but do not live in a city anymore.... back in the states with a car and a house.
    Good luck with your two boys!
    Great article - can't wait to