Meet the PJs
(yup, that’s us. We just also happen to be in our PJs)
I’m just starting out with this blogging lark, so thought it only fitting that one of my first posts should be a little bit about me and my little family of PJs. PJ is short for Pignal-Jacquard, and we’ve got my French husband to thank for that mouthful. My name’s Ruth and this is me in bed with Frenchie and our two little monkeys, Gabriella and Raphaël. We don’t always look this smiley (especially Gabriella) at 6am on a weekend, but Frenchie had just bought himself a selfie stick and we were having fun messing about before it all kicked off.
Gabriella with her baby brother Raphaël
Here are my first top five facts about the PJs
1. I used to be my husband’s teacher
Before you call child services, you’ll be pleased to know he was at uni, not at school. After I graduated I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with myself so I went off to live in Dijon for a year as a lectrice, or teaching assistant. Little did I know he’d end up following me back to the UK, much to my mother’s horror. She’d warned me about Frenchmen, ‘they all have mistresses, you know’. Let’s just hope I’ll never have to write THAT post. Oh, and for the record, I never did end up becoming a teacher even though, 20 years on, my dentist still asks me how school’s going (maybe he mistakes me for a student thanks to my youthful glow?)
The PJs on our wedding day in 2009
2. My husband never wanted kids
We got together when we were a very young 22, so never really had the ‘do you want kids’ conversation. Our twenties were taken up with years of studying, moving to London and being skint as we started our early careers and paid a fortune in rent. Our early thirties were spend saving to buy a flat followed by getting married and finally having some nice holidays. And then, boom. Suddenly I wanted kids. But it turned out Frenchie really wasn’t that fussed. I won’t deny it, it was a particularly challenging few years in our marriage, but he finally came around to the idea, even if he then said he’d only ever have one child. All I can say is that I married a wonderful man who lives by the motto ‘il n’y a qu’on con qui ne change pas d’avis’ (only a fool never changes his mind) so here we are, two kids later. And back to being skint.
The man who never wanted kids
3. We all speak French at home
My hubby and I have always spoken a bit of Franglais at home, but when it came to having kids, it made sense to make it a French household. Many people have heard of the ‘one parent, one language’ (or OPOL) approach, but there are so many ways to bring up your kids bilingually and this works well for us (so far). Living in the UK, English will be picked up anyway and we thought it wouldn’t be enough to just hear French from their dad on an evening or at weekends while I’m off on maternity leave. Thankfully my French is just about fluent enough that I can speak it to them even when I’m on my own. I just hope they’ll forgive me one day when they realise they speak French with a Geordie accent.
4. We’re in this together, alone
Teddington in South West London is our home, which is miles away from what little family we have between us. I’m originally from Durham in the NE of England and I don’t get to see my brother and his gorgeous family as often as I’d like to thanks to the torturous 5-6 hour journey up the M1. Frenchie’s brother and sister live in different parts of France with their families, so we don’t get to see them often enough, either. We’re also pretty unique in that none of our parents are with us any more. This often leaves a big gaping hole in my heart as I think of how much our parents have missed out on over the years, especially recently with the arrival of more grandchildren. So all in all, we’re pretty much running this ship on our own. It can be tough when I hear other people complaining about their parents or in-laws and especially when they pop over to help out now and again. I suppose our kids won’t know any differently, but I really do wish they had more family involved in their everyday lives.
5. ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat’ (Jaws)
Teddington is a lovely part of the country but, like most of the outer London area, house prices are ridiculously expensive. We never quite made the jump to a house, so here we are, still, in our two bedroom flat. On the 3rd floor. Without a lift. But of course, we’d never really planned on having two kids. It does my head in on a daily basis, but I just keep reminding myself that I’d rather have a small house full of
sleepless, whining toddlers people and laughter than a big house that’s pretty, but empty (on second thoughts…). And when I’m having a particularly bad day, I think of my poor late mam who had to share a bed with two of her sisters when she was little. Then I remember even they didn’t have to go up and down 42 steps every day…
This is not our house