paper bag of baguettes SHARON WROTE: For nearly a decade before having kids, I lived in Paris and had a fun, fancy job schmoozing with (cute) government delegates to Climate Change talks.  Had an affair with one, too.  I had a charming apartment, a great wardrobe, cash to spare and tons of frequent flyers miles racked up on business trips abroad.  French and English were one in the same, dinnertime was ten p.m. and lunch – mandatory, bien sur – lasted daily from noon to two.  Ooh la la!  Eventually, I met a man (a Franco-Italian Cohen to boot) and settled with him in the picturesque outskirts of Aix-en-Provence.  What more could we ask for?

A lot, it turns out.  Unfortunately, life in France is hard for entrepreneurs like my husband, and after our first son was born in ’99, he begged me to pick up and move stateside.  It took me three years to relent and agree to leave behind olive trees and year-round sunshine, baguettes, eight-week vacations and free childcare.  It then took me another three to get used to living in suburbia, carpooling, playdating and eating peanut-butter sandwiches on the run.  But my husband was right: working life is easier here, for him and for me.  Which makes family life easier, too.  Still, even now – ten years and a second son later – I often find it hard to believe how many wonderful things we had to give up in order for everything to truly be BETTER.  And that this frumpy, American mom I’ve become is happy despite being… Formerly French.

Photo by Jules:Stonesoup CC