motherhood: audrey fitzjohn
Audrey Fitzjohn is a mama of one living in Hamilton with her family and expecting a little girl to add to their brood soon. We talked to her about her French roots and journey of parenthood so far, we hope you enjoy learning a little about them and life across France and New Zealand!
I am the happy mother...
of Charles (4 ½) and currently expecting our second child. I work as a freelance editorial photographer and stylist, mostly specialised in culinary, interior and lifestyle shoots. I have had 5 books (recipe & interiors) published in France. I work part time from home, although work does spread to the evenings and the weekends sometimes. Due to demand I have recently started accepting a few newborn shoots and private events too.
We live in Hamilton but I am originally from France. I met my husband Elliot in Paris 11 years ago and we have lived in New Zeland for the last 9 years.
The best thing about living in Hamilton...
is that it is an amazing city for families. Everything is easy here, within access and made for families. We are also lucky to have a pretty cool creative crowd who is driving the city into a very neat direction. Oh and we hardly have any traffic jams! Everything is facilitated for families, we have great playgrounds, many groups of mothers meeting around various activities for their children, lovely cafes and a lot of space.
In France, children are...
expected to behave very early on, they are a part of a lot of social events yet expected not to disturb them. Schooling is a lot more formal and children spend longer days in school. I think that their sense of artistic culture is more nurtured, children are taken to museums, they learn to play one classical instrument and speak different languages, including latin and even ancient greek (which was my case). In a way the children there are raised in a more "urban" way since most of the population lives in very large cities. In French culture children are not the centre of the world, it is very frowned upon for parents to always talk about their children or their achievements or for children to cut the conversation two adults might be having. Children are absolutely loved but adults also love and cultivate their own lives as individuals.
Funnily enough when children enter their teenage years the French parenting style is yet different again, as the child grows older more "doors" open for him socially and he slowly makes his way into adulthood. For example children will start being asked to reason on serious questions during family dinners and be invited to become part of conversations more and more often. A real bond gets created during the teenage years usually.
New Zealand parents on the opposite are more gentle and patient...
French parents can be very strict and hard on their children. I think both experiences impacted my parenting style in the sense that I have taken what I like best from both sides, a bit a of stricteness mixed with a lot of respect. I am very close to Charles and have a great relationship with him, yet I have always had expectations that I apply firmly in terms of politeness and behaviour. We can easily go out with him to a restaurant and enjoy a pleasant evening together without the help of electronic devices, a major goal for a French mother haha!
I do not compare myself to other mothers...
I love being a mother but it is not the sole focus of my life, I find joy and fulfilment in many other areas of my life and that allows me not to stress and focus on every single decision I make as a mother. One of the most challenging things I have come across as a parent has been trying to conceive this second baby... it was so unexpectidly difficult, with loss and heartache. It took a very long time for me to be diagnosed with PCOS and receive appropriate help. It was all mentally challenging and draining, especially because we had a lot to be happy about in our life yet fertility struggles robbed a lot from us during those two years.
Some words of wisdom
Whenever I feel I am hitting a challenging phase in mother hood I ask myself : "do I know any adult who never stopped screaming since they were 4 moths old?" Nope, so my baby will stop crying... eventually! Children grow into adults at some point, that is the thought I have to cling to at times!
On finding balance
I don't know if I have found an overall balance yet, I must say that my husband is an amazing hands on father and husband, he helps with everything and that makes a huge difference to the day to day. Personally I need the quiet to feel good so I start my day with 10 minutes of meditation, I often meditate for longer periods if I feel stressed. I have also been using a bullet journal for years wich has been a wonderful way to stay organised without feeling overwhelmed. When I am not pregnant I run to let loose and to get an instant "feel good" kick.
Regarding work I think over time I have gotten better at planning my jobs so they don't all happen at once. I also do not undervalue my work, that way I never drag my feet to any job and I am always enthousiast about giving each project my all.
A day in the life
I live… in Hamilton
I am currently reading… "Le trottoir au soleil" by Philippe Delerm, short stories by one of my favourite authors
I often find myself cooking… crêpes!
I’m listening to… UB40, Snoop Dog, Agnes Obel...
My weekends start with… a sleep in
One item I can’t live without is… my camera
Thank you Audrey for giving us a glimpse into life with your sweet family, we can't wait for the arrival of your wee girl xx Nb
mums around the world – nicolette gawthrop
As part of Our Mums Around the World series we ask mums living in all different places about themselves, their little ones and their location. We loved hearing from Nicolette Gawthrop, mum and homemaker, on what it’s like living and raising a family in Fayetteville, Arkansas.