This is a picture of my mother in 1968. She is sitting next to my father — then her boyfriend — in my uncle’s apartment in Paris. My mother is 22, and she is wearing a dress she had made for herself: she sewed many of her own clothes back then, and still does today (she even writes a sewing blog: coupecouture.fr). She made a lot of dresses for us when my sister and I were little, and cute outfits for our dolls, too.
It is difficult to identify a single most important thing I have learnt from my mother, as I feel she has shaped me in very many ways, of course. But one thing that stands out in my mind is that she has shown me it is possible to “do it all”: to have a happy, lasting marriage (my parents have now been married 41 years), to have a career (she is retired now, but she was an engineer, a career path she chose at a time when very few women did), to raise children as a working mother and be very present in their lives, to put a home-cooked and delicious dinner on the table every single night, and to pursue her own interests in art, cinema and literature. All of this she did smoothly and calmly, without appearing to struggle to align her priorities, or resent any of her responsibilities.
I’m not saying my mother is superhuman, and I’m sure she had moments when she was exhausted and stressed out and overwhelmed. But on the whole she didn’t seem to be: she knew what was important to her, and she didn’t try to do a million more things than possible or necessary. This is an inspiring and reassuring example for me, because I feel that the message young women of our time hear, all the time and from every source, is that life is demanding and crazy and stressful, and that wanting to have a career, a family, and a fulfilled personal life is hoping for the impossible. My mother is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be.
– Clotilde Dusoulier
Clotilde Dusoulier is a 31 year old food writer and blogger living in Paris, France. She’s the author of “Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen.”
Clotilde’s website: Chocolate & Zucchini
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– Interview by Elena Rossini