May 6, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
Waves of shock and sadness reverberated all over the world this week in response to a leaked draft from the U.S. Supreme Court that, if issued as a final opinion, would not only reverse Roe v. Wade and revoke an American woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion, but also suggest how this very conservative court could take away many other rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Yesterday, we published this article on Frenchly about how French women are responding to this news. Some French women say this is a betrayal from a country thought to be a beacon of democracy and equal rights and that this precedent will affect not just Americans, but women everywhere.
I, myself, was interested in my lack of shock to the news. I felt numb. Bad or shocking news has become so commonplace, worry so palpable, that I often think I’m stuck in some wind tunnel in between fight and flight. But as the week has worn on and Mother’s Day in the U.S. has approached (in France, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 29th; in the U.S. it is this Sunday), I couldn’t help but think about the bizarre cynicism of this news and Mother’s Day in the same week.
It has prompted me to think about mothering and motherhood and what this choice to be a mother entails. Most of us have no idea of what we’re getting into when we become parents. And, obviously, some kids are planned, some are happy accidents, some are unhappy accidents that turn out wonderful or hard—it doesn’t always feel like a choice, necessarily, as inertia, a primal drive, that gives those of us who wanted to be mothers the greatest gift and others of us the greatest challenge of our lives.
But what about those of us who don’t want to be mothers? Who aren’t ready? Or are raped? Or are too young? Who are still in high school or college and want to finish? Or don’t have the resources for a child, whatever those resources might need to be? This list of nuanced what ifs could go on for pages and pages. The new French movie, Happening, which opens nationwide today and may end up being the most important movie of the year, is about a young woman who chooses her own life over her unwanted pregnancy and is an example of one such story. Andrea Meyer wrote about it for us when it was shown at Sundance.
As a mother of sons, I have been thinking more lately about how this right to choose affects not only women, but also boys and men. I want my sons to feel that they can be a part of a decision that allows the women they love to go on with their lives the way those women envision, and also allows my sons to do the same. A society full of children that are wanted and loved is always a better society.
And with global warming and overpopulation, every baby should be prized, wanted, cared for, loved. No judgements if you just don’t want one right now, can’t pay for one, don’t think your family can handle a third, whatever it is. What I don’t understand is how we can’t collectively see that, in the end, when you add it all up, allowing women to choose protects men and boys as much as it does women. And it also protects so much more: the natural world, precious resources and their availability, and just about every overburdened system that should help our societies function. Choosing is a human matter, not a political one.
This Sunday, when my sons and husband bring me a café crème in bed, I will be celebrating as much my own choice to become a mother, the greatest and most fulfilling joy of my life, as I will the brave choices women make all over the world not to have children they do not want or cannot take care of. We need both to make the world a safer and more just place.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
Last weekend, my family and I went to see a new French show on Broadway based on the book, The Little Prince. The costumes, lights, acrobatics and amazing dance performances were incandescent. There are some images I will never forget: the prince dancing with his “rose” (in this case, a woman dressed in an amazing red dress); the prince and a fox sitting next to each other watching a sunset. It was beautiful. But it isn’t a play, really. It’s more of a dance and acrobatics show than a story. Unfortunately, it is closing soon, but if you can snag a ticket this weekend, do so!
If you are staying in this weekend and want to binge watch and laugh, Frenchly reviewed the British remake of Call My Agent! this week—I can’t wait to watch it. Helena Bonham Carter makes anything worth the time.
We also have two pieces that explain “Mai ‘68,” when Paris came to a halt under civil unrest, one here and here, and also a guide to gluten-free shopping in France (great to bookmark if you are going this spring or summer!)
Now for things to do, we just published this list of five French events around the U.S. this month: Cézanne and a Haitian play in Chicago; Agnès Varda in Minneapolis; Édouard Louis in NYC and a “Night of Ideas” staged all over the U.S.
Please pick up your copy of The Anomaly, which is our next book club pick—details TBA.
If you missed our webinar yesterday that took us to the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux and the Lascaux caves, you can watch it here. I loved virtually voyaging with our guides!
In between baseball and play rehearsals and gardening and planting flowers to celebrate our no mow May, my guys are making me this amazing Lisbon Chocolate Cake from Dorie Greenspan, whom we just adore at Frenchly. Our wonderful writer, Philip Ruskin, got to interview her last fall.
I might be gilding the lily, but I am hoping for an afternoon slice, outside in a chair in the sun, pants all grubby from gardening, with a nice cup of tea in my hand and my boys nearby—to me, that couldn’t be a better Mother’s Day.
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