The Spanish Promise
One little promise to my kids, and little did I know it would determine the mother I would become, the friends I would make and the environment I would surround myself with.
Five years ago, I promised my newborn that I would give him the gift of speaking Spanish. From that day forward, I did everything in Spanish that any first-time mom would do. I narrated my day to him in Spanish. Played with him in Spanish. Sang only in Spanish. I even signed to him in Spanish. My husband would joke that as soon as he stepped out of his home office, he would be transported into a home in Latin America. I was doing a great job of setting up the foundation for a bilingual household, but those first-time-mom doubts started creeping in...
I had read that the baby would have a higher IQ if he slept two naps a day at home in his crib, but I felt like I was under house arrest. I felt isolated and needed interaction — fast. But I was still crazy enough about creating a Spanish environment that I sought out only Spanish interactions. Luckily for me, I discovered there was a Colombian nanny (I’ll call her Nana) who worked down the street with a baby the same age as my son.
I was set. I had social interactions. And I had successfully created a Spanish-only environment for my son. Life was good. Nana and I would go on walks together, make Latin food together, play Latin music in the background…. She was my co-parent, and it was all taking place in Spanish. We became so close that she became like an aunt to me and my son.
But I felt that unhappiness creeping in again. I had isolated myself to preserve a pure Spanish-speaking environment without considering the needs I had as a person. I needed friends. I needed conversations that stimulated me. I needed to feel young again. You know, maybe a happy hour with girlfriends. And honestly, who was I kidding? I wasn’t living in Latin America. A true representation of life was going to be a mixed one.
And so started my adventure with Meetup — and finding all those groups that spoke to the person I had been and the new me with baby in tow. I am grateful to all the wonderful mothers I have met along the way. And although they may not all speak Spanish, I’ve discovered they admire that I do, and wish that someday their child will, too.
Fast forward five years, and my two children are completely bilingual. They may not always speak Spanish back to me, but it has been my consistency, exposure and confidence that has made it possible. So keep at it. All the hard work is worth it, when you find you can learn, love and laugh together in multiple languages.
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