One, Two, Three and LET GO!
That’s what I did somewhere along the way caring for child number three. I let go of teaching Spanish to my children in exchange for the peace that came from mindfully listening to their own needs. In truth, by the time I had son number three, long gone were many of my unrealistic expectations I had entertained prior to become a mother in real life and not just in my head.
Remember the early stages of pregnancy dreaming up our child to be? How our bundle of joy was going to be perfect? Surely I thought, if I loved him to pieces and taught him well, how could he not? At the high of my trance, I had a picture in my head of a perfect mother with the perfect children. Among their many accomplishments, they were all going to be bilingual! Two languages? Easy! I will speak Spanish from day one, and father (American) will do the English bit. Dedication and a yearly trip to see abuelita in Argentina would definitely do the trick.
To add to my delusion, I also had the fantasy about my children appreciating being bilingual when they were at the age of reason. How “they would think it was cool” to know two languages. And yes, you read well, I actually wrote children and reason in the same sentence. Are you now in sync to my level of baby gaga-ness? First-time mothers (still under the baby spell) are probably asking: “Mi Dios, entonces que paso?” The rest of you, mothers with mileage, I can see you rolling your eyes!
Obviously, I was terribly unsophisticated in the art of what to expect when raising children. As they were born and as I planned, I spoke Spanish daily. I also sang to them Spanish lullabies as they drifted off to sleep. They heard the language from the adorable stage of toddlerhood to elementary school. Then, middle school and peer pressure came hand in hand. Around this time for the sake of being mindfully attuned to the needs of the moment I began to let Spanish go. I heard them loud and clear. They did not want to be different and bilingual, they wanted to fit in. When the teen years arrived accompanied by their moodiness, keeping up with Spanish was the last of my priorities. I quickly learned that going against the stream of their interests would not foster the mindful and long lasting relationship I dreamt to build. So I reconsidered and chose to let go of my expectations in favor of nurturing their own interests.
I cannot say I did not doubt my decision many times. Especially when abuelita kept pointing at her grandchildren’s lack of Spanish fluency. But I followed my intuition, which background.
Today to my delight as they begin to go off to college, I am a proud mom of three mostly bilingual young men. As they grew up and became worldlier they started to show interest on their own terms. A testament to the power of nonverbal modeling and knowing when to step back. My take? Expose, but never impose. The mindful approach is not the goal, but the path itself.
Share this with your familia!