A Moment of TransPARENTSy


January 30, 2013 by empraise

Maybe it’s because we’ve had the flu and bronchitis here this past week.  Maybe I am just deliriously tired from being up in the night with my 17 month old sick with fever, coughing.  Maybe it’s that all the windows in our apartment are so dirty (inside and out) that I feel like I am living in the playzone at McDonalds.  Maybe it’s because there are dry pinto beans buried deep in my shag rug from this morning’s ill-advised “indoor play activity” I found on the internet.  Maybe it’s the failed loaf of bread, or the chapped knuckles that are cracking from too much dish water (or air that is too dry). Maybe it’s the pounding headache.

But whatever the reason…I want to share these moments of doubt with you.  Lately I have had this desire to speak English to Little M.  It’s so strong that I have decided to allow myself the option.  Only mixing English into our daily conversation doesn’t seem to be the cure for what ails me.  It only makes me more frustrated as I think, “Can he even understand me? Oh no, what have I done…not being able to speak my native tongue with my own child! Am I confusing him more by switching back and forth?  Maybe I should just give up all together…is it too late for him to learn English?  But will I regret having made it this far and then thrown in the towel?”

I sometimes think I second-guess myself enough when it comes to training and disciplining my child…why would I add another variable into the mix?  And as M’s toddler phase moves into full swing, I realize how important it is going to be to communicate with him, sooner rather than later.  At this point, I think I’m going to be able to communicate with him in Spanish sooner than in English.  But my Spanish is sub-par.  I know this.  A million times a day I need to look up a word but don’t because I’m driven to complete distraction by this energetic boy who dominates my conscious with his every waking move.


There are no books written by people in our situation.  Two parents, two minority languages, neither parent a native speaker…no “reason” for multilingualism like family, heritage, culture. On days like this, I ask myself, “Why?” and today at least, I have no good answer.  My only answer today is that it has become such a habit that I can’t NOT speak Spanish to Michael.  It’s the language I’ve spoken to him since his birth.  Flawed as it may be, even if I speak English to Michael from today forward, I will still incorporate a lot of Spanish.  “No toques” is what flies from my mouth when he reaches for something forbidden.  “Duerme tranquilo precioso….te amo” how I lay him down to sleep.  For better or for worse, español is an integral part of our communication.


8 thoughts on “A Moment of TransPARENTSy

  1. Kriste says:

    You are doing a great job and I am jealous that you are able to share such a powerful language with your son! Hang in there and keep doing what you are doing… he is a vibrant little guy that will appreciate his mom and dad introducing him to other languages/cultures!

  2. Debbie says:

    Em, God hand picked you to be this little tornado’s mommy and daddy. He was a blessing prayed long and hard for.and he is awesome. My soul sings with each new post, or picture. Thanks for sharing the good and bad with us. This invites us to be prayer warriors for your family. I love you and am so proud of both you and Monty for being the parents God has called you to be. What an adventure you have undertaken, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor for a minute or two. Be still and know He is Your God and Rock. Buck up little camper the ride is long and hard and you are up for the task. I love and miss you

  3. Bonne Maman says:

    I got a shiver down my spine when I read your post.

    Oh man… I have got that t-shirt. Seriously. From my own experience I want to encourage you to stick with it. Speak English to Michael if you want, but speak Spanish too and feel around it all for a week or so to see where your gut leads you. I know that I have had times where I have felt so overhwelmed by the enormity of raising a bilingual child using a non-native language (i would definitley say that the non-native element adds sooooo much pressure to the already difficult task of speaking minority languages with children). It really does seem that these moments of doubt and self critiscism come when I am at my most tired and vulnerable just like it has with you right now. Its for this reason that i say take a step back, take a breath and just go with it..whatever ‘it’ may be. I’m not trying to sound all airy fairy either i’m just trying to stress to you that you will, without a doubt, come out of the other side of this with a decision that works for your family and feels right. On the other side it wont feel so intense. I always try and remind myself that language is only one element of our life and family relationship. Again, for non-native parents, I think that its easier to lose sight of this sometimes as we feel so invested in our ‘unusual’ choice..defensive even (becuase of the constant feeling that we need to have a reason to be doing what we are doing since we dont have the usual reasons you mention like culture, heritage or family ties).

    • empraise says:

      You are so right Bonne…I really appreciate your perspective because you can truly relate!! I have decided to “go with it” as you say and ride out the rough patch on the coat tails of the choices I have already made. When the dust settles, we’ll see if anything looks different 🙂 Thank you for reaching out and offering encouragement!

  4. Mary Beth Petr says:

    Sweetheart, the decision was made and bad days must be endured. If you both have prayed about it and think it was the correct decision then stick with it. You may have times where you are frustrated or he is because of lack of skills but with time it will be OK. He may need to be in an Englsih speaking nursery school soon if you plan to have that as his language of education. Read to him in English and get him hooked on books he can build his vocabulary that way. Remember the books Daddy read to you! Hugs Mom

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