Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Understanding

As many of you may recall, Dan and I have each been chosen to be sling diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love. This is my second of six posts that I will be sharing here on the blog (you can find my first post here), and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram a little later on. Today my post will center on the theme of understanding. Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this journey with us.

My sweet little Oswin,

I am often not understood. I wouldn't say that I'm misunderstood, as this would point to some level of understanding between the two conversational parties in question. No, I would lean more towards the path of being not understood.

As an expat, I've found myself butchering the French language for the last 4 and a 1/2 years. Sometimes I get on these streaks where I do really well, and can actually have conversations with native french speakers...most of the time I'm just barely getting by. 

Why? Because for me, French is a difficult language. I try very hard. I study. I sing the french nursery songs with you. I can read you some french board books and read them well. I haggle well at the flea market, here known as les puces. But, the rest of the time is a struggle. The pronunciations for me are incredibly difficult. I find that in French it seems that for every word, there are three different pronunciations for the same spelling, and one of the possible pronunciations is a curse word. Somehow I always manage to say the curse word. 

Like that time I asked for an "assful of olives" at the market. 

Mon dieu.

I've found that where my verbal skills often lack the ability to be understood, I've been fortunate enough to be met with immense understanding from those who don't understand me. They see the struggle and still, to this day, the palpable nervousness that is felt when I am left to the ordering of things in French. Or asking for directions. Or simply trying to hold a simple conversation about how big you've gotten since our neighbor saw you last. And yet, rather than scoff at me and treat me poorly for not being fluent, or for being a foreigner, they appreciate that I'm making an effort to assimilate, and they are kind. And patient. And will play the game of charades that often results by trying to have my needs met or be conversationally understood. They sympathize and empathize with my moment, and as a result, I feel empowered to try again the next day, even if it means a little pointing at the particular cheese I'd like from the counter. 

I've learned a lot from the French, in particular from our wonderful neighbors. I've never been made to feel like an outsider in our teeny tiny town, even if I am embarrassed by the low level of French that I can speak. People still include us and greet us with open arms, well, actually more with bisous, despite the fact that I can't hold a lengthy conversation with them. Lately I've been thinking about how this translates back to you Oswin, because we are often trying to understand what your different sounds, cries, and actions mean. Just when we think we've gotten you figured out, you go and grow up just a little bit more, and we are sent back to the drawing board. I often look at these instances as reminders of myself trying to make it as an expat: we're both trying to speak a new language, trying have our needs met, trying to put ourselves out there so that others may get to know us. I want to empower you to find your voice, just as my daily encounters with those in our small flower village continually help me to find mine. I want to show you the same patience they have shown me, as we continue on this journey together.

Don't forget that as you learn to find your voice, that you should reciprocate the same respect that understanding is built upon towards others. Be kind, always. Be kind, but know when to stand up for yourself. You can be kind and strong in this life. Learn to listen. Truly hear people. You don't have to agree with everything someone says, but listen and respond accordingly. Your Papa is very good at this. Having varying opinions and ideas is the spice of life, though too often it's seen as something more vile. A conversation can still be a conversation of varying opinions, if those involved let it be just that. Empathize, put yourself in their shoes, and help others when you can. Spread goodness and sunshine everywhere you go, even when rain clouds are present.    

You are learning so much all the time, from the English we speak in the house, to the french that you hear when we're out and about, to our "cooking lessons" while I make your lunch, and Papa reading you his favorite Calculus Book for Infants (maybe that's why you sleep so well at night?). As you get older, you'll not only be trying to be understood and understand others, but to understand yourself as well. Understanding yourself can come in different forms, and doesn't always come easy. I spent so many years going down the paths I thought I was supposed to take, that when I realized they were not my true desire I felt completely lost. What I didn't realize at the time was that feeling lost is sometimes that best thing that can happen to you. When someone is lost they often wander, and when we wander we often find new interests and experiences that lead us to truly know whatwe want out of our one precious life. I didn't feel like I began to truly know what I wanted for my future until a short period before meeting your Papa, and then it all seemed so natural to me. I found the things that were interesting to me, I pushed away the ones that no longer served me, were no longer positive for me, and things fell into place. If you had told me seven years ago, when I was still in graduate school, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life teaching yoga, planting fig trees, and being a stay at home mama, I wouldn't have believed you. I hope that as you get older you learn to listen to that little voice inside of you that says, "Yes! Do this!" You may not know why, but if it peaks your interest and passions, learn more about it. Educate yourself on the topic. Learn all you can. Integrate it into your life. Try it on and see how you feel. Because understanding yourself, and the things that will get you out of bed in the morning, is one of the most beautiful gifts that we can give to ourselves. Create a life that you love. Make it yours. And everything else will fall into place.    



Sling pictured: Simple Linen Baby Sling in Driftwood by Sakura Bloom


  1. Just read the full entry now! Amazing photos - your little town is beautiful! Also: love your hat! Calculus for Infants? Is that an actual book? LOVE your final words: "create a life that you love. make it yours. everything else will fall into place."

    1. Thanks Rachel! The hat is from H & M! And yep, Dan's favorite bedtime read to Oswin is called "Introductory Calculus for Infants," it's a real page turner....for him. Ha!