Bilingual is Better

There are so many wonderful reasons why I love being a mom to a bilingual and bicultural child. And beyond the long-term benefits that it will have for my son as he navigates through life, I keep coming back to a nostalgic feeling of keeping a connection between my son and my home country of Venezuela.

I was born in Caracas and we moved to the Unites States in 1980 when I was just 6-years-old. According to my mother, I quickly became a gringita and immersed in the American life, almost losing my Spanish completely. While my mom was busy being a student, she would send me to Venezuela during my summers to spend time with my father, mi abuela, tia-abuela y el resto de la familia.

Today, I’m very thankful for that experience and credit those summers with helping me to shape my worldview and the mother that I am today. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my Spanish and started to embrace my culture while in college in Colorado.

My husband Sean is a native of Colorado and we met while we both lived in a funky and highly Hispanic neighborhood in Northwest Denver. We both picked the neighborhood because of the high influence of Latino culture and loved living there. Having a husband that also loves the culture and who is also bilingual helps to keep the culture alive in our family.

Living in Northwest Denver was a perfect place for William to get a head-start into Hispanic culture. Our neighborhood had a local mercado, a lovely park and local Mexican restaurants that we visited frequently. It definitely made my job as a bilingual mami much easier.

In May of 2010 we moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, giving up our lovely neighborhood and friends. As a mother I’ve had to pull together resources and have made more of a commitment to make sure Spanish is around William on a daily basis. It’s definitely been more of a challenge for me and thankfully I found Spanglishbaby.com. It’s helped me tremendously to stay motivated and know there are other mamis that are on the multicultural journey. 

I have a lot of guilt about not speaking solely Spanish in the home but we do pick certain meals where we do speak only Spanish, we do a word of the week, read books in Spanish, and when I have to discipline, Spanish comes in handy. For some reason he just perks up when mami speaks Spanish for it means business.

Keeping William close to where his mami’s roots are, as well as his papi’s roots, is important to me. Though he won’t have the same benefits that I did spending summers in Venezuela, there are countless resources to help us during this journey.

Valentina Garcia-Gerdes is a stay at home mother and an advocate for dual language and dual language schools,  freedom of speech, journalism, social media, good parenting, immigration and immigrant rights among other things. She loves to cook, be with my family, travel, take photos, organic gardening and explore the new. She is learning to love to write again in her blog: World View Mother.

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