(I wrote this letter to Jacob last week while sitting in a hotel room in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The internet was kind of unreliable, and I planned to try to re-post it later that day, but that never happened...)
December 15, 2011
Not too much longer! 4 more days til I get to give you a big hug, and kiss those sweet cheeks!! Your dad and I have missed you so so much, but we are very proud of how good you have been. Your Mimi and Papaw told us you have done really well at daycare, and seem to really enjoy being there. You love Ms Pam, and for that I am truly thankful. Now, I am afraid you are going to be bored with just me after having little friends to play with every day.
Today, your dad and I handed in the keys for the apartment in France. As much as I won't miss apartment living, I am going to miss that apartment because of all of the wonderful memories we made there. It was your very first home! I will always hold it in a very special place in my heart.
But more than the apartment, I am going to miss all of the friends we made in France. It makes me sad that you were too young to really know or remember all of these wonderful people that loved you and prayed for you from the minute we told them we were expecting you. And now, a lot of those friends have babies too. Oh how much fun we could have in just a few years with all of the little ones running around together. Little ones from many different cultures playing together, teaching each other new games and new words. Your French would undoubtedly be far better than mine ever was...
Even though you won't remember this beautiful country that you were born in, I hope that your dad and I will impress upon you the life lessons we have learned during our 3 years here:
-Respect and appreciate other cultures. While we want you to always be proud to be an American, don't get caught in the common trap that Americans are better than everyone else. In fact, in a lot of respects, we have a lot to learn from others. I hope that you will have the love of travel, so you can see for yourself this amazing world we live in.
-Life is what you make of it. Even knowing that this assignment in France was just a few years, I heard stories and saw myself how people handle it in all different ways. Some were happy for the experience and truly appreciated it. Some had a bad attitude and let that ruin their time here. This is a lesson that I am planning to put to use in Oklahoma. Your dad and I really wanted to go back to Greenville after France. To be close to family. We were disappointed when the assignment was OK. But, I am sure we will be very happy there. If we make the decision and choose to be happy and make a good life for ourselves.
-Life goes by quickly. Don't let it pass you by! These three years have flown by! Because it was such a defined time, it is easy to look back and think about what we said we would do, and what we actually did. One example is my French. Everyone told me, “oh, once you are there and hear it every day....it will be no problem.” Not! This is a big fat lie they tell the expat wives so they don't get scared off. I wish I had pushed myself harder in the beginning. I think that would have really changed my experience here. But, I kept putting it off, thinking I had three whole years to learn it. Oh well, c'est la vie.
Those are just a few of the things we learned while in France. We also learned a lot about the culture, and I hope that we teach you those things as well. Your dad will have to teach you the language, because, well see last paragraph. You also have a sweet godbrother, Imanol, in France. Your dad and I really, really want you two to have a relationship. With the distance, it is going to take a lot of effort. But it will be worth it! We will definitely miss this country. But right now, I really miss you! Can't wait to see you!!!