FRANCE: “Entiendo”

FRANCE: “Entiendo”

Photo of author’s son in Paris, France.

In my other life, as I like to call it, I was the translator. I often found myself sitting at a kitchen table with school documents sprawled out between me and an anxious mother. As a family therapist with seven years of Spanish classes behind me, these were the moments that most overwhelmed me. A mother sitting across the table, watching my mouth for familiar words, nodding her head with approval, or murmuring, “No entiendo” when confused. Slowly translating each document using basic Spanish vocabulary and many hand gestures, together we unraveled the mysteries of new school enrollment, calming her fears and reservations about sending her child to yet another new school.

In the fall of 2011, I said good-bye to that life and hello, or rather, “bonjour” to a new one. My husband, two-year-old son, and I had accepted an expatriate assignment to Paris, France for two to five years. Once our things were packed and shipped and our house rented, we checked into a hotel and patiently waited for our visas to be approved, a wait we were told could be as much as two weeks. (more…)


Jacki, or “MommaExpat,” as she’s known in the Internet community, is a former family therapist turned stay-at-home mom in Paris, France. Jacki is passionate about issues as they relate to mothers and children on both domestic and international scenes, and is a Volunteer Ambassador for the Fistula Foundation. In addition to training for her first half marathon, Jacki can be found learning French in Paris and researching her next big trip. Jacki blogs at H J Underway, a chronicle of her daily life as a non-French speaking mom in France.

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