Appreciating the cultural journey with your little one

The first few months with my Little Peanut are a total blur! Not necessarily because it all went by so fast, even though it did, but because I was just so exhausted! As a new mom, I obsessed over so many of the little things.  Was she getting enough daytime/nighttime sleep? How long has it been since her last meal? Has she had enough tummy time today? AGH!

Even though I was loving every minute of her sweet cuddles and our time together, I was no doubt a wee bit stressed out!  Newborns are hard work and no matter how much you prepare when you are in the trenches at 3 AM in the morning, it can be tough!  But like every other first time mom, I eventually found my sanity.  However, the way I found it was unexpected to me. It finally came the day I started infusing culture into our interactions.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was sitting in the rocking chair in her bedroom trying to get her to fall asleep for her nap when I asked myself “How did my mother do this before me? What about my grandmother? And her mother?”

The lightbulb finally came on! Before I knew I was singing those beloved Venezuelan lullabies that had been passed down to me for generations.  Not only were they automatically soothing to Little Peanut but they were soothing for me.  They brought rich memories from my childhood that in a way I was indirectly sharing now with my little one.

I immediately had a new found appreciation for my own culture and realized that if I want my daughter to appreciate it as much as I do, it is never too early to start.  Ever since that day, I sing what I have come to call our Spanish lullaby medley before every nap.  The best part is that I am no longer the only one signing, my daughter has become my signing partner and she absolutely loves it.

These songs are now such a big part of who she is and I love that from an early age she now has a cultural connection to my roots and really her roots.  As she has gotten older, we have added even more to our singing repertoire. We know sing many of the poems from Pio Peep, a wonderful bilingual book with many of the songs that were once sung to me as a child.

I think many times we save these cultural connections for when our children are older.  We assume that they will understand them and appreciate them more when they are a little wiser.  This may very well be the case for some activities but there is plenty we can start sharing with them from the moment they enter the world.  Let’s start cultivating an appreciation for their heritage culture early on so that they can become on their way to becoming world citizens.

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