From Exchange Student to Mama in France: Looking Back and Ahead

Ten years have passed since I was an exchange student in France; seven years since my husband and I last traveled there. Now I'm planning our first visit to France as a family--an extended trip this summer through autumn. We'll start in Paris as tourists, stay with friends in the countryside, and finish in Lyon as inhabitants while my daughter begins school alongside other young francophones.

  My twenty-something self in France

My twenty-something self in France

I've never been a mama in France--only a university student and part-time English teacher, delighting in the opportunity to live and work in a culture I adored. I had a supportive French family, a lucrative and fulfilling job, a small church to stretch my spirit, and time to spare, allowing me to write, travel, and connect deeply with friends.  If it weren't for my American boyfriend (now husband) back home, I might not have left.

Now, as a mama, I want to help my children adopt la France into their hearts. Initially we'll visit parks, pools, and a few child-friendly attractions, taking advantage of summer vacation as families do, but hopefully we'll settle in to a routine alongside the rest of France when la rentrée arrives in September. I'll be parenting alone in France that month while my husband returns to his job in the States, but he and I believe that the linguistic and cultural benefits for our children will be worth the sadness of being separated for several weeks. I pray we're right, and I'd appreciate your prayers too. Here's to raising little global citizens, and to the courage it takes to establish a family life abroad, even just for a season.

  Eiffel family dance photo by  Philippe Put

Eiffel family dance photo by Philippe Put