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I haven’t seen the clouds for many months but they just came back to rain all over my castellano-learning parade.

I guess I haven’t been making much of an effort with Spanish lately. Scratch that, I know I haven’t been making an effort. I just had a baby and in the final weeks of pregnancy I focused everything on the birth and preparing for baby’s arrival. Doctors visits and baby classes had the potential to confuse me (who knew there was so much new medical vocabulary to encounter?) but my bilingual husband was with me all the way through pregnancy and if something wasn’t clear he made it right.

When we had visitors after baby arrived I was so tired I gave myself a “free pass” to not worry about whether I understood or was being understood. Since then I’ve been speaking to baby in English, not going out to work, and generally living in an English bubble. I’ve been content and haven’t worried about my Spanish skills.

But then I call to order empanadas and the dark clouds roll in again. The owner recognises me and says something I utterly fail to understand, even when she repeats it several times. I hang up feeling miserable and frustrated.

The dark clouds make me feel like I will never properly understand and be understood in Spanish. The dark clouds cast shadows over any positive progress I’ve made. What’s more, the clouds’ grey lining is the feeling of guilt and shame that I haven’t done enough to practice and learn. My mood becomes so dark I don’t actually want to learn anymore.

Thankfully this mood doesn’t usually last too long. Soon the skies lighten and I brighten up, and try to focus on the positive once again. I remind myself that just because I don’t understand everything it doesn’t mean I am failing, or that I can’t continue to learn. And I tell myself that at least I managed to order the empanadas, which after all is one of the most important uses of the Spanish language.

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