Global Mom: Our Daughter With The French Name

From Global Mom: A Memoir

The following I wrote in my journal:

The hardest moment was in our bedroom tonight. We’d already told P by himself, which was a good move. We knew he’d be ecstatic. But C just finished doing Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man” and just last week we promised her a dog. Finally, the dog she’s waited a decade for. For D and L, we would just announce the choice when we’d make it, not discuss it, so we didn’t involve them at first.

Claire as Marian

Claire as Marian

Claire living her dream: horses

Claire living her dream: horses


Piano teacher down the street

Piano teacher down the street

Big yellow American school bus also down the street...and a 6 minute drive to school

Big yellow American school bus also down the street…and a 6 minute drive to school

Free range living

Free range living

Did I mention a cottage and lots of open space. . .for a dog?

Did I mention a cottage and lots of open space. . .for a dog?

...Or for a little brother?

…Or for a little brother?

P and C were sitting on our sofa. We told them we had big news but wanted to discuss it. This isn’t final, kids, we said. Want to get your reactions. And when we told C, she immediately glazed over then her eyes welled up. P put his arm around her, and she just started crying, crying. “I don’t want to go back to that hard life. This is easy, good, perfect. I want to be here. I want to STAY HERE!” And she fell into P’s arms, bawling. I think I gave R an evil look, and I know I lipped to him, “This means no go.”

We kept trying to reassure her. We haven’t said yes to a thing, we said. We’ve just been asked if we could and we are free to say no, we said. We’ll never do something that makes all of us miserable and that Heavenly Father does not encourage us to do. We walked around and around the back yard, C between us, our arms wrapped around her shoulders, listening as she cried out all the reasons why this was all bad, all wrong. “All bad, all wrong,” she kept crying, stopping to catch her breath, to bend over and then shake herself upright. It broke my heart. I wanted to weep, too, but held it in. I was believing her.

I felt how selfish it would be to pluck them out of such bounty and ease, and I had just hung red geraniums on the wrap around porch, gorgeous! Why would we ever head to where things were, as Claire knew, much harder. The edges, harder. The expectations, harder. The language, harder. The traffic and school and rules and sky and air and everything, she said, HARDER.

Inseparable, these two

Inseparable, these two

What happened when Claire went alone into her room is something Randall and I didn’t ask or hope for. We sat, nauseated and sweaty, conflicted and brokenhearted, hands between knees, rocking back and forth on the edge of our bed. So what? we said to each other, if the company has an “acute” and “special” need? So what if that need is, as they assert, “tailor made” to be filled with Randall’s expertise? So what if this would only be “a couple of years” and then we could come right back to the home and the huge yard and the cul de sac on the hill and corporate headquarters where Randall, having done this, overseeing his function in the company’s largest subsidiary outside the U.S., would be “very well-positioned”, as he was told, to take on the job that his whole career had been grooming him for, the top and final level.

So what? I said.

So what? he said.

So what?


And Claire knocked on our door.

She wanted to talk. She came with news that became a turning point and a landmark to which our whole family would refer for years to come. She sat with us on the bed and told us she’d run while holding back tears to her girlfriend down the road. That friend, whose parents were in the middle of a horrible divorce, reassured and comforted Claire, and listened as her new friend cried. Claire had then come back home to kneel at her bed and pray. Not for an answer — to move or not to move, that was not the question — but simple comfort in this hurting moment. It was then that she felt warmth and heat wrap around her twelve-year-old shoulders and a voice (she felt it, she didn’t hear it), told her clearly that though this would be really hard at the beginning, over the long run it would be the best thing for the family.

Yes, she should, we should, move to Paris.


17 thoughts on “Global Mom: Our Daughter With The French Name

    • Mel, thank you for the compliment on the blogover. It feels brighter and more readable to me. White and fewer widgets will do that, I guess.

      And gulp. Yes. I kept gulping for a while. Sometimes I still gulp, especially when I connect with people who have lived in one place for a long time, have stability, continuity, lotsa “bestest” friends right in their zip code…right in their city…right in their street…Holiday cards from that world are sometimes a challenge for me. But we have chosen, and chosen, and chosen this how many times? (What did the book cover say?) And I know we’re not done with the road. . .So this is not me complaining. Just explaining:) Much love always, Mel. —Mel.

  1. Oooooo… what a tough decision and such a touching story. My husband got an offer with Microsoft a few months ago. It would have been so much better financially for us. However, my teenager begged us not to make her move. We’re still here because I don’t have it in my heart to make her change now. There’ll be time for that later, after she’s in college. Your little girl showed tremendous strength of character. She’s already a Godly little woman. Praise to her!

    • Shellakers—Oh, yes. . .Yes, I understand why you chose what you did for you daughter. Later in the book we are forced to move when one especially sensitive child is in high school. That was (and still is) painful for him and for us.
      Moving in those teen years is unquestionably a different upheaval than when the children are younger, and their identity is not yet barnacled to a peer group. The likelihood of negative fall out (academic, emotional, social, physical) is statistically greater once the children enter into puberty. So I get what you’re saying! You have to make these decisions with careful weighing of pros and cons, and with each child’s situation and emotional makeup taken into account. And for me, at least, these major decisions cannot be made without inspiration. I rely on prayer. When folks (who have not moved a lot) shrug, and say, “Ack, but kids are all so resilient” I tip my brow, wince, and say, “Oh yeah? And who sold us that malarky?” Kids can hurt deeply and can carry loneliness and resentment in places that boil and blister years later. We adults need to keep that in mind.

      And my Claire…ah, you are so right. That kid’s truly something else. Strong. Tough, even. She has had to survive some bitter things, (of which moving has been the least of injuries.) My heart just cracks into pieces when I think of the loss she has known. I praise her, too!!

      Thanks for being here, S. —-M.

      • Yeah, I often wonder about the people who tell me “kids are resilient” too. I wonder what kids they’re talking about? lol I’ve had to change schools 6 times and I wasn’t resilient. I never wanted my kids to go through that so we’ve lived in the same house for 24 years now. lol Maybe overkill a little. You’re right though, sometimes you can’t help the situation and you have to move. I’m sorry your family has experienced sadness. Prayer is ALWAYS the only good idea if you have to make a major life style change. Sometimes it’s so hard to trust God’s direction though. It shouldn’t be but any kind of change is scary.

        Again, hat’s off to Miss Claire! Let her know she has admirers 🙂 God bless you all!

    • Nate–Mein Lieber…:) Whoah, boy, I am so glad to hear that. We have, oh, about 10 chapters to go. So I hope you can function alright with that hook jabbed in your mouth. So glad to have you here—Immer mit echter Liebe, Herr von Winder.—M.

  2. Whew. This makes me ache in such a familiar way. Time after time after time after time hearing that we would be moving. That we would once again be uprooting our lives and moving someplace where I had no friends, where there weren’t as many trees, where there were too many trees, where I didn’t speak the language, where I did speak the language, on and on and on.

    I vividly remember crying, on my knees, in front of my dresser whose drawer had my sticker collection displayed all over it, in anguish over the thought that we would leave New York for Utah. That one was particularly hard because my well-meaning parents, who hadn’t yet told my dad’s company that he was accepting a position elsewhere, had told my older siblings about the move so they could tell their friends on the last day of school that they were moving. They didn’t factor in the piece where those kids would go home and tell their younger siblings – my friends – that the Bishops were moving. I got asked three times in one day if I was moving and that they’d heard from my own siblings that I was. That was rough.

    And then when we moved to Paris. Oh man. That was a big one too. I can totally empathize with Claire on that one though. I didn’t know how hard international living would be, but I could guess, and I remember, again, being on my knees, in tears, just pouring out my heart and soul in an out-loud whisper. Was this right for us? Could I do it? Could I just feel okay about it? And then I did. That same, warm, loving heavenly hug that told me everything would be okay. Paris would be good for us.

    I’m so glad you guys were there with us too. Your family made it a whole lot better.

  3. Même si c’est difficile de revivre la peine de nos enfants, c’est réconfortant de savoir qu’ils n’ont pas été les seuls à devoir vivre ce genre de situation. Je suis impressionnée par la réaction de Claire, tout comme je l’ai été et continue à l’être de celle de mes propres enfants. Quelle force ils ont !! Mais nous savons d’où ils tirent cette force et je suis émerveillée par l’intensité de leur foi et de la confiance qu’ils placent en notre Sauveur. Aujourd’hui je n’ai aucun doute sur la puissance du témoignage de sorella Bradford, elle a eu de bons exemples et de bons guides pendant toute son enfance 🙂 Bisous à toi Melissa et continue à nous enchanter avec tes récits et tes pensées si profondes !

    • Ma belle Valérie-
      Et tu sais que j’ai beaucoup pensé a toi pendant que j’ai écris cela. Je sais bien, que pour toi et pour ta famille, le grand changement que vous avez vécu même récemment, de votre pays natal aux US, ne pouvait pas être facile. Félicitations à nos jeunes, qui mettent leur foi en Dieu, sachant qu’ils y peuvent mettre leur confiance totale. Il ne nous a jamais abandonné. Bien au contraire. Je te remercie, Valérie, de ton exemple si fort, si beau. Avec tout mon amour fraternelle—M.

  4. Caitlin.


    Uh, I will run interference for your parents by just saying that the older siblings and their friends, (innocently) kind of messed up that game plan. That’s why these moves are often cloaked in all sort of clandestine maneuvers and shrouded in code language, and sometimes for a long time. Mostly to shield the children. (And sometimes, in order to keep a job and not have it prematurely ripped out from under one’s feet.) Youch again. I’m sorry for those hard times in your young life.

    And it was a very good thing that our families’ Paris years overlapped when they did. We learned so much, didn’t we? Yes, you are right, intranational and international moves are simply in different categories. Throw in that little foreign language detail, and tra-la-la, it’s in yet another category altogether. Having done all those kinds of moves, I can tell you they all present certain challenges, but the sanity gets shredded in the third category 🙂 What do you think, Caitlin?

    What do the other readers think? What geographic moves have been most challenging for you? And why?

  5. For a 12-year old child to go on her kneels in order to pray for comfort at such personal conflict moment and to ask for nothing else but for “comfort” absolutely demonstrates how not to ask amiss from Heavenly Father.Claire got immediate response!..(cf JOSEPH SMITH @ 14). Beyond that spiritual maturity just like beauty etc are gifts /virtues from God Aimighty..
    clarke itama.

    • Clarke, thank you for your sweet comment. Back then I was impressed with Claire’s simple trust in personal answers. But I have since grown even more impressed by her sensitivity to things unseen, and her willingness to stick with those promptings. Had no idea when we named her that she’d see things clearly. Or that she one day would need so dearly to have that gift. Warmth and love to you. Your faith goes deep, sir.—M.

  6. Dear Melissa,

    My wife, children and I relocated across this vast country of ours to be closer to my family and to share in the enrichment of a Canadian soil so vastly differing and stunningly beautiful that we felt our lives would surely change for the better and, ultimately, it most certainly did. Still, as you have expressed here Melissa it was as though we had moved clear to the other side of the earth, across prairie plains, rivers, lakes and streams and mountains towering to the heavens and beyond. And on the other side of those mountains lay a vast coastal community of several million people with shores touching the infinite expanse of the Pacific seas.

    The challenge of the uprooting was only the beginning. Indeed, the people seemed to bear a presence and language all of their own, their accustomed lifestyle and even belief structures and moralities differing than we were familiar and comfortable with. It took fully ten years before we were considered ‘locals’ and the many gaps that abridged our existence amoung the land of plenty, though subtle in many respects, gradually dissipated into a fulfilling life that we now could not turn away from for love nor money nor life itself.

    Church and community brought a resounding familiarity and sense of belonging to my wife in particular. The children were quite young and seemingly adaptable to this tremendous embarkation, as though immigrants to a new and strange land. There were ultimately hardships that ended our marriage and the boys struggled to deal with the breakdown of a seeming lifelong togetherness that suddenly was shattered in one fell swoop…an announcement by torn and devastated parents that at that point felt nowhere to turn, no sense of resolve, only a deeply heartbreaking sense of failure, a sense of divisive parting between their mother and father that hopefully they never felt they contributed to despite our assurances.

    A part of our relationship had suddenly been infused with darkness, as though a great and tragic loss had ripped apart what once seemed the perfect family unit. The four of us sat together and cried, struggling for composure though realizing life would never be the same really. We assured the boys that our love for them had never changed and we would all be ok. My weekends were spent with the boys attempting to live a life of normalcy. It was a very difficult time financially and the scars of our failed marriage had to have left open wounds that would likely never fully heal. Resilient as we were their mother and I both remarried and relationships were fostered, nurtured, sustained.

    We each deal with the tragedy of loss in our own individual ways. Not only failed relationships but ultimately we experience the loss of loved ones out of varied circumstance. We grieve in our own ways, reaching out, withdrawing, retracting in broken promises of perpetual happiness and prosperity. The realities of our mortality are often frighteningly clean and unwelcome. Certain aspects of it all hang heavy in our hearts the rest of our lives and yes, we question deeply whether the sharing of those life experiences so openly through our writing is worthy and touches lives as intended.

    Our journey somehow happens for a reason and at the seeming most difficult moments through it all it is the children who bring it all together. As that knock on the door brought with it your angel and saviour in a moment of seeming crisis new directions seemed to take on a life of their own and another page is turned for better tomorrows. The strength of your love and their faith in your embrace and a higher being lifted their spirits in a time of desperate uncertainty. That human instinct for survival and resilience moved you forward in a new chapter together, new beginnings, new challenges and the comfort of a warmth and reassurance that felt familiar, like it was all meant to be.

    • Don, Oh, so many, many kinds of loss. So many, many attempts at regaining footing. It is heartbreaking reading about your divorce, the children’s response, the gash through the universe that must certainly feel like.

      I appreciate this passage especially. (you knew I would appreciate it…):

      The realities of our mortality are often frighteningly clean and unwelcome. Certain aspects of it all hang heavy in our hearts the rest of our lives and yes, we question deeply whether the sharing of those life experiences so openly through our writing is worthy and touches lives as intended.

      No doubt I’m still stymied by questions of to share or not to share. My experience, especially here on the blog, has been that sharing these stories of great loss might not touch others just as I’d intended; they do touch, however, and sometimes in ways far deeper and lasting than I’d even intended. This is not due to my particular talent, but to the nature of loss as the great unifying truth of all humankind. We will all lose. All of us. And when we do, especially in tragic circumstances, we’re clawing and grappling for a branch, a twig that we can grip to halt the free fall. Often, another’s survival, offered in word, is that twig.

      My words — our words — then, are twigs.

      Much love, and thanks, Don—M.

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