Take my life for example! I had this amazing au pair from Austria come to us this July! She was literally, Mary Poppins. No, I’m serious! You should check out my instagram page for her singing “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in German! She was the unicorn au pair that you have always dreamed of. Of course no one is perfect, at least I am not, but in regards to her childcare, I’m not sure another au pair could have beat her… by miles!
However, after a work trip this January, my amazing Austrian told me that she needed to make a change in her life and she booked a ticket to move to London to take on a new job. Now, I know, you are probably thinking that I should have jumped up and down, told her that we had an agreement, told her that we have done so much for her, told her that she is breaking our psychological contract, told her that we loved her, told her I would pay her a million dollars to stay… told her, told her, told her…
But I didn’t. I didn’t say anything. I was in shock probably, and I couldn’t imagine that I would be in this situation. I am the one that helps everyone else. I am the one with the perfect au pairs. I am the role model… how could I have done something to drive my au pair away? I was blind-sided, incredibly hurt, angry, and just the tiniest bit happy that she had gone after her dream. In truth, I said nothing about how I was truly feeling… I said I was happy for her and that I understood. Secretly, I was just glad that she wasn’t going to another family, but just leaving the country all together. I’m not sure I could bare talking about her to other host families who were interested in her!
My soul was crushed and the idea of interviewing another au pair seemed like a task I was not up for. But in the moment, I just said, “That’s great! Making a decision is the hardest part!” And smiled. And sure enough, she was still just as amazing if not more amazing after we decided to part ways. Perhaps it made me appreciate her even more because I knew she was leaving? Honestly, she was the one I had “bonded with” the least. She was always so independent and a free spirit. You couldn’t pin her down even if you wanted to. That’s what made her so great with my kids!! But it also made it hard for me as a Host Mom to find common ground. She was my clone in regards to childcare, but my complete opposite as a person. It was the best of both worlds.
The first week, I jumped into the matching pool and thought, surely I will find a great au pair. I mean, I do this for a living!!! I can find my own, right? So I started interviewing and I quickly realized, that I couldn’t go out there and “date” anyone. I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, my colleagues understood and let me take a few days to breathe an settle in to the new normal, my clients checked in on me, and everyone was trying to help me connect with the best candidates… but the truth is, I just wasn’t drawn to anyone. No one compared to Sunny. She was the one I wasn’t supposed to say goodbye to at least not yet!
I had the perfect girl! We showered her with love and gifts. We tried to incorporate her in our family. How could she ditch us? I had au pair PTSD. I couldn’t pull the trigger. I couldn’t find a match I liked, and since I didn’t have a deadline, I sort of coasted. I interviewed a few overseas and a few that were in country. I took a break and focused on my kiddos. I proved to myself that I could do it all, I could work, take care of my kiddos full time, keep the house clean, do all of the laundry, be the taxi service, etc. and I learned something… we ate dinner more as a family. We had to, I was there ALL THE TIME, I was the only one! I was able to re-program my kiddos, since for a while now with the holidays and our 15 guests staying over for a month, they had turned a little too ripe! Haha. I needed to bring the hammer down, re-organize my life, and slowly get things back to normal by taking care of myself before I was ready to take on another girl who could… in all likelihood break my heart all over again. Regardless of whether I ended up with another au pair who has amazing dreams and leaves me early… there will come a time where I will have to say goodbye to her, too. I wasn’t sure I was ready.
All of this to say, after 30 days of doing it all, I realized that it’s not only the “childcare” that drove me to host, it’s the companionship, the chatter, the learning of different cultures, the languages, the look on my kids’ faces when they hear a story from another country, the level of engagement that I would NEVER be able to provide because I am also thinking about bills, and clients, and where all the socks have gone?! This is why I host! This is why every family should host an au pair. To see their kids blossom, to provide different role models, to bring the world to them in a way that I wasn’t able to experience without traveling, to bring a new world of foods to their tiny palettes, to provide them with this amazing life of having family all over the world. This is why I was careful when I first picked out my au pair and even more careful the second time around.
Breaking up is hard to do. I was one of the lucky ones that got beautiful insight to what my life has been like with all of my amazing au pairs, but also, what it is like without them. I didn’t want to hire an interim nanny, or ask the neighborhood girls to babysit, it was never solely about childcare, it was always about the experience. Isn’t that what childcare should really be about? What does your childcare bring to the table other than just childcare?
Fortunately for me, I just selected a wonderful au pair from the United Kingdom who will arrive tomorrow! Can you believe it? I pulled the trigger. It’s how I new I was ready to take the plunge and love another girl just the same. I will have to report back on that soon, as we train and move through life together. I love that in sadness there is always something new to discover. We still love our Sunny, but we are so looking forward to having one more person in our lives to love! Wish me luck, lovelies! Au pair number 5 is in for a new adventure as well!
Thanks for reading! xo, pooja
Sunday, 25 February 2018 7:59 PM