When she first arrived I was nervous. I wasn’t quite sure what life with an Au Pair would be like. Hiring an 18-year-old to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to live with you and take care of your children for a year isn’t exactly something one does on a whim. Add to that the fact that you’ve never actually met this person and your relationship consists of only a few Skype video calls and email and you have a perfect recipe for fear and trepidation.
But we were committed. My husband and I told ourselves we were up for the challenge and at the very worst, “It’s only a year. We can do anything for a year.”
We are now at the end of that year. We’ve journeyed 12 months together and it has gone by in an instant. What began with some awkward first conversation is now a relationship that feels like family.
“What is it like to have an Au Pair?”
This is a question I answer all the time. I usually say just a few words about how great it is and how well she is adjusting to our family and how well our family is adjusting to her. But those few words don’t even begin to describe the relationship that formed.
In these 12 short months, she has truly become a member of our family. We have shared countless meals, celebrated holidays, laughed and cried together. We are one unit. When my kids draw pictures of our family, they draw her as well. When asked how many people are in their family, they respond six as if it is completely normal to count your babysitter in that number.
She is more than just a babysitter. She is the person who was there when they fell down and scrapped their knees while my husband and I were at work. She was the face that greeted them after school and she was the person who heard first how their day was. She was the one helping them with their homework. She was their lunchtime chef and she knows far better than I do which foods my kids are currently in love with and which ones they will no longer touch.
She was there every night after dinner to help me with the dishes, even though she could have easily gone up to her room after a long day with the kids. While doing the dishes together we talked about our respective days, funny things the kids did, and upcoming weekend plans. After the kids went to bed, we would sometimes watch movies together or TV shows that we both liked.
I’ll admit, the initial thought of an Au Pair brought some anxiety. What if my kids resent me for going back to work full-time? What if they begin to like her better than me? It seems silly now. I’ve learned over this year that kids do not have a limited amount of love to give. Having an extra adult in our house has not decreased the amount of love each adult receives; instead it has given my children an opportunity to love more. They have three adults that love them deeply and they have the opportunity to love three adults deeply in return.
In a few weeks, she will return to Germany. The daily routine of saying good morning as she comes downstairs to help with breakfast will soon be only a memory. While we will welcome a new Au Pair in a few weeks, I know that our current Au Pair will not be replaced. What I have learned this year is that when you welcome people into your heart, your heart becomes a little bigger.
Love is not some limited resource that will run out if we love too much. Instead, love is a freely flowing fountain that becomes bigger and bigger the more we love others. I think God created us to love others because God knows the blessings that follow.