Readers, I couldn’t think of another headline that would capture the gawd-awful truth of this host mom’s story. Let’s call her “UnluckyHostMom”.
I know that you typically post questions, and that you occasionally run guest posts written by readers. I recently had such a terrible au pair experience, that I thought it would be therapeutic to write about it. One of the wonderful things about the AuPairMom blog is that you realize you’re not alone. I identify so much with the challenges shared by other host parents!
Since in hindsight many tragedies become comedies, I also thought that this story might be something other host moms and dads could laugh along with. Or maybe I’m just hoping that I’m not alone in having such a bad experience, b/c … well … misery loves company.
I hope this story inspires readers to share more stories and guest posts. All the best, ~ UnluckyHostMom
My Au Pair Turned Into A Brazilian Bridezilla
A friend who once described me as “the person who has the worst luck of all”. In many respects she is right. Things have a way of falling apart. Just consider our experiences with au pairs.
We’ve had, in no particular order, the drunk au pair … the flighty au pair … the mean au pair … the severely depressed au pair … and the au pair who was overwhelmed when put in charge of the kids, even though she supposedly had thousands of hours of experience caring for children.
We even had an au pair who emailed us exactly one week before she was due to arrive in the U.S. that she couldn’t come because she was pregnant.
But none of them hold a candle to the Brazilian Bridezilla.
Here’s the story. The “BID” (bridezilla in disguise) came to us in rematch in May of 2013, and we thought we had finally broke a particularly unlucky stretch. She was all anyone would want in an au pair. She was patient. She worked hard. She let my younger daughter do her hair. She taught my older daughter to play guitar.
So last fall we asked if she would extend. We thought our chances were good. She had found a boyfriend, a guy she had met on the train. So romantic! And he even came from a rich family, which made it seem even more like a made-for-TV movie. BID agreed to extend for six months, until mid September. We paid the fees. By January it was official. And by February she was engaged. She asked my younger daughter to be her flower girl.
Never one to procrastinate, we started looking for our next au pair in late March. After a few weeks, we found a great match, and we decided to have her arrive in late August, right before the start of school and three weeks before BID’s wedding. BID had already asked to take her final week off as vacation. I told her to take the last three—and I’d pay her for two. Thanks for a job well done. I was so stupid.
In retrospect, the signs were there. My kids think the turning point came when BID’s future mother-in-law bought her a wedding dress. BID started slacking off at work. She was texting A LOT, dozens of texts a day, hundreds a week, almost all to the rich fiancé and almost all during her working hours. (Of course we didn’t realize the extent until later).
Less than a week after we set the date for the new au pair’s arrival, things really started to fall apart. BID was suddenly stressed. So stressed that she said she couldn’t work. So stressed that she insisted she wasn’t going to make it unless she could sleep with her fiancé every night for the two months leading up to the wedding. She said surely I must understand? Of course I didn’t! I’m a working mom for crying out loud! Wedding-planning stress is nothing!
I said to my H, “This is not going to last.” Ever the optimist he said, “She’d never leave us in the lurch.”
We moved the arrival date up for the incoming au pair to late July—it was the earliest she could arrive, and we agreed to release BID, who had now morphed into BB—Brazilian Bridezilla—almost two months early.
There were signs I obsessed about but my husband chose to ignore. BB mentioned she happened to go on Care.com because she was wanted to continue to work as a nanny after her wedding. BB also said her rich fiance’s mom had a friend who wanted to pay her “a lot of money” to watch her young twins for a year, but she didn’t want to commit that long.
I was on red alert, but what could we do? We had spent nearly $4,000 for her to extend for six months. The earlier she left the more money we lost, and the more we’d have to pay for interim childcare. Rich fiance’s family had already hired an attorney for her, so I knew that she knew that if she left early and her visa expired before her wedding, no one would care. I had no leverage.
Then the flower girl daughter—seven at the time—came to me in tears.
BB wasn’t playing with her. BB was texting all the time. BB was impatient. BB yelled at her when she was doing her homework. This was not working.
So we tried to talk to BB. I told her what her beloved flower girl told us. But there was no apology. Instead BB got all passive aggressive. “You’re making every little thing turn into a big thing!!!” she cried, even though it clearly wasn’t. She agreed to stay until the end of June, when school ended. She wouldn’t leave until we had found other childcare.
Of course, she didn’t stay until June. And she didn’t stay until we had backup care. Deep down, I think we all knew that. What we didn’t know is how she’d do it, which was in the worst possible way.
My family left the Friday before Memorial Day to go to my uncle’s funeral. It seemed like he was only diagnosed yesterday. I was so worried about my dad. While we were gone, BB cleaned out her room and moved out—nearly four months before the wedding, and nearly four months before her commitment was up. Then she sent me this email:
Dear [host mom],
For the past year you have been like a mother to me. I am entirely grateful for your kindness and generosity, accepting me to into your home and trusting me with your girls. At this time I believe it is in my best interest to move on. I want to be with my fiance and begin our lives together.
It has been very stressful for me and I would like to end on a good note. Next Friday will be my last day. I will get a new cell phone tomorrow, and [rich fiancé] and I are buying a new car next weekend. It has been a very educating and memorable experience for me, and I will remember each of you fondly. I’m sorry for leaving early but I think it is better for everybody.
I hope, should the time come you will be honest and forthcoming speaking on my behalf, sharing the good things I have done for you and the girls; as I have done for you with DearHostChild. I hope you will not be upset but at this time I must do what is right for me. The girls can always see me if they want to and you allow it.
Best Regards, BB
That’s right—she ditches us while we’re at a funeral … and she thinks this is ending on a good note!!! AND she expects us to give her a good reference!
And really, if this is how she treats her second mother, how do you think she treated her first?
Things were still complicated. BB still had our phone and house keys. I texted her and told her to just return our stuff and be done with it. She put us off for three excruciating hours—probably to get her own cell phone. When she finally returned them, she put the phone and keys in a little bag and tied it with a purple bow. A purple bow. Like a present. Then her rich-guy fiancé tried to creep up to the house and put it in the mailbox, sight unseen. Seriously????
Yes, I ran after her fiance and called him a coward.
And yes, I called her an immature little brat.
And yes, I’ve been fighting the urge to go onto her profile on Care.com and write all of this.
(My husband joked we do a scroll of numbers, such as “119—the number of days she had left on the contract she broke. 1,265—the number of texts she sent and received in the three weeks before she ditched us. 1,156—the number of those texts made during her working hours.) But after all the weeks of drama, I was ready to move on.
Even the kids were ready.
As my younger daughter said, “I guess she’s going to have to find another flower girl for her wedding.”
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