It’s hard to imagine that the long, thoughtful email, below — all 1600 words of it — need only two words in reply:
I could probably add three more words:
Don’t Feel Guilty.
But I will leave it up to you, dear readers, to share other words of support with this mom. ….
I could really use a little advice and reassurance about our situation. I’m trying to give details without being too specific, because we have not yet told our AP that we are planning to rematch, and should she read this, I’m afraid she’ll know it’s her. But I needed to reach out to some experienced HM’s for some help…
We are a first time HF and are just about to enter rematch next week (when my backup daycare becomes available). This has been an agonizing decision for us and I guess I could use a little reassurance.
We are parents of one 14 month old EASY baby boy. Our AP has been with us for just under 3 months, and it has been difficult from day one. She is the oldest AP in our cluster (about to age out of the program) and is from eastern Europe. She was great when we Skype interviewed her, which we did at least 5 times for no less than an hour each time. I felt very confident in the questions I asked during the interview process. I did my homework, and I was very specific. I also gave her frank, upfront information about us. I made no bones about the fact that we need someone who is flexible about schedule, for example (see below). I also acknowledged that when it comes to our home, we like for everything to be in it’s place (HD is pretty strict about this). I even emailed her my handbook before we matched, which was over 30 pages of information about us, our life, our area, and a few pages of rules(mostly about driving) and expectations. We agreed that it was our “contract.” She agreed to everything seemingly wholeheartedly, and we were so excited. We feel her English is pretty good, but we suspect that she often is not telling us if she doesn’t understand something…
Since she got here, we feel we have done everything we can to extend her hospitality and courtesy. We don’t have a lot of money, we live in a very small house (which seemed offputting to her from the first day). But as a sign of good faith we bought a laptop when she arrived just for her to use while she’s here (BIG MISTAKE), a phone, and I even took her for a manicure/pedicure and left a welcome basket in her room. We invite her to family outings and dinners (which she has only accepted twice) and ask her to join us for things whenever possible. She only joins us going places when she is going to get something out of it.
Because HD and I work full time in demanding jobs where there are a lot of “emergencies,” our situation is such that on a regular basis, she is able to have a lot of days off and off time. But every now and then we need her to jump in last minute (which happens maybe once per month) because of a quick schedule change. We were clear about that from the beginning and she agreed to it.
What it comes down to, is that there is no one BIG thing that is an automatic deal breaker. There have been so many little things, but they add up to several feelings for us. Without bogging down an already long email with details of the specific incidents that have made us feel this way, I’ll just relay how we feel. Firstly, she doesn’t seem to like us HP’s. She seems to love our son the way one loves a puppy- he’s cute and cuddly and fun to play with, but we feel the understanding and concern for his safety and well being is lacking. We feel that she is somewhat ungrateful and is simply using us as her meal ticket or her way to get into the country, and that she thinks we’re here to serve her. We feel there’s an issue with priorities. We of course want her to have friends and a social life, but she spends every waking moment of freetime on the internet chatting with her friends, talking and texting on the phone that we’re paying for, and seems sort of overly consumed with her social life. She barricades herself in her room with food, water and “her” laptop and doesn’t come out for an entire day or two at a time. She barely speaks to us, despite our attempts to engage her in conversation. Thus we feel like we are a total imposition on her. We don’t feel we can ask her to jump in and help last minute. And we feel that she has no concept of professionalism and personal responsibility.
We feel she misrepresented her driving skills (she is a TERROR on the road-she absolutely cannot drive), her cooking skills (she thinks that a half a potato constitutes lunch for our son), her willingness to be flexible, and her willingness to pitch in and help do things she sees need to be done beyond doing the dishes occasionally. She also seems to have a sort of “I’ll do it my way, because I think a half a potato is fine, even if you tell me it’s not” attitude. No matter what we say, she does things her own way, unless we absolutely put our foot down, which we would have to do constantly to get her to do things the way we desire they be done. We don’t feel that she takes responsibility when she makes mistakes and we don’t feel we can trust her. We feel that because we are only a few years older from her, she doesn’t have much respect for us. We feel she’s passive aggressive, which we think is partly why there hasn’t been one HUGE incident to make us feel all these things. Instead, it’s the adding up of a lot of little things, gut feelings and intuitions on our part.
We’ve tried to talk it out several times. Our LCC is fantastic and has already come over to the house and met with all of us to try to help us work it out. I’m pretty sure she’s also spoken to the AP privately. We’ve split the cost of a driving class with the AP ($250 to us), though her driving did not improve. She doesn’t seem to understand the dangers of driving in our area, and when I try to explain it to her, she doesn’t seem to care. She laughs off the near misses she has during practice, and all that seems to matter to her is when she’s going to have access to “her car” so she can go out with her friends without having to find a ride home.
We finally looked at our goals when we entered the program: We wanted to have a caretaker for our son with whom he could bond who would be like a niece taking care of him. We wanted that person to be able to take him places and do fun things with him which would provide him with learning and social opportunities. We wanted someone we could trust who was flexible and willing to jump in and help. We wanted someone who was self-motivated (not someone we have to constantly chase after and say something about EVERYTHING to), responsible, and accountable. We want someone who is respectful of us, of our home, of our way of life. We just feel like none of these has actually happened.
Yet because there are so many little things and not one huge dealbreaker, I’m agonizing over the decision. While our personalities totally conflict and she simply doesn’t “get it,” we don’t think she’s a bad person. Even reading this email I feel like maybe it sounds a lot worse than it is, though these are true, genuine feelings that we have. I sometimes wonder if we’re being too demanding or critical because they are little things and not one big thing. When I arrive home from work at the end of the day, our son is in a clean diaper, fed (though I may not like what she’s feeding him), seems happy (though I don’t feel she’s doing enough with him activity wise to help him learn and grow- she’s just passively entertaining him), his laundry is usually done and even the dishes are done most of the time.
Am I asking too much to find an AP who does all these same things AND fulfills the REST of what we were looking for? Am I giving up when I shouldn’t? Are there AP’s out there who fit the bill of what I am looking for, or is my understanding of the program incorrect? Is it wrong to want an AP who I don’t have to watch over and worry about like an angry, uncontrollable 16 year old girl? I think she’s going to be totally shocked when we tell her, even though we feel the tension in the house is always so thick you could cut it with a knife. I think she may be somewhat clueless, despite our attempts to tell her how we feel. I feel bad letting her go because I know it will not exactly be a high point in her life, but I think I’d feel worse keeping her. Add on top of it the total unknown of the rematch process, that I’m so afraid I’m going to end up with an AP who is even worse, and I feel like I’m a little lost.
I apologize for such a long message, but I could really use a little guidance. MMMHostMom
How do you know when it’s time to rematch?
When you can’t even convince yourself, after 1600 words, that there is anything more that you could have done. Because there isn’t.
I already emailed this mom with my own thoughts, please share yours here too….