I didn’t realized what a private creature I could be until we had our first au pair.
With roommates it felt like nothing was off limits, and with my DH the main thing I kept closed was the bathroom door.
But with au pairs? More of a challenge finding the right space between being closed and open.
Over-Share vs. Under-Share
There are under-sharers who say very little about what they’re actually thinking, and over-sharers for whom the acronym T.M.I. has no meaning.
With our first au pair, everything about being a parent and host parent was so new that I fumbled a lot, being open and closed in ways that (as I think back on it) probably made connecting with my au pair more difficult. It was almost a help that our first Au Pair only understood half of what I said to her for the first three months, until her command of English caught up.
Later, I found myself managing what I shared and didn’t share more thoughtfully.
For example, I shared a lot (verbally) when it came to:
- My theories of parenting
- My advice about driving safely
- My general philosophies about life
- What I wished for for my daughters
- How I felt about my neighbors and local politics
- My opinions about art and music
- What was happening at work
- My political views
What I kept to myself were:
- My complaints about my spouse
- My experiences of loneliness or depression
- My concerns that I didn’t’ know what the heck I was doing as a parent
- Frustration with my size, weight or wardrobe
What I didn’t talk about, but was probably plain to see, were:
- The toll of having a spouse who travelled a lot for work
- Concerns about holding everything together
- Irritations due to friction with my au pair
Of course it’s all relative. What’s too much for you may be just enough for your Au Pair.
When it’s all said and done, I think I probably under-shared. I wish I could ask my au pairs whether they felt they knew enough ‘about’ me to feel comfortable. That would be an interesting conversation.
I wonder if it actually makes a positive difference if the host parent over-shares, maybe to make sure that s/he fills in what would otherwise be gaps that an Au Pair could misinterpret?
And you? What have you found easy to share or harder to share?
Given a choice, would you rather offer T.M.I., or be mysterious?