Dear Au Pair Mom Readers —
I don’t know why I thought I was ready for this!! Friends of my parents have had wonderful experiences with their au pairs and I thought hosting an au pair would allow for my daughter to be at home another year while I returned to school.
Some things I didn’t expect:
First, she said that she could drive, and then upon arrival declared that she could not. “Where is the bus stop to take the baby to music class?” We live in a state that has terrible public transportation, and I really didn’t expect to be putting my baby on the bus anyway. Needless to say, there have been no classes or outings for my daughter. [[ cv notes: This is a deal-breaker for many of us. If you need a driver and your au pair can’t drive (especially if she said she could) — rematch. ]]
The AP complains about having to take my daughter outside to play, so that I have had to REQUIRE a specific time limit on outside time. She has criticized my housekeeping, my cooking, and the fact that I don’t use the ‘cry it out’ sleep training method with my daughter.
The expense is greater than I imagined. It is hard enough to afford her stipend, food, education and shelter costs. At the end of it all, she complains that I don’t take her out to dinner or other ‘family’ type events more often (going to the zoo, going on vacations).
I work and study full time, I live far away from family, and I don’t have a partner to pitch in with the extra childcare/household responsibilities. She doesn’t say thank you when I make dinner, buy her favorite foods, keep the house running, even when I do splurge and take us all out to eat. No thanks.
It is not for lack of trying.
We have spent hours talking about her boyfriend, her family (her father passed away last year), her past, her future, her weight (she has gained almost 20 pounds since moving here), and all of the hard things in her life – and she weeps at my kitchen table often.
I try to help, but these talks only leave me feeling like I have a very hurt, very sad, very depressed young lady living in my home – and I don’t know what to do.
She says that she looks to my daughter for affection and comfort. I think that this puts too much pressure on a 18 month old.
I recently gave her a 4 week paid vacation to visit her family. I thought she would return happier and supported. Instead she cries every day and my daughter has become her little caretaker – giving her kisses, hugging her legs, screaming if she leaves the room, and displaying a much more serious demeanor.
I have spoken to our LCC many times, and she urges me to buy her little gifts, take her out to ice cream, do things to make her feel special. I feel like there may be some real depression here – and I don’t think that ice cream is going to solve it.
Can someone with more experience please help me to either shift my attitude or figure out a way to shift hers?
Image by Lulu Lovering on Flickr