When I first started my blog 15 months ago, I envisioned writing extensively about our au pair. The title was going to be something along the lines of, “ family, friends, and a flippin au pair.” In the end, I nixed that idea and also wrote fewer posts about Char than I expected. Mainly, because life with an au pair did not feel that unique as time went on.
In my mind, there is a large spectrum on how one treats their au pair. On one-end, you can treat an au pair purely as a business transaction. You pay the au pair to perform a service (watch your kids, clean up, etc.) and then essentially do your own thing with minimal au pair interaction. Based on stories from other au pairs and my interpretations of other families; many families are like this. They simply want the au pair to do their job and that’s it.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the people that fully adopt the au pair into their family. They interact with each other every night, go on vacation together, and spend time together on weekends. Essentially just treating the au pair as an extension of the family.
In our case, we treated Char much closer to the latter spectrum. Which in general, just made it feel like she was one of us (except for the occasional times I heard her speaking in German to her family and friends).
I have very mixed emotions as Char departs from our family. On one-hand, Cari & I are getting some freedoms and privacy back. We will be a normal family of 5 again (I always throw Fido into the family count). On the other hand, there are many Charry things that we will miss.
The one absolute that has stood out about Char from the get go is her love for our kids. From about the end of the first week forward, we have always felt that our girls are in good hands when they are with her. They definitely respond well to her, and have bonded after spending upwards of 40+ hours a week alone with her for the past year.
One example from this past weekend– our tots were hanging out with some of my family, and started to fuss. They instantly walked to Char, who was sitting on the floor with them. The second she picked them up, they calmed right down, as if they were with one of us (mom or dad). When we are all sitting in the living room, they are often drawn to Char, even after spending all day with her. It has been very nice to have someone who can treat the girls so well, and who the girls feel safe with. Finally, when we take trips with the girls, it is always nice to have a third set of hands to help with the girls.
It is amazing to have watched the kiddos grow up with her. When she arrived, we were trying to teach the little ones to roll over, and were experimenting with no swaddle when they slept. She was instrumental in helping the girls sit up, feeding themselves, crawling, and now walking. A year later, they are walking aimlessly through our abode. And Char was with them for every step in between. She was phenomenal at working hard to keep the girls on a consistent schedule, which is such a blessing. It definitely wasn’t easy at first, when they were not great sleepers. She has really helped to sleep train them, and make them the great sleepers they are today. All of this we wouldn’t get with just anyone and without the personalized attention they received from Char.
I know that the final goodbye will be tough for us all. She will be missed. To an extent, it feels that we are losing a member of our family. But such a departure is a necessary step, and we knew when we started this journey that we would have to say goodbye at some point. Char has a family and many friends in Germany that have been without her for a year. She has a new job awaiting her and a life to lead. We have growing girls that will enjoy new experiences out of the home and new skills to learn from our next au pair.
As the saying goes, with every ending comes a new beginning. But that does not make every ending easy. I know that this transition will be particularly tough on us. If only, because Char has become a great addition to our family.