Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember When...

I've been having little...Europe twinges the last little while.

Kind of like homesickness, except..for Europe. I's worse than cutting out smoking. Not that I would really know, since I'm not a smoker and never have been. But it's completely COLD TURKEY. Europe Done. No chance of a little cobblestone in your life anytime soon little's OVAH.

Sure, I'll go back and visit places that I loved (Berlin - I. want. to. have. your. babies.) and places that have a special place in my heart (Oh Paris - How I loved you and the memories you gave me - 'thank god it's not rats' --2.5 seconds later --> 'OH GOD IT IS RATS') and the places I've yet to make it to (Yeah I'm talkin' to you: Stockholm, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Moscow, Edinburgh, Crete, Istanbul, Sicily, Le Havre, Luxembourg & SO MANY OTHER PLACES - me and you gots us a DATE in the future and it's gonna be AWESOME.) Don't get me wrong..I went A LOT of places. I did a lot of fabulous things..and saw even more wonderful, breathtaking things than most people get to see in their lifetimes. I had an awesome year, and it's even more awesome in hindsight because I think about the travelling I did and the adventures I had (Last time I counted...I'd visted almost twenty countries in a YEAR - FOR FUN - WHO DOES THAT?!) and those memories will stay with me forever and let me tell you..they were awesome.

But still...I would sit here and creep all of the girls I knew who were still in Switzerland. And I would creep the girl who replaced me to see how much fun she is having. I would sit here and think about how much fun I had travelling..and would think about how much I missed being there.

And then, today, I talked to my replacement. I've chatted with her a couple times...and we've sent a couple emails back and forth. All of these seemed very happy, positive and very little reference to any sort of problems or difficulties that she may have been having. Now, a part of me hoped that this was because there WEREN'T any problems. But another (very selfish and very insecure) part of me worried that she was doing a way better job and had figured out how to manage that family better than I could. That I had been over-exagerating. That the things that were conflicts and problems and issues when I lived in that house..were actually with ME instead of with the job and with THEM. That my entire year there had just been a big ole giant social experiment which proved that I suck.

So I sat on my chair here, and worried and wondered about all of the possibilities. It comes as no surprise to me (and, let's face it..probably anyone reading this) that I sat here and overanalyzed and overthought and of course...I wondered the things that my self-conscious, deep down nervous self thinks. Is she having more fun than I did? Do the kids love her more than they love me? Is she better at ironing than I am? Does she yell less? Have more better days? Does she question every.single.little.move. that she makes because as much as she's NOT those children's mother...she knows that one little move can screw them up even more than they already are? And...the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION...Could she manage to find IKEA? Because I SWEAR...I tried and tried. And I never found it. That, and it was the end of the year and I was tired of being her slave and I didn't actually...erm...really try. Whoops. That one I don't really worry about..but the rest..I do.

Sitting here with my lovely rose coloured glasses on...I dreamed about all of the happy times. The kisses and the I love you's...the list that my lovely middle child made of 'why Erin would be a good mother'. The car dances and sharing icecream bites. And the travels. Oh how I remember the travels with such a fondness in my heart that it makes my rose coloured glasses so thick that I forget about all of the stuff that I hated. I tend to forget about the job PART that came ALONG with the lovely European life. With all of the things that I loved. I've been reading old blog entries..and as much as quite a lot of them are happy..there are definitely ones that are there that make me cringe. The ones about my lack of privacy, the complete and utter lack of respect. The ones about me, and the person I am...being bulldozed into the ground...and treated like garbage OVER and OVER again.

What people don't that being someones personal slave nanny makes as if you're bipolar. If you're having a good day..then life is GREAT. And if you're having a bad sucks more than you could ever imagine. This was so true, but especially in that household...good days meant scoops of icecreams for dessert that cost more than you made the entire day...and goodnight kisses and kids who won't have any homework and a boss who comes home from shopping and hands you a little package and thanks you for your hard work and tells you how much the kids and her love you. Bad days means that every. single. thing. you. do. is criticized and the kids scream and cry over everything..won't eat their dinners and there are huge messes everywhere you turn. Bad days when the dog has crapped everywhere and you're trying to pull yourself together enough to make it through the next hour, the next day, the next week and you just don't know how much longer you can put yourself through it. Especially when you've worked out your hourly rate to be a whopping 4 bucks an hour once you figure in the 'overtime' that oddly enough, gets overlooked when paycheques are dispensed and you've just worked four 80 hour work weeks and only got two sets of EXACTLY 48 hours off in that ENTIRE MONTH.

This job was not unlike life. It has its ups and downs like anything else out there. There is just such a lack of control that is hard to deal with in this situation...which I guess is also similar to real life. You can't REALLY take things into your own hands..because as much as you have taken on the mothering role and do all of the things that a traditional mother DOES..that mother that you are replacing is still there watching ever move you make and judging everything that you do and wanting it done THEIR way. Which, in my opinion, for this not the way. So, when you look at it from a job's hard to validate how it could be worth it. I get wanting to be a mother, and I've always been that girl that wanted kids. But man, this has opened my eyes to an entirely different world of parenting, and I know that if I ever have kids..this experience has taught me a lot of how I would (and wouldn't) raise my own children.

And when I talked with this girl, when she called to ask me what the job was like...I was having a good day. The sun was shining, birds were chirping. The girls had no homework. Their mother had decided on a whim to take them out for sushi and into town for the me some much desired respite (and a still clean house, that the maid had just COMPLETELY CLEANED from top to bottom) and I was getting ready to meet with some girlfriends to lie on a blanket on the edge of Lake Zurich while the sun set.

So you may see how my views were skewed on that particular day.

How I might have been like ''s GREAT! I LOVE IT HERE!'

But, in my defense...I did tell her about the tantrums..and the bad days..and how they're demanding and expect EVERYTHING of you. I told her things...and when I told other aupairs what I had told her..they were like...MAN! IF YOU TOLD ME THAT I'D NEVER COME!.....but until you combine what I told her...with the rest of my stories...with the rest of the things that went on in that's impossible to understand. You can't completely and fully GET it until you're in the thick of it..and I knew that. But still...As much as they used me and abused me and took advantage of me...I care about those girls..and I wanted someone who would love them and take care of them and be good to them. So I told her more good things than bad..and told her that all aupairs deal with crappy circumstances..but as far as wages and weeks off're lucky to be working for them because they pay the most and give the most time off out out everyone that I know. And yes, I know...that the whole lotta CRAZY that comes with the job has a heckuva lot to do with that...but as much as sometimes those kids drove me crazy...I do love all of them. Even when the seven year old like to tell me to bleep the bleep off because she bleeping hated me for bleeping making her take a bleeping shower. I'm an awful person, I know. I mean..SHOWERING. COME ON. HOW COULD I BE ANY MEANER?!?

That being much as it pained me to listen to this poor girl ramble on tonight..I felt a sigh of relief that it wasn't just me. That they still are crazy. That they've ALWAYS been crazy, and it wasn't just me. That the kids are nuts. And the mother is demanding beyond belief. That she's tired of the job, exhausted and just doesn't know what to do anymore.

And then I felt this gut-wrenching-oh-my-god-what-have-I-done pain in my heart. I ENCOURAGED someone to go through this? To be that person who has to suffer through this? Yes, you get a payoff for taking on this job..but at what price? And at what price is it just not WORTH it anymore? Sure, they'll always find someone..but how could I be okay with encouraging someone to put themselves into a situation that I know is not healthy? And worse yet..I told her she'd be okay. I told her that if she wasn't..what was the worst that could happen..she'd go home and be in the same spot she'd been in last spring. I think that the worst part for me is that I DID bend over backwards for them..and I did make it harder for her to stand up to them..because I never did. I never took a stance and said what needed to be said..and my lack of action spoke louder than words ever will. All of the aupairs there took abuse and were used and hurt and never said anything. And if anyone ever did..they were reprimanded and further yet, PUNISHED as if THEY were the children..instead of the ones RAISING the children.

So I did the only thing that I could think of doing. I talked to her..and told her that it'd be okay. And I reminded her of her fabulous Greece trip that she'd returned from a few weeks ago..and talked about all of the fun places she'd get to go in the future. I reminded her that it's okay to give up and go home..and even if she didn't..that it's still okay to think about it. I gave her some things that I figured out towards the end of my year there...I joked and tried to be there for her when she was feeling frustrated, upset, lonely and down. And in the end..she thanked me and told me that it was really nice to have someone to talk to who knew EXACTLY what she was going through.

And I do.

But I still can't help but feel a tinge guilty..that even though I know that she's a fabulous person..and so good for the kids...that I helped to put her into this situation that I don't think is really healthy for ANYONE. I believe that all things happen for a reason...even if we don't know what those things are at the time. And I really hope that there was a reason for this, because she really is a sweet, loving, caring, nice person. I really just hate to think of the circumstances that make it hard for her to continue on there and my involvement in that.

So I will do my best. And make sure that she knows that I'm here..and respond to emails and remind her to focus on the good things. Because there are always good things...even if you have to look a while, put on your rose coloured glasses..and dig through years of old blog posts to find them.

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhh my dear, I am SO glad you're finished with that job! I know you loved the Europe part and the hanging out with the other aupairs part, but seriously... that family is just a whooooole lotta crazy that you just don't need in your life!