I can finally describe the best day I’ve had on this journey because, after two months, it has finally happened–I felt like a real au pair. Not surprising, it was the very first time that Audrey was actually gone the entire day and I suddenly felt my being here was necessary. It was a Friday and I had my first lone lunch with the kids, just the four of us. There was a huge fight and I resolved it my way—not Audrey’s. I felt such a breakthrough with the kids because I was finally able to establish some authoritative boundaries. Then Audrey’s mother-in-law came to visit for the weekend so we went to pick up the kids from school together.
The mother-in-law is a very eclectic woman and speaks only French, which put my French/charade skills to the test. Apparently, Audrey does not get along with her mother-in-law (no surprises there) because she does not always agree with how she raises her kids (giving us a lot in common). And this is the reason Audrey arranged to be away from the house all day. So for the rest of the afternoon all I did was play with the kids. I helped Lilly with an art creation (twig basket equipped with flower petals), jumped on the trampoline, taught Cassie how to ride Eliot’s scooter (two-wheels instead of three), bathed the kids and then we all started to play Life while cooking dinner. The time flew by and we all had so much fun. I finally felt like I belonged here.
That was until Audrey came home. She was huffing, puffing and stomping around like she does and seemed very upset. I was thinking to myself that it must have been a stressful day (she was visiting a friend at the hospital) or she was not in the mood to talk with her mother-in-law. It never crossed my mind that she was actually upset at me. Come to find out later, all the anger was directly because I didn’t hang the jackets up, put the shoes away or have the glass table spick and spotless. Basically, the first day I actually felt like an actual au pair, Audrey got upset because I neglected to be the perfect maid. Moral of this story: she does not need an au pair; she needs a maid that can babysit sometimes.
I tried to explain the situation–as in sorry, I was playing with your kids and did not have a chance to satisfy your obessive need for clean (I put it nicely).
In a fit of rage she asked, “Do you really want to be here because you can leave early?”
What I should have said was, “As a matter of fact, no, I don’t because I am tired of being an underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated, bored illegal immigrant.”
Instead, I somehow managed with hot cheeks and shaking hands, “I am sorry, I will pay better attention and try to do better.”
My new plan is to beat her at her own game and make everything more perfect than her expectations foresee. I don’t think this will invoke any sense of compassion in Audrey towards my life, but I do hope it will help to avoid any more “talks” that leave me wanting to scream out of anger all the time.
Yes, I have reached a very unhealthy state of mind.