When looking for a family to Au Pair for, I decided to choose one that I knew had experience with this kind of arrangement; a family who had already had an au pair before me. Since then, I have, at times, doubted this choice knowing that, to my pairs, I am only “one of the many.” I also often wondered how these kinds of relationships would affect them. I mean, there are some days when my youngest will ask me when I’ll be going back to Canada, for fear that goodbye is just around the corner (which is also super flattering). It has often had me thinking that it must be so rough to have to go through a constant string of goodbyes.
But after this week, I now know that my pairs are two of the luckiest kids in the world. I now know that, not only have they had the opportunity to have some incredible relationships with some very wonderful and diverse individuals, but that having these kinds of relationships throughout their lives is probably one of the most beneficial things that could ever happen to them.
This past week, I’ve been going through quite a transition period. I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, about the friends that I had in university who I hardly know anymore; many of whom I don’t know where they are, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. Friends who I saw every day, who I had such close and intimate relationships with, and it seems, all of a sudden, that I don’t know their lives anymore. I really felt like I was losing out, and would reminisce on how much better I had it two years earlier when all of us were together on a Sunday night, just hanging out in between study breaks. I was having such a hard time realizing that the people who used to be such an active presence in my life, simply weren’t anymore. It hit hard.
And then I remembered that this same thing happened in high school. You meet people that you share an interest with, then you make some incredible memories together, and along the way you move on in different directions, create different lives, and you begin to drift a part. The first time I ever really dealt with this was after high school, and here I am again dealing with it after university. For eighteen years prior to these transitions, I had never really dealt with anything like it, and I quickly learned that it’s quite overwhelming to have to start dealing with it now.
But then I look at my pairs, and I realize that they won’t go through this same turmoil that I’m going through, at least not to the same degree. They have had many fantastic women come into their lives to take care of them, and these same women are still very much apart of their lives today, even if they are not as actively and physically present as they used to be. My pairs already have life-long friends scattered across the globe. I see them now, laughing at old pictures, becoming enthralled in enthusiastic conversations with these friends over skype, discussing memories over breakfast that they’ve shared with them; and these are smiling, happy kids. Because they still feel this deep connection to these women, these kids aren’t saddened by the fact that they’re not with them every day. My pairs already know how to close one chapter in their lives and begin another one, with new people, and they understand that even though they can’t experience this chapter of their lives again in the same way, they will always have these memories and these people to treasure even when they can’t always be there actively. I think this is one of the most valuable lessons you can teach a child, and which makes my 5 and 8-year-old pairs a hell of a lot more emotionally mature than this 22-year-old novice.
People come into your life, and they drift out of your life, but their presence, even for the most fleeting of moments, is never forgotten. Such is life. There is nothing tragic about these transitions, and nothing that should be taken as harshly and severely as many of us do. We all weep at partings, and while it may be sad to say goodbye to that part of your life, it doesn’t have to be felt with such great loss. It is good to look forward to the opportunities ahead, and it’s healthy to accept the things we cannot control instead of burdening ourselves with them. We can accept that, as much as we say we’ll keep in touch, life happens. It gets in the way, people change, time moves on, and to know how to deal with such change and to take these moments for what they are is such a remarkable quality. The sooner we realize and understand how to move forward and how to adapt, the happier we will be with the relationships that we’ve built.
I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this process for my pairs, and I’m thoroughly impressed that while I’m only figuring out how to deal with such change now, they have already learned how to accept it. They know how to deal with such a harrowing process before learning what 5×5 equals or before knowing what taxes are. This is amazing. Nothing I teach them will ever have as tremendous of an influence as this profound ability to accept life for what it is, because life will always go on – it’s up to us to decide when we will go along with it.