About the end.
(This is the english version of the post I just posted in brazilian portuguese on my blog, but I wanted to share it with you too)
The truth is that I came back from Holland in January and yes, who knew what I was doing there knew exactly that I should have stayed for a year, but after the troubled start that I had there, I decided to stay as long as it would be amazing. Problems, difficulties, all au pairs have to face it, but I think the intensity and the way they present themselves varies from family to family and from au pair to au pair. I like to talk about the issues , keep myself on the good mood and I always - while I was there - tried to do the teamwork, following the captain’s orders, but also demonstrating proactivity.
The issue is that my host mom was absent, worked infinitely more than the host dad during the week and although we had several conversations about how things should happen, I was never really “guided”, I never got a “do this, don’t do that” I only received feedback ( which I loved, because it was the only thing that could get from them), “ you did it and it wasn’t good” and very few “ you did it, we liked it, repeat it”. My host dad was a super affectionate, present and aware parent: he saw what happened to the children in the emotional sense and stared at the problem objectively. My host mom was super affectionate, but not as present or aware. She had a very strong vision of how she wanted to raise her children, but was not there to apply the method . And many times took power from my host dad and demoralized the choices made by him in front of the children. Imagine what it was like when it was me?
After the first few months I got used to her ways, but I felt she was very unfair and all the conversations that we had didn’t got us to any place… any questions I had and asked her opinion on were received as a sign of weakness, when I resolved things by myself it never seemed to please her… anyway…
But even worse was the fact that I found out that she spoke ill of me in front of the children. My relationship with them was very good from the start, with some occasional problems ( and I could not deal with that the way I would approach because, for example, I could not put to timeout) . The boy was the one who gave me the most trouble: he did not like to get changed to go to school and I was responsible for this task. The ideias I had and worked out were not well accepted by the mother, but the reality is that no matter what I did, or what the host dad did… the boy wanted his mother to help him. When after much shouting from him and she finally answered, he was ready in less than 3 minutes. He also viewed the relationship with the sister competitively, always wanted to win, always get the most attention, and at dinner time when we were alone, he enjoyed to put out a show. After a long time I managed to get around this , but it was not conceived by the mother. After a while the boy began to ask me if I wanted to leave in January. He began to tell me that he knew who would be the next au pair when I left and stuff like that. Those were things he heard from his mother.
As I was determined that as long it was amazing and wonderful I would take it, and as I didn’t want to face more dramas, at the end of December we talked and it was decided that after my holidays, our contract was finished. I could have picked a fight and try the rematch, but to be honest, you see: I ’m in Brazil for 3 months now and so far have not received an email from the au pair agency. On the day of our conversation I phoned up there, but as always, nobody answered. The truth is that after a while, every time my host mom gave me a tart response and completely out of nowhere, I felt I was wasting my time there.
I know, I know, being an au pair is a unique experience. I understood many things about myself and my relationship with the world, with other people. Living in the Netherlands is another unique experience. I loved my bike with all my heart, I would die of pleasure to cycle every meter of cyclepath that Baarn has. I felt alive when pedaling fast down to station and the cold wind’d cut my face and then I’d jump and lock my bike and run to catch the train. The train that took me to one of the places I love most in the world. Planning trips showed me that yes, there are no pleasures like going around with your backpack and see the world, on your time, on your way, anywhere - near or far - just point the finger on the map, check your budget and go! Do not get me wrong, everything I lived there was beautiful and was intense and was wonderful. It’s an experience I’ll never stop recommending… who wants it, who can do it: go! Go and you will feel alive.
It turns out that when I went, I had expected much a long time to go. I started projects because I could not stand still while waiting and then I had to interrupt them. I postponed plans that are really important to my happiness, just to have this experience. I put in the back of my mind things I always wanted to do to prioritize the experience of going to Holland. When I realized that I had left it all stopped in Brazil to fulfill a dream … and when you realize that dreams that turns into reality are just that: reality, and reality comes with everything that is real, including pain, disappointment and doubt, I weighed everything… and I saw that the dream as wonderful as it was, was not making up for what I left in Brazil. And when the time came to decide: try the rematch or come back, I chose to return. I chose to turn off the “pause ” of all that matters most .
We have to make choices based on what will make us happy in the long -term. I was very happy, despite the leaps and bounds in my five months in Holland. I made friendships that have become very important while I was there and they’re lasting, but five months were enough for me. My exchange had a expiration date from the beginning, I just chose to end it before, because what will make me happy for life was here and not there. It has never been there and I always knew that .