Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

In the spirit of ‘when it rains it pours,’ we’ve had a very interesting couple weeks around the ol’ homestead. Most of the time I feel like I have the best life in the world, but sometimes it becomes glaringly obvious to me that I maybe should have just been a cat lady. I know I’m not the only Mom who feels routinely inadequate at this whole gig. For example:

  • My stay at home mom friends miss grown up time and wonder if their kids are getting enough stimulation.
  • My working moms feel guilty a lot about whether their kids are getting enough of them.
  • I feel guilty about both those things and the fact that I don’t enjoy any of it ‘enough’.

My gig is Consult from Home Mommy. I keep my head in the career game providing management consulting to companies I like on a less than full time basis, in addition to working on my next book and blogging and stuff. Our family needs my income while our gym grows, which means we need help with the kids on days when I need to be focused on work. For two years we used au pairs to help with this. An au pair, for the uninitiated, is a foreign student who lives in your home and, at least according to the agency ads, provides childcare and tasks related to child care like laundry, cooking and cleaning for the kids.  It is about half the cost of daycare, and your kids get to be in your house all day. We thought it was a wonderful solution until it wasn’t. Here is our experience:

The positive:

  • If your au pair likes you AND likes your kids AND has a compatible lifestyle with yours AND doesn’t feel entitled to a better lifestyle than even the host family has it can work out great.
  • You theoretically have 45 hours a week of childcare that is flexible to a certain extent.
  • It’s cheap.

The negative:

  • Point one is very, very unlikely to happen
  • You have to provide transportation for your au pair to go places whenever they want
  • You have to deal with their social media drama and bad life choices
  • Sometimes they decide they despise you and refuse to talk to you
  • Sometimes they guzzle wine in their rooms and show up to work totally unfit for duty
  • Sometimes they sneak out at night to visit their boyfriend in another city, stealing your car to do so, and then sleep all day instead of watching your kids (didn’t happen to me, that I know of, but happened to a friend).
  • When things go awry, the agency will tell you that these girls are NOT professional child care givers and you should have known that.
  • They may lie to you and also tell your children questionable things.
  • You give up a room in your house and your privacy because it turns out they report private conversations to their friends and agencies and even text pictures of you and your home to other people.
  • They don’t always speak adequate English to be safe.

So, as you might have guessed, the sun set rather suddenly on our au pair adventure and we were left with no childcare AND an upcoming trip for Tony to go see his new granddaughter.

The bright side is that there is someone wonderful who doesn’t hate me (yet) who can start regularly next week. In the meantime, as I mentioned last week, our granddaughter arrived so Dreamy went home to help with Jericho while Mom and Dad adjusted. I normally can handle anything, but 3 littles with no help is a bit beyond even my stellar coping abilities. Fortunately MY mom came to the rescue but unfortunately, not for the whole time.

I can say this with absolutely sincerity…Single Moms…you by far have it the toughest of ANYONE. I really don’t know how you do it. Even though I missed Dreamy terribly, and was very glad he got to be there for his kids, I found myself resenting the heck out of any advice he gave from afar.  When he inquired whether I thought it would be okay for him to go help a friend the day after he got back from 5 days away

I was truly undecided whether that was grounds for divorce or murder. I missed him THAT much!

And you know what? I have it so good! My kids are healthy, and relatively normal, and usually pretty fun to be around. It’s just a tough gig. Period.

And today I read about a little one-year-old girl whose parents found a lump on her ribs that is malignant and all of a sudden I am catapulted to equal parts gratitude for what I’ve got and shame for not appreciating it enough.

So after a week of Dreamy being away, I have a ton of work to do and so does he and so we are taking our little posse to the BEACH to just enjoy them. Peace out!

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