29 December 2010

7:40 p.m.

The kid are sleeping. We had a really fun evening. I got home from work early, and we spent fifteen minutes or so playing around on the new gymnastics mats in the basement, doing somersaults and airplane lifts and making human sandwiches (that sounds so gross, but you know what I mean).

Then it was dinner, one of those marvelous occasions on which the main course (butternut squash soup) was enthusiastically received by all and carrot (Riley) and celery (Maddie) sticks were consumed with gusto.

Off it was to the bath, where no one threw a tantrum when the bubble machine didn't work and there were no tears about hair washing or combing out. We had extra time for stories, we sang an extra song, and the light was out by 7:25 p.m.

And now, here I am with a glass of wine and my after-bedtime snack. I have a couple of bills to pay. There's a load of laundry about to shift to the rinse cycle. I could write some thank-you notes.

But the dishes are washed, the play areas are clean, there's no need to pack lunches. This post is really an ode to Z and how she has transformed our lives in the past two months. She delights in the kids, and they in her. I've been able to hear their Spanish skills just explode. Taking care of Maddie and Riley is clearly her priority, but she is also a huge help to me around the house, which has freed up my time in ways I did not expect and have yet to really learn how to manage. I find myself now in the evenings with my chores done well before 8 p.m. and the whole evening stretched out before me. Usually I manage to fritter away my time on Facebook or end up asleep by 9:30 p.m. I haven't been so well rested in years, and it feels really great.

I'm not terribly surprised to find that I love having another adult in the house after hours. Sometimes, once the kids are sleeping, Z and I will cook something together or just spend time socializing. It's nice to hear stories about what the kids are doing and to help with questions Z has about life in the U.S. Often, Z will spend the evening on her computer or on the phone, visiting with friends, but just knowing that she's here and that I have backup if something goes awry is a huge load off my mind, and an unanticipated benefit of having a live in au pair.

I have wanted for some time to get an au pair, but the circumstances were never right either logistically or financially. It was worth the wait, though, and my hunch that this was a good solution for our family has been confirmed. It's nice to be headed into 2011 with such a settled, happy feeling: my job is stable and mostly good, the kids are in a good place in school, and the childcare situation is so much more than that.

Now it's 7:54 p.m. I need a few more snackies to get me through the bills. Then I think it's time for an episode of Mad Men and some reading. I started To Kill a Mockingbird a few days ago. Not sure how it could be that I've never read it before, but there you have it. What a luxury to have time to spend on these things, on myself. I am well aware of this gift.


Janine (txmomx6) said...

It sounds like a wonderful evening. You are blessed.

Janine (txmomx6) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alayna said...

Both the evening and your new situation with Z sound fabulous, and very well-deserved! I'm so glad you're able to have some time to yourself, as well as some adult company in the house. Sounds like the perfect arrangement for all of you right now!

Jody said...

So glad to read all of this. What a nice way to end one year and start the next!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely and peaceful post - I am very happy for you and your family that things are working out so well. And, yes, enjoy Mockingbird! What a gift to be reading it for the first time - your only sadness will be that Harper Lee never wrote another book (unless you subscribe to the Truman Capote theory, but that's a whole 'nother post!) Sending you a big wish that this feeling of contentment will linger long into the new year! Leslie in Santa Cruz

Keen said...

So glad your experience with Z has been so lovely! I suspected it would be. :-)

Laurel said...

Without getting into the gory financial details, I'm wondering if you'd ever be comfortable talking about how you researched and found Z. A nanny or au pair might make sense for our family at some point, but I have no idea about how we'd go about doing it. (I also don't know if it would make financial sense, but that's something I could figure out on my own.)

Also, I apologize as I should maybe know this from reading the blog, but do the kids still go to daycare? One thing I really do like about daycare is the socialization factor; but I know you have a lot of family and friends in your area so maybe you get plenty of that anyway.

Susan said...

Snick - I have been reading your blog since your husband was sick and don't comment much but enjoy your style of writing and just like blog reading I guess. You really sound at good spot right now and it is good to hear. A combination of a lot but it is good to hear about getting the extra help that you have so desperately needed!! Happy New Year.

penny said...

It was lovely meeting you-now I have a face to go with your blog.
It was so interesting reading about Z and your process in finding her. I think both of you are benefiting from this relationship--and of course the children are too.
You sound very happy and content.
After 30 years of teaching and not having the time to read (except for children's books), I am at the library often --and I recently read To Kill a Mockingbird--a book I had never read.
Have the most wonderful 2011.

Katherine said...

Great overview and summary of hosting an au pair. I, too, am widowed and though my children were older, I had an au pair for one year during their elementary school years. Though our au pair was not, personality-wise, a great match for our family, it was still a life-saver having her here with me--I had coverage for sick kids, kids who needed to go in different directions at the same time, and an adult at home so I could get a much-needed occasional night out. I would have probably done it one more year if not for the huge upfront expense and the hassle I had in finding the right person. I do still highly recommend the au pair program. You're right--it has the perception of being for wealthy families but really is perfect for couples where both have full-time jobs, or for single parents like us. You did a great job spreading the word about the benefits