You see, I've never had help with the children before....never never never. One set of Grandparents live in France and the other set live a five-hour drive away. And there are no brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins even remotely near to help out. No, up until Marion's arrival at the beginning of January, everything I did always involved dragging children along with me. There were even instances, on more than one occasion, where I had to wake a sleeping baby to make a hospital dash in the middle of the night because I had a toddler who was writhing around in agony (I thought it was appendicitis) or boiling and blue (I don't think the doctors ever knew what that was). And whilst I was doing this, my husband was in New Zealand, or China, or somewhere in Africa and I might as well have been a single mother. So when the request came through from Marion - a niece of JP's brother-in-law who we'd never met before, to spend some time in England, I didn't know what to think. On the one hand I was in desperate need of some help, and Marion was being offered on a plate. But on the other hand, I was reluctant to commit to having her for eight months in case we couldn't stand the sight of each other after five minutes. Or worse still, it became clear that I didn't need help at all and there was nothing for her to do.
So we settled on two months. And that two months has today come and gone. And the truth is -we could stand the sight of each other. And there was always something for her to do. And the children loved her. And she read them bedtime stories in French. And she kept me company when JP was away. And she made them meals. And she helped me dress them. And she allowed me some time to breathe. And she made me laugh. And now she's gone and I want her back. And so does Edie - if her morning call of 'Marion, Marion. Where Marion gone?' is anything to go by. And in a pathetic attempt to make myself feel better I wrote a list of the pros and cons of having an au pair (somehow hoping to find some cons) - but there were too many pros and no cons and it didn't make me feel any better. But I thought I'd share the list with you anyway...
Pros of having an au pair:-EverythngCons of having an au pair:-Nothing
Insightful hey? I miss Marion. What can I say?
I can say, Marion thank you for being so wonderful. Thank you for cooking us crepes and making me cups of tea even though you didn't drink them yourself. Thank you for loving my children even though they pulled your hair and threw tantrums when you tried to dress them. Thank you for listening to all my woes on a daily basis and never ever complaining. Thank you for speaking such good English that I never had to repeat myself or talk slowly. Thank you for enjoying the same television programmes as me so we never had to argue about what to watch in the evening. Thank you for folding the clothes just the way I like them and thank you for learning how to load the dishwasher properly. But most of all thank you for giving me back a few spare moments so I can remember what it's like to feel sane again. And contrary to what Mr or Mrs Anonymous might have said at the end of my last post, I do like spending time with my children. That's why I'm still here. But 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without ever having a break is a little bit too much time. Even for me. And now Marion's gone, I'm just going to have to learn how to do it on my own all over again.