Because our kids are so young, we’re familiar with caregiver burnout. Two babies sap your energy and leave you wondering where the day went and how they can produce so much mess and laundry! But when Estelle left so unexpectedly, it broke us a bit. Just sorting out the logistics of how to keep going to work while interviewing new au pairs and getting the now not working au pair home was a drama we never need to experience again. (Little comfort that this never happens when you’re the ones it happened to.) Within four days we had a new plan; within five we had a dreamy au pair lined up and Sarah Kay at the front door.
Sarah Kay came to our rescue, and the kids and we could not be more delighted! Still, suddenly you have a third ‘parent’ figure in the house, with her own experiences and ideas – someone also completely unfamiliar with the family rhythms. Learning each other’s patterns, preferences, and needs can be tricky. And all of that needs to happen while keeping the universe stable for two sensitive little people. We rocked it I think – but that’s still a lot of learning on all sides. Our first week was a nerve-wracking success in my book. With Dave in Chicago, Tante Poppins and I dug right in and got down to business.
We have a lot of rules. I have a lot of rules. When you have to communicate parenting concepts to new people every few months, rules are helpful. Where my rules and Sarah Kay’s creativity meet is a beautiful swirl of child delight. We got naps down, Tess gets to explore the world from a different angle, and Remy gets lots of comforting snuggles. Still – the initial frenzy can be a bit chaotic.
This week, they explored the grocery store, got back to the park, and created a felt book about the life of a caterpillar that Tess helped sew. She learned to cut soft fruits and help cook, and we’re working on the first steps to potty training again. She worships her aunt. Absolute adoration on that little face within minutes of her arrival.
Linguistically, we’re jokingly saying Sarah Kay is our foreign au pair – but in a way it’s true. She doesn’t speak any French, which Tess is charmed and confused by. Tess seems to be picking up quite a bit of English from her new hero, which doesn’t bother me at all since she’ll be back in French in a few weeks. We’re not anti-English; just pro-multilingual. This should be an interesting respite for her!
So life is barreling ahead in a good way, but we all seem to feel a bit exhausted nonetheless. The kids have been off their nap structure, which means they’re a little whiny and tired. (Almost back to normal though.) Dave’s needed at the office, so he’s bouncing in and out. And I’ve got a ton going on at work as well, and have not felt my smartest.
Sarah Kay is the glue, and if I wax poetic here, don’t judge. To jump in so fast and so strongly when we were so desperate was an incredible choice, and having someone so wonderful here has at times been such a relief I could cry. Friday night, the three ‘parents’ went out for a quiet bite to eat and exchanged war stories. To have a united front after a week? Amazing. Now – on to potty training and meal planning to keep this up.