One of the most difficult things for me as an au pair is that you are a part of a family, but you are also apart from a family. You are going to spend birthdays, holidays, and vacations with them. When they look back on that part of their child’s life you will be there in their memories always. You will be in family pictures. You will see children learn to walk or read or ride a bike. You will be there for it all for an entire year. You are living with them and spending the majority of your time with them, there’s no way you won’t become a part of the family.
But you are also not a member of the family. You haven’t always been there, and after this year you will be gone. Maybe you will stay in touch and visit once a year but maybe not. There most likely have been other au pairs before you and there will be other au pairs after you. It is a weird feeling. To be so completely with people, to love them and cherish them, but know you can never really be with them. Even if you only take into account the visa and immigration laws of the country, you can only be with them for a year maybe two.
It is kind of depressing. I know my family really likes me. I may even be their favorite au pair, but I am an au pair, not a sister. When they cuddle on the couch together, or stand in the driveway and wave goodbye to each other, when you take their picture is when I really feel it. These small simple every day things, that highlight your separateness from them. You see this family that you love, but will never truly be a part of.
For me it doesn’t really matter how much they love you or how much you love them or how comfortable you are with each other. Because I know my family loves me and I love them. I have hit the jackpot with them. But there is an invisible barrier that is still felt. I’ve only been here 3 months, so maybe I will change my mind as we continue to live and coexist with each other. But this is still a job. The parents are still your boss and it is a working relationship. A very unique working relationship, but still. And if you can’t go a year without being cuddled, maybe you shouldn’t be an au pair. You’ll still probably be cuddled by the kids. But when you watch TV with the family it will most likely be them and you.