Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are You My Mother?

In honor of my beloved mother's birthday (Happy Birthday mommy!!) I thought I would share my "mother-y" experiences.

Being an au pair is tough: you live with a family that isn't your own, take care of children that don't belong to you, and you negotiate this boundary between servant, employee (trust me there is a difference), moocher, and family member (also a difference). The fine line between the mother and au pair is often blurred with me, and to tell you the truth it doesn't make me feel grossed out or mad, but it does make me feel a bit sad. Kids at school are always commenting to Stephanie & Mark about "how cool their mom is" (because I give "underdogs" on the swing set--thank you dad! and can school any of those kids in a game of PIG) and sometimes Stephanie and Mark correct them, but a lot of the time they let the comment slide. It is semi-sad that, because I'm picking them up from French or swimming, other people think I'm doing the role of the mother (but maybe that just means that society is messed up because we assume that that is the mother's role). The mom always sends me a SMS saying, "Oh I wish I could be there!"--but at what point does being there become more important than just saying it? (Thank you to my mom for being there, and my dad for being there and allowing for the purchase of many, many pairs of shoes.)

What makes me feel more awkward than sad is when Mark and/or Stephanie call ME mom. I usually try to deflect it by saying, "Oh you're mom is on her way home!" or something funny (well they think it's funny) like, "Oh I know you aren't talking to me!" It is even more awkward when the mom is home--that just kills me. Speaking of awkwardness: Monday night we went to a play at the children's future high school, or Upper School as they call it here. It was Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park," and it was actually really well done. During the intermission I was standing with Anna & Will and Stephanie came over wanting to be picked up (when you're barely 30 pounds you can be picked up all the time) both her parents stuck their arms out but she shrugged them off and came right to me. During the first half of the play she sat on her dad's lap but after the intermission she only wanted to sit on mine. Tuesday, their dad said, "Do you want me to read you this story, or Jill?" Both Mark & Stephanie rebuffed their father and came over to me. Now I'm not sure how to act/react in these situations? Do I say, "No no, go read with your dad" or just go along with it? Usually I just pretend I didn't notice they picked me over their parents. (I suppose it could be worse though--they could hate me!)

I was reading my friend Kylie's blog about how she was excited to be drawn into the family picture, and to tell you the truth I was excited about it too. Stephanie is currently writing five books, one about her family, her garden, her bedroom, and two other things I can't remember at the moment. The book about her family is five pages long: one for her dad, her mom, her brother, herself, and me. Anna says she always thinks of the au pair as a family member (I can't decide if it is sweet or alarming that this five year old doesn't know life without an au pair, and whenever we play Barbie there is always an au pair...)--but for now I'll think it's nice.

Tonight as I was talking about my mom and her birthday (I couldn't help it) I mentioned that their grandma is the same age as my mom now (Sorry mom! But in your defense she had her kids at 21). Mark turned to me and said, "Is your mom a grandma yet?" No, no she most definitely is NOT.

Happy Birthday MOM! (And only MOM for a long, long time!)

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