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    I left my au pair at the airport today and cried all the way home. This actually took me by surprise and when I rang my mum I cried even more leading me to hang up quickly as I had to get myself together before my next meeting. This is how most of us live our lives these days, putting on a brave face even when we don’t feel up to it.

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    I left my au pair at the airport today and cried all the way home. This actually took me by surprise and when I rang my mum I cried even more leading me to hang up quickly as I had to get myself together before my next meeting. This is how most of us live our lives these days, putting on a brave face even when we don’t feel up to it.

     

    People often ask me how I do it. Very often I get emails from mums asking for advice because I make it look so easy. If I’m being brutally honest most of the time its not easy at all and I cried today because my au pair was very simply so kind to me. Yes I know she was working for me but I was so grateful for her help. Even this morning she could see how frantic I was and she knew it was a big day for me at work so she offered to take James to school even though she was getting ready to leave herself and when I got home there were no dishes in the sink! This might not sound like much to many people but to me it’s like winning the lottery. Having her here has also meant that I don’t feel guilty about asking people to mind him for a while or pick him up when I’m running late. Easing that parental guilt even slightly is just priceless.

     

    It was early last year when I decided to look for an au pair for James as babysitting was costing me a fortune. I’m a single mother and my job is not 9-5. I have college evenings and weekends and I also travel to London sometimes for work, not to mention the early starts that are simply sometimes a necessity in my job. I also needed to find a solution that caused minimum disruption to James routine. I was worried about having a stranger move into my home and if I’m honest it’s not easy having someone live with you and my house is also tiny so not much room for breathing space. My first two au pairs were a disaster and actually caused me more stress than stress relief but I decided to give it one more shot and thankfully Hyojoo came along.

     

    Hyojoo was incredibly well mannered, polite, kind and a pleasure to have in my home. Now that’s not to say there weren’t teething problems because lets be honest I have a four year old and it’s their job to challenge pretty much everyone around them and James is no different but as their relationship grew he really grew to love her. As a mother there is no better feeling than leaving for work and feeling comfortable about the person left looking after your child.

     

    As I drove away today though I knew deep down that there was also another level to my tears. When James woke the morning Hyojoo was leaving he asked why people didn’t want to live with us and when I asked him what he meant he said because his dad’s not here and Hyojoo was leaving. I cannot tell you as a mother how heartbreaking that was and it reminded me how we really never know what kids are thinking.

     

    Although I’ve finally accepted five years on that James’s dad is not around, that little annoying voice inside me about the so-called perfect family keeps rearing its ugly head. I let myself work through my emotions — first anger (at his dad), then guilt and I came back to my resting place of acceptance of how things are.

     

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very content these days because I know the only thing I can do is make sure I do the best job possible with James and enjoy every day along the way. I simply can’t control circumstances outside of that. I’m also learning a valuable lesson on this journey: the importance of being honest with both myself and James.

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    When I picked James up from school he was really upset as he said he really loved Hyojoo. We talked about her missing her mum and heading back to Korea to tell everyone about this wonderful little boy she looked after in Ireland. Then we talked about the types of families out there and how lucky he was to have so many people in his life who love him and he said, ‘Do you know what Mum? I really am the luckiest boy in the world.’

     

    Our au pair came here to look after a little boy and help me around the house but she became part of our family. Not just an extra pair of hands but another member of the team. For now it’s just the two of us again, my little family, my little team, but that’s OK, we’ve survived before!

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