Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Our new back-up: An au pair

SUNDAY, January 31 – Soon we’ll be off to Schiphol airport in order to pick up E, our au pair, who’s flying in from the United States. The tentative plan is for a year. We need some back-up. Especially me, but the boys as well. She’ll provide stability for them when they come home from school and hopefully more flexibility for me after I return to work.

I want to work full time and it’s a step I feel I have to take. It’s not that I’m trying to take refuge in my work, but, rather, I know that my work gives me new energy and this renewed strength will help me being a father to my boys. Finding a balance between work and family can only help us to face the future with more confidence.

It was during our time in Washington that we got to know E. She lived on the same street and sometimes looked after Sander and Eamonn. We were crazy about her. Last Summer she’d emailed Jennifer to ask if we knew of anyone who was looking for an au pair. We didn’t, but I remember Jennifer telling me about her email. So, in late November I sent her a cautious email.

She replied immediately and enthusiastically, as she had already considered this possibility herself. After a few phone calls and emails back and forth, we decided to take the plunge and at this moment her plane is just about to land. There was a slight delay due to the winter weather, which may be quite shocking for someone who has spent years in Florida.

It’s going to involve considerable give and take. Not only because the three of us are so close, but also because there will again be a woman in the house. Naturally, she is not going to replace Jennifer.  She’s not going to be a surrogate mother or a stand-in wife. Nothing like that. What we need is help for the family and I’m very grateful. I also admire her courage and her willingness to come and take up this job.

According to the boys, there is only one disadvantage: ‘Now we can’t go running around naked anymore.’

E. emailed back that that was not a problem, which was reassuring.

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