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Saturday, July 29, 2006

like a baby in the water

I'm back in Paris and officially no longer an au pair.

It's been a long haul and I'm happy to say I came out alive. Not only that, but I didn't kill the children, gain 50 pounds from all my croissant bingeing, or suffocate in my tiny apartment.

In fact, I came out stronger, with a firm grasp on the French culture and language, and a loving relationship with two tiny, difficult human beings.

There were many times I wanted to leave Paris. I felt that my mind and body belonged to the family I worked for, and was overwhelmed with the weight of my responsibilities.

But this isn't the kind of job I felt I could just walk out on. As an au pair you don't see those you work for sitting behind a desk in a suit all day, it's much more personal than that. You see them after work, and you sit down for dinner with them. You tuck their kids into bed at night. You see them tired and vulnerable, stressed out, at loose ends by the end of the day.

I wanted to do do everything I could to make their lives easier and to make their children happy. I wanted the kids to feel loved.

I pushed myself countless times this year. I pushed myself to be patient, understanding, adaptable. I pushed myself through long days after sleepless nights, when high energy was demanded of me.

It was a hard year and I'm happy to be done. I'm proud of myself for doing the best I could. I'm proud for staying. It's a small achievement in the scheme of things, but it's a good starting point. I now know just what I'm capable of, and the world sits before me with many more rivers to cross.

I won't forget the screaming, the fighting, the loneliness and the dark days of winter. But I also won't forget the little girl and I jumping in the waves, holding hands in the sea, or the young boy, whose eyes always held a certain adoration for me.

I initially took on this job so that I could see Paris. And I did see Paris, I admired it's sights and indulged in it's delicacies. But what I saw most clearly was an insight into life: into parenthood, earning a living, breaking into a new culture, and fighting to make it in this mad world.

I stand before an ending and new beginnings, and I've never felt so ready.


Blogger bma said...

i have enjoyed your adventure. thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. give yourself a pat on the back. take a moment to enjoy your accomplishment before moving on. you deserve it. then, go get 'em.
....and the adventure continues....

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Congrats Gill! Bless you for allowing yourself to "grow" in every respect. I am reminded of the American Express ad . . . .your experience and the personal benefit you have gained from this aspect of your life journey is . . . . .PRICELESS!
Best wishes to you and all of your new endeavors.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

Gillian!!! You're done! Wow, I can no longer refer to you as my sexy Paris au pair... sexy Toronto journalism student sounds pretty good too, though.

Are you still in Paris? Tess is there. She has my old phone (same number). So... if you've got some spare time give her a ring. I'll be there August 6-10 but I imagine you'll be in the South by then. So if our paths don't cross for a while, I'll just keep on looking forward to reunions in Toronto or New York. (Or should we roadtrip to Montreal? I hear they like fumer tue up there...)


12:50 AM  
Blogger La Page Française said...

Congratulations on having finished out your year as an au pair. It sounds like you have really gotten a whole lot out of it and learned a lot along the way, which you can now bring to your next adventures. I wish you lots of luck as you continue your university studies next year, as well as dealing with any reverse culture shock!

3:17 AM  
Blogger eurobrat said...

Congratulations... It has been such a joy to read about your time in Paris. Thank you for sharing it.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Oh merci merci merci to my dear readers who were with me all the way.

Charlie, yes I am out of the city of love and down South where my body belongs. Montreal roadtrip sounds does Toronto and New York. As fumer tue we can take on the world...hell you just did India! Gros bisous and keep in touch mon amour.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

It's been wonderful to see my beloved Paris through your eyes. Thanks for sharing.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Mirella said...

Hello Gill,
First of all congratulations! It is an important achivement, and you did, and took a lot out of it. I am a mother and I know it's really difficult to do what you've done. I sincerely admire your strenght and maturity!
I enjoyed to participate (in a way)of your experience,I wanted to thank you for taking me along your adventure!
I will keep reading your blog, and I regret that we couldn't meet.
Keep in touch, and all the best to you!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

It is a huge achievement and it's been such a joy to read your beautiful photos and gaze at your stunning photos. You are a bright star and no doubt will continue to shine. I hope you'll keep blogging - we all do!

Bon continuation.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Congratulations Gill! J-school profs always tell us to avoid cliches...but you're one tough cookie. I don't think I would have survived but you have definitely inspired me to try! See ya soon...

10:30 PM  

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