like a baby in the water
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.