Publié par : Camille | 26 mai 2015


Le 14 décembre 2011, j’ai publié cet article sur un autre blog créé après mon retour. Cet article m’est venu naturellement en anglais, alors c’est comme cela que je le partage sur ce blog aujourd’hui. Je n’ai jamais fait les articles que j’avais promis dans mon dernier bilan, mais ce blog a besoin d’une conclusion alors la voici !


December 14, 2011. 2 years ago on this very day, I was on my way to discover America with my own little eyes. New York first with all the other Au pairs from all over the world, then Nashville -which then became my « American hometown ». Yet, on the plane, I was thinking “Why am I doing this? Am I crazy? Okay, can this plane just turn around, I don’t think I can do this!! Maybe I’ll just hijack it…” (Then I started to think about this story someone told me about a guy who got his spoon taken away by airport security after 9/11, and how you could possibly hijack a plane with a spoon, but that is another subject). At all time when I was planning this and getting ready for it, I had no fear, no wonder, no second thought. To everyone telling me I was brave, I would say “I don’t think it’s that brave”. To everyone asking me if I was scared, I would answer “No, I’m just excited!”. But suddenly, it was becoming real. It was not a fantasy anymore. It was happening. And there were no turning back. I remember that during those long hours sitting on this big plane, between half-sleeping, trying to watch movies and sobbing, I wrote something in a little notebook. I wrote how I felt at this very moment. Trapped in this flying thing, I was facing my fears. So I wrote them down to let them go, hoping it would stop me from crying. I was afraid the family was not going to be as great as I thought they were. I was afraid I would not be able to take care of kids on a daily basis. I was wondering why I decided to do this, and even after more than one year knowing exactly why, I suddenly couldn’t think of any good reasons. All I could see was that I was going to change diapers, do laundry and clean the kids mess -so it didn’t seem that appealing after all. Next to me were those two girls who a little earlier had a paper with my Au pair agency logo on it. They were going where I was going. They were going to do what I was going to do. But they were acting normal. Talking to each other in Dutch or something, laughing… Why was I the only one feeling like this? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for it. I thought I could just leave my family and friends for a whole year without caring, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I wasn’t as brave as everyone else seemed to think. Maybe I was just a big dreamer, but when it came to reality I was really a coward. Yes, after everything I’ve been through to get on that plane, all I wanted now that I was finally there was to get out and go back.

When we landed, after what seemed like a 20 hour flight surrounded by German (Lufthansa…) and English that I was too tired to understand, I felt a little better. I was in New York, I made it, yay me. Actually I was more happy to finally be out of this thing, and I figured out later during the year why: though I love airplane trips, whenever I am too far from the windows I feel uncomfortable toward the end of the flight. Add that to the stress, the fear, the sadness and the tiredness… you get the picture. I was a total mess before we landed, so I was just relieved to be on the ground, out of this torturing machine. On my way to customs, I heard two French girls talking, one of them looking like the girl I met on an online board for French Au pairs. I introduced myself, and we stayed together. I was feeling much better because I wasn’t alone anymore. Maybe that’s why the two girls on the plane weren’t a mess like I was, because they were not alone, and having company didn’t let them any time to think. When I arrived in my bedroom at the hotel -alone because my roommates were arriving only during the night- it strucked me again : what the hell am I doing here? I was in New York, well actually in Newark, and I wasn’t even happy about it. So I cried again, wishing I could just blink and be back in my own bedroom in my own house. Then I took a shower, pulled myself together, met the French Au pairs for dinner, and got back to my room where I cried myself to sleep. The next day, I was all better. I had a rough night because my two roommates made quite a big entrance around 1am and we had to get up early to start the Au pair training, but I didn’t have time to think anymore. And mostly, I wasn’t alone. I met other nice Au pairs along the day, and had a good time listening to those nice and a bit crazy American Au Pair Care staff. I wasn’t scared anymore, and I wasn’t wondering what I was doing here. No, now I knew again, and my excitement came back. Hearing all those stories about kids and stuff was just making me want to meet “my” kids even more, and live it instead of hearing about it. When we went to New York in the evening, I was beyond happy to discover the city. The next night we had a great pizza party with some Au pairs, and I had a lot of fun. Everything was back to normal.

When I arrived in Nashville, I had a little breakdown when I sent a text to my mum saying I arrived and was in the room that was going to be my bedroom for a year. Gosh, for a whole year, really? There was the scary feeling again. But I pulled myself together, trying to be happy about what I’d gained -a very nice host family in a very nice and big house in what appeared to be a very nice city- instead of « mourning » what I’d lost. Because after all, I hadn’t loose anything, I was going to get it all back in a year, so they were nothing to mourn anyway.

About one month after I arrived, I wrote in that little notebook again (you know, the one which got to play my therapist on the plane). Not because I wasn’t feeling well, not because I was feeling sad again, not even because I needed to. All I needed was to tell the girl on the plane that it was just a phase, and that everything was okay now. And also to tell my future self, the girl who would be reading this notebook in 30 years thinking “Wow, I was a mess!”, that I got over it. So I wrote that now I knew why I did it. I knew it wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t easy everyday, but the sound of this 2 year-old-red-hair’s laugh and the bounding moments with this tricky 7 year-old-blondie-girl were always reminding me I made the right choice by coming here and choosing this family. It was only the beginning, but I knew I was going to have an amazing year. Okay, having spent New Year’s Eve in St Barth might have helped getting to that a little bit, but fortunately it wasn’t the only reason I was feeling good about this whole Au pair adventure.

Over the year, I built such a wonderful relationship with these two kids. I had some hard times, they weren’t always easy and I got angry a lot, but when I stopped taking those “fights” personally and moved on when it was over (like them) it went by pretty smoothly. Every laughs, every games, every time we shared something… that’s what I remember today. Not the fights with Brendan about food or Hannah crying on the floor still half-sleeping and not willing to get ready for school in the morning. Well, that too, but it doesn’t matter. What matters, the real memories, are all the good times we had. Singing “Bear necessities” in front of a beautiful sunset on the ocean on the St Barth villa’s sundeck. Drawing pets on rocks with Hannah. Watching Tchoupi with Brendan and hearing him sing the theme song in French. Watching Full House with Hannah and see her enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid myself. Making forts everywhere in the house and pretending we were sleeping, waking up, and going on adventures (although the last part wasn’t happening very often because most of the time Brendan would wake up before Hannah said so, she would get mad, and he would stop playing). Seeing Brendan get down the biggest slide of the playground for the very first time. Helping Hannah do her art projects that I would always end up finishing by myself. Teaching Brendan how to dress up by himself and be so proud to see him do it. Hearing Hannah improve her fiddle skills months after months. Having Brendan on my laps his head laid on my chest telling me “I love you Camille”. Sharing goofy moments with Hannah. Going into the pool with Brendan during his swimming lesson so he would stop being so scared that he was crying and screaming his guts off, and seeing him take his lesson alone the next day. Being a big part of Brendan’s potty training success. Making big leaves piles or fly kites without a string at the park (not easy, I’m telling ya -but so fun). Being there to see Brendan sing on a stage for the first time, next to his big sister. Being proud of them like a mom when they improved or succeeded at something. The list could be so much longer. Add to that my trips to Los Angeles (x3!), San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York, and all the girls nights -out or in front of the TV- with my friend Sandra (yes, I had only one good friend there, but she was a really good one!). The point is, I love Hannah and Brendan so much and had such an amazing time that I could never regret the choice I made of being an Au pair.

Everyone has its own experience and lives it a different way, but you cannot know what it is to be an Au pair until you’ve lived it. If you are willing to do it, you are probably picturing it in your mind… and will surely live a whole different thing. Hopefully even better that you imagined. During the interview for the agency, they ask what is our “dream host family”. Mine was living in California, and had 2 or 3 little girls from 2 to 7 (twins would have been a plus). I ended up in Tennessee with a 2 year-old boy and a 7 year-old girl, but I wouldn’t trade this host family for anything. They are a part on my life now, and a part of my heart will always be with them. When I came back to Nashville a few weeks ago to visit them, I was scared I would feel out of place because I didn’t have a “role” anymore. I wasn’t the “Au pair”, I was just… well, I didn’t really know what I was actually. But when I arrived, I just felt like home. Like everything was right, in its place, and that I was a part of it as much as I was the year before. For everyone, it seemed almost normal that I was there. I wasn’t a visitor. It was like I never even left. I felt like a part of this house. And of course when I left again, it broke my heart to see the kids crying and wishing I could stay a whole year once again. While I was there, we celebrated my host dad’s daughter’s birthday, and mine at the same time because it was coming soon. I was surprised and thought it was really nice of them to include me in the party. I had my initial on the homemade cake, and they even gave me gifts. One of them was a heart pendant. Well, I think they couldn’t have chosen a better gift. Now, not only these kids are always with me in my mind and my heart, they are with me through this necklace. One year ago I left a piece of my heart with them, now I have ‘literally’ a piece of theirs.

So there it is. From the crying girl wondering what the hell she was doing to the happy girl who had an amazing year and discovered a country she will always love. From wondering how I could hijack a plane with a spoon to having two wonderful kids in my heart. 2 years ago on this very day, I was on my way to discover America with my own little eyes… 2 years later, I am SO glad I did.


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