Our au pair, Helena, is indisputably the very BEST additional family member of which a person could dream! Not only is Helena incredible in her interactions with our children, she also has some exceptional, unanticipated skills with which she has wowed us all. It turns out she is quite a talented artist in ways perhaps even she never quite knew, including painting and cake decorating! She made a cake for Lavi (our 4-year-old) both last year and this year that was remarkable! Special moments? With a word limit?! WOW - in the year and a half Helena has been with us, there are countless. They include her first experience of the SNOW with us, her first 4th of July (including an epic water fight), her first Halloween, her first go at ALL the Jewish holidays, her adventures with us at Family Camp in NJ last summer, her trips with us to visit grandma and grandpa in Florida (which included visits to my cousin's horse farm, the bird sanctuary near my parents' home, a water park, and, of course, the beach and pool), visits to the Zoo in both Providence and New York, birthday celebrations, play-dates, movie-outings, two Thanksgiving feasts and more. Oh, and did I mention that Helena and I (Michelle, "host-mom") take a Barre-class together every Wednesday morning at the gym as a form of boot-camp bonding?? It's a highlight of both our weeks! I've tried to get her to do Yoga with me and that's a memorable story in itself ;).
Helena is one of the most generous, kind, thoughtful, and observant people I have ever known.
But perhaps even more extraordinary than all the fantastic trips and celebrations we've had together is the way having Helena in our lives has filled all of our everyday moments--all the regular hustle and bustle of life--with ease and joy. Truly. I don't know how to express the depth of our appreciation for the calm and support Helena has brought to our lives. She has become precisely the additional partner my husband and I need in running our household and raising our children. With Nathan (host-dad) out of town 3 days each week and our both having quite full professional lives, there is no way that we could be the parents or professionals we're committed to being without Helena in our lives. She is highly socially and emotionally intelligent, organized and reliable. Helena takes initiative, delivers what's asked, and requests help/clarity/feedback all in the most ideal and professional proportions. Every friend of ours who sees us with her or sees her alone with our kids asks how we got so lucky; indeed, she has been a lifesaver for us! On top of all this, Helena is deeply astute and thoughtful, has a great sense of humor and is an all- around JOY as a housemate. Whether enjoying tea together after a long day, reflecting upon family dynamics, or sharing stories about our lives and respective families of origins late into the night, conversations with Helena are always generative, compelling and fun! I feel like she is part sister, part daughter, part professional and part friend.
Helena always joins us for weekly Sabbath dinners and holiday meals with friends or family, even if not during her working hours; she's always ready for an adventure. We're already lamenting having to see her off on her next adventure, back home in South Africa, late this Spring. She is leaving a high bar and big shoes to fill - but no one can or will ever replace Helena in our hearts or lives. I know we will stay in close touch forever. I wish for every Au Pair Care family to have an experience as positive and an au pair as sensational as ours. Helena IS the ultimate ;).
She is truly all of these things and deeply beloved by each member of our family.
Helena is one of the most generous, kind, thoughtful, and observant people I have ever known. She is quiet (at first ;) but clear and firm consistently and 100% present with anyone she is with. She has an inner sense of confidence, remarkable maturity, and grounded, particularly for someone her age, but frankly, someone of any age! She is so eager to learn about EVERYTHING - other cultures, people and ideas who are different from her - and so open to new experiences. One recent example of these attributes was that she decided to use a Sunday when she was off to go see a film about the Jewish expulsion from Spain in the 15th Century at our local Jewish Community Center. The fact that she heard about its being screened (which I hadn't!) was already something and that she took initiative to go so it, even more impressive but then she took it yet a step further: she heard that it was going to be screened near my parents in Florida and texted my mom to let her know in case she's interested!! I wouldn't have even known she did all that if my mom hadn't thought to tell me. Her inquisitiveness, initiative and generosity of spirit continuously amaze and astound me. It has been such a joy to watch her experience our country, community and family; her engagement and astute reflections have allowed me to experience them all with new eyes myself!