I don't even know what words could even begin to describe how amazing our au pair, Misuzu is. In fact, bringing Misuzu into our family was one of the best decisions we made this past year. Our Japanese au pair Misuzu joined our family in February 2019, when our daughter was only six months old and our son was two years old. Even before Misuzu came to live with us, she demonstrated how much she already cared for our children by the thoughtful questions she asked about their personalities, likes and dislikes, and food preferences. She even brought the kids educational toys, puppets, and delicious Japanese snacks all the way from Japan so that she could connect with them more easily when she arrived.
Misuzu amazes us time and time again with her kindness, generosity, and ability to multitask. Despite last-minute changes we sometimes need to make to her schedule as a result of work conflicts or other reasons, Misuzu has never once complained or hesitated to shift around her personal plans around to accommodate our childcare needs. On her own accord, she will even sometimes suggest she work an evening here and there just so my husband and I can go on a date night!
This is just the kind and thoughtful type of person that she is.
From day one, Misuzu quickly learned our children's routines and never hesitated to ask us clarifying questions if she was ever confused or uncertain about something. For instance, during Misuzu's first week at our home in New Jersey, our daughter developed an allergic reaction to egg whites and developed a rash all over her face. Misuzu immediately took action to text me and my husband photos of her face which enabled us to call her pediatrician promptly and get our daughter treated right away. Such quick thinking and good judgment during such a serious situation gave us the reassurance that we needed to know that our daughter was in good hands.
Misuzu has a very loving and nurturing personality and always puts the needs of our children first. For example, she has spent countless hours rocking our fussy infant daughter to sleep and holding her until the point her arms grew numb and back ached. She did this for days on end until my daughter was fully sleep-trained just so my daughter would get the quality sleep she needed. Misuzu also has a way with winning over our sometimes extremely difficult three-year-old through her patient and sweet and loving personality. Moreover, Misuzu knows when to set boundaries for the children and always encourages them to use their manners and clean up their messes.
Because of Misuzu's positive influence over our children's lives, our children are absolutely thriving and it is already clear how much of an impact she has made on them this year alone.
Misuzu has also been an absolute rockstar during this unexpected pandemic. Instead, Misuzu has made the best of the situation and rose to the occasion. With a smile on her face and an upbeat attitude, Misuzu was a miracle worker when it came to keeping the kids engaged and their minds stimulated every single day. She would plan the most creative activities and crafts for the kids and also found fun ways to incorporate the children in the kitchen so she wouldn't have to interrupt my husband and I while we were working from home. For example, she suggested we buy a learning ladder for the kitchen so that the kids could climb in and "help" her cook lunch everyday, which they absolutely love. Even after a long day of work, she will always go above and beyond to help us clean up in the kitchen after dinner before going to her room for the night. This is just the type of sweet and considerate person that she is.
The cultural exchange aspect of the au pair program has been so special for our family. We are thankful that Misuzu has been so open about sharing her culture with us. It has been fascinating to learn about ways that Japanese culture differs from U.S. culture. We have had many interesting conversations about the way politics differ in the U.S. versus Japan, the different ways holidays are celebrated and insight into how Japan as a country has been navigating the pandemic. Misuzu has even taken it upon herself to learn Korean, one of the languages spoken in our household so that she could connect with the children at an even deeper level. Additionally, Misuzu has also introduced us to many amazing Japanese cuisines, movies and her love for Japanese pop music.
Apart from the effort she puts into spending time with our family, we are also proud of the effort Misuzu puts into making new friends with the au pair community around her. She is very intentional about making time to reach out to new au pair arrivals and making others feel welcome. Despite the pandemic, she truly is making the most out of her time here and not letting a wasted moment go by.
In addition to being a hard worker and helping our home run smoothly, she loves our children as if they were her own.
She gets just as excited as any parent would watching our children grow up and witnessing pivotal milestones in their lives, such as my daughter's first steps and word and my son's first successful potty training moments. She eats dinner with our family regularly and celebrates each holiday and birthday with us. We have also bonded over Friday movie nights and taking family trips to Montauk and the Poconos. For birthdays and special holidays such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, Misuzu has made some of the most special handmade presents for us by incorporating the kids' photos or handprints and writing the sweetest cards. Every time she does something like this, her thoughtfulness and creativity never ceases to blow us away.
Misuzu has indisputably become a part of our family and has been the very best gift we could of ever asked for this past year. Although we initially were only planning on having an au pair stay with us we have even decided to extend her stay with us because we love her so much. We can't think of anyone more deserving of being awarded the honor of ultimate au pair of the year!