At 19 years old, we thought Anita probably had little understanding of what she agreed to undertake when matching with a family of four boys. And she surely couldn't have imagined the amount of energy required to care for them all day. They are home-schooled boys, and we both work outside of the home full time. With four kids to manage, she rarely gets a break! To our delight, Anita arrived with everything a new mother would need to care for babies and children. She came equipped with a remedy for every malady, allergy, scrape or burn a child could get, and we realized in her first few weeks here, she not only knew what she was doing, she was prepared and ‘all in.’
Ranging from 2 to 11 years, our sons have no shortage of energy, or sibling rivalry. One wakes with the sun; two others love to sleep in. She gets all four of them up and fed together every morning. She's designated a kitchen helper for each mealtime. She drives them to and from their music school twice a week and swim practice early every morning in the summer. She ensures they practice their instruments and complete their homework. She oversees their daily chores, which brings me to laundry. The kids' clothes, sheets, towels, cloth diapers – I didn't even mention the diapering. She does a lot of laundry for the kids! And when the boys are doing their chores, she does not hesitate to jump in and help. Countless times she has vacuumed and mopped the floors, no matter how many times we tell her she doesn't have to. When the boys are in school on Friday's and our toddler is sleeping, she finds herself a little project like organizing their toys or cleaning out a hall closet.
But she's so much more than an au pair who cleans and orchestrates. She is one who cares and loves like only a family member could. Chores and homework aside, Anita takes time to play with the boys. From board games, to cards, to a backyard baseball or basketball matchup, she doesn't shy away from a little friendly competition. They've gone for bike rides and walks with the dog. She plays hide and seek and gives piggy-back rides to the two littlest ones. And they love her for it! She's cooked us German meals and taught the boys some German vocabulary. This year we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and Anita blessed us by spending the week at the grandparent's house and continued to watch the boys so we could enjoy a week away.
Anita is fully engaged with our boys, all the time. While she does have friends and a personal life outside of our family, when she doesn't have other plans, she's with us no matter what we are doing. She's joined us for trips to the movies, the mall, amusement parks, visits with extended family, skiing in the winter and hanging at the pool in the summer. But she doesn't limit her time with us to just the fun stuff! In her true serving fashion, she's lent a helping hand when we're cleaning out the vehicles, pruning shrubs and placing mulch around our home, raking leaves, and decorating for the holidays. Beyond being an amazing addition to our family, Anita is also a talented artist. She paints beautifully, makes gorgeous crafts, and captures wonderful pictures with her camera. She has used all of these skills to gift us the most thoughtful things we will forever cherish. Each of the boys have received a personal, original painting for their birthdays, and we both received the most kindhearted Mother's Day, Father's Day, and birthday gifts she made with the boys. We could expand on all the ways Anita has blessed our family every day. This little peek into the window of our lives cannot capture the full extent of what she means to us. Her dedication to helping us raise four boys, and the love and grace with which she provides, has made us into a better family. She will always be able to call our home hers, long after she returns to Germany next year.
The Stepanik Family from Maryland