Auf Wiedersehen, Amanda

It’s that time again when we have to say goodbye. After living with us as our au pair for a year, Amanda is leaving us. Her family arrives tomorrow, and after a short visit exploring parts of Germany and France together, they will all return to the United States. Amanda will begin attending university in the fall.

It’s impossible for a teenager to fathom the amount of gratitude Martin and I feel when we think of all the things she’s done for our family, that she enabled our family to accomplish. Maybe she’ll understand one day, especially if she becomes a parent herself.

On paper, her duties involved childcare and providing help around the house. But if you look at my children, you’ll see that she provided a lot more. My kids are happy, secure, and well-adjusted because she helped keep us afloat during some pretty trying times.

I mean, she literally arrived within hours of Martin’s mother falling down our stairs. Ah, memories. It was the kick-off to a summer of chaos. I started a new job under stressful circumstances, and traveled a lot. Martin’s responsibilities at his own company expanded. We had a steady stream of visitors and family members staying with us. And of course, school. More work. More travel. Soccer. Karate. Music. Then the holidays. And then the new year. And of course, more school. More work. More travel. Junior in the hospital. My surgery and recovery. Lots of going, going, going. Family trips. Family drama. Family fun.

This photo tells you everything you need to know about our feelings for Amanda.

Through it all, Amanda provided consistency and kept a routine for the kids. Without fail, during the week, Junior knew Amanda was going to be there for him to share breakfast and watch some Peppa Pig. She made sure dinner was on the table and that the kids finished their homework and got to music, karate, and soccer. This meant that Martin and I could focus on just getting home and jumping into the fray.

Because of Amanda and Martin, I was able to break away from the kids and noise when needed, and complete my schoolwork in peace or go for a run around my village. There is no way I could have I finished my degree ahead of schedule, and dropped all that baby weight, without her.

During her time with us, Amanda traveled to the Netherlands, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland, and all over Germany. She attended two Fests, an Elton John concert, a chocolate festival, some Christmas markets, and visited so many museums. And I hope she’s enjoyed all the bread, and cheese, and schnitzel, and sausage, and local delights she won’t be able to find in the United States.

There are so many things we’re going to miss about Amanda. We are going to miss her random cookies. Snickerdoodles, mostly. Her potato soup always hit the spot, too. We’re going to miss her gentle nature and pragmatic approach to things. I loved having a brainiac around to influence the kids, especially Miss C. I know it meant a lot to Miss C to have a positive, mature role model and friend literally living right next door.

Even though it always tugs at the heart to say goodbye to someone we so admire, I’m just so damn grateful that for a whole year, my kids loved someone who adored them. I know they drove her nuts. I know we gave her enough fodder to write an impressive tell-all book if she so decided. But more times than not, I usually found all my kids cuddled up around Amanda.

That meant so much to me.

And so it goes. Amanda, no matter where life takes you on your journey, you will always have a place to land with us. You are family now. We love you, and we are going to miss you. Thank you for everything.