I am a barrel of nerves today so much so that I’m struggling to gather my thoughts coherently not that I should be gathering anything other than the messes all over my house! But as with all messes I encounter: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional, I work through them via the written word. As the words are flying out of my head and onto this post, our lives are about to significantly change. Right now Ryan is headed to Nashville to pick up an au pair who will be living with our family for the next year.
Blessed but stressed has been our life motto for over three years now – ever since we made the decision to add an 8th child to our family. Some have raised questioning eyebrows with this decision, but we forged through, and we stand by the decision today as one of the best things we’ve done for our family, BUT we are tired and stretched about as thin as they come. Something about raising teenagers, and not sleeping because of a newborn, and then raising teenagers with a toddler who does finally sleep (PRAISE JESUS!) but never, ever, ever stops moving when she’s awake, and then there are the other kids in between the teens and the toddler and Luke, our gentle soul, but who requires so much more than most twelve year olds and still striving for our dream of a simple life (which in actuality isn’t always so simple) and my jobs at the college and writing and so many possibilities which have been whispered about with agents and supervisors and those in authority but no time or energy to pursue most of it.
About a year ago we decided something had to change. We actively pursued caretaker options in our area and came up short every single time. We then discussed hiring a full-time nanny, but that’s an expensive option, and we really aren't after full time help. We were then introduced to the au pair possibility. I signed up for an online database of names, information, and pictures of potential candidates. I scoured these pictures for two months and finally settled on a hand full of girls (kind of like online dating) I was willing to reach out to. Long story short, we chose a woman from Brazil who is warm, kind, and a ballet dance teacher (the girls are so excited!). We’ve written back and forth, skyped a few times, and I’ve laid out exactly who I am and the boundaries I’m going to need to make this work (and she agreed!); however, just having her imminent arrival hang over our heads has also increased our stress load as Ryan has spent almost every waking moment over the past two weeks getting her studio apartment finished in an old barn loft (it’s pretty cool - see the above picture).
We really feel like this is a positive move for our family as not only will she provide help, she will also provide a cultural experience that we all will benefit from. Ryan and I both have opportunities on our plates that we just need a little time for. We need an extra set of hands for Annabelle who is bursting with energy in every cell of her being. We need help for Luke when his aids don’t show up. We need an extra driver for the older kids who have sports and friends and activities that they want to be a part of. We need someone who is familiar with and willing to watch the kids overnight so Ryan and I can get away occasionally and reconnect. We just need a third parent right now, not someone to replace us, just someone to assist us, and Ryan wasn't willing to entertain the idea of a second wife ( kidding…).
This decision has not been made lightly as I’ve gone back and forth and back again about having another person so intimately tied to our lives, but we feel a peace about it, and at this point, there’s no turning back. Pray us through. Pray for her as this undoubtedly will be a huge culture shock in rural Tennessee. Pray for the kids and pray for me that I can let go of some of the control issues I tend to have and start to breathe again.
And now we wait. And pray. And embrace the experience with arms wide open. Just keep livin.