Posted by: The Saffa Mom | January 7, 2011

My mom wants to be an Au Pair!

Being a divorced mom can be very challenging. In fact, I think being a mom is challenging enough…… never mind the divorced bit.

I have found that over the year I have begun to rely on my mom more and more, especially where My Princess is concerned. I have been able to call my mom on a whim, and have My Princess spend the afternoon there (especially this last week).  I have been confident through the year that every Thursday my Mom will fetch My Princess from school, and get her to Ballet- on time. My Princess’s dad picks her up  from school every day, and drops her off at my office. (Yes it is convenient for me, but that is not his intention at all. Of course it is about seeing his baby girl.) Often, I am not at the office and still in a meeting or stuck in traffic trying to get back to the office- my mom is than my Superhero.

My mom, me, My Princess and My gran about two years ago.

Well, just when I thought I may have nothing to write about today, my mom declares yesterday (when I was fetching My Princess from her house), that in the next few months she is going to go and work overseas.


Okay so yes, my mom has had an awfully tough past year! (In fact ALL of us have. My dad left after 33 years, for a blondie, and her world (and our family) crumbled.)

My thoughts: BUT YOU CAN’T!  

My words: “What you going to go and do?”

“Be an au-pair!” BOLDY SAID WITH CONVICTION. SHE HAS MADE A CHOICE. Well, that was how it sounded.

My Thoughts: My mom was not a very motherly mom, although I love her dearly. We are now closer than we have ever been, but I am now turning 30. Much of our child hood was done with a slap and a dash, not really au pair material. BUT now I am enjoying having my mom around. Now I need her.  

So yes, selfishly, I am looking for all the reasons why this could not possibly be a good idea!

I perhaps have generalised as I am not entirely sure of the what the expectations that come with that role are,(being an AU Pair), however when I lived in London, one of my roommates was an Au Pair and I am working on “her” experience.   


My mom has ran a house for 33 years, a life time… well  at least more than mine. She has filled her pantry with things she likes, and things her family likes. She has cooked meals every single day that we have grown accustomed too. She adds chilli to everything, and never uses a recipe. It all works on taste. She does not bake. (Therefore I am not a baker!!) None of it would be healthy, and vegetables were always made separately in our home. (I try to do that differently and actually incorporate them into meals…. but I am far more health conscious than my mom ever was…. To her food was the language of love, and my father loved HIS food!)

Now, will SHE have to cook for a family of 5 again? Will she be able to make the meals that she has made over this life time? Will she be able to experiment like she does? Add a bit of this, and a bit of that? OR will she have to eat whatever they eat? What they cook? What if they CAN’T cook?

It will also be expected that she feeds the kids healthily during the day, it won’t necessarily be about taste. She will become responsible for their potential obesity!!! She will need to make them sandwiches. My mom never made sandwiches for our school break. That was our job, or we didn’t eat. I remember even spreading butter on white bread and piling spoons of sugar over it, closing it up and bragging to the kids at school that I had sugar sandwiches. Let me tell you that will never be acceptable. Food is regarded very differently to the way it was 25 years ago. Food can be evil!  


At all points remember this is not HER home, she is merely a guest. She is 53 this year, and currently lives in a three bedroom home, with a study, two lounges, and a huge garden. Her home is filled with HER stuff! The stuff she likes. If her slippers come off at the kitchen entrance and stay there for three weeks, they can. (Although, that doesn’t happen as she has a maid….. that will be another of my points.)

She will be downgraded to a room. Hopefully her own. Perhaps from a Queen sized mattress with single coils to a single piece of foam. Her duvet may move from Duck Down to… ..umm….. I can’t remember what the other fillings are made of! Her beautiful Head board, side tables and lamps with her ottomans, rugs and curtains will become a floral arrangement with a study desk lamp for reading. Will she have her own bathroom? Or will she have to share with an evil teenager who has just discovered make up and boys? I could just carry on forever! I like my space, I like my things, and I like the fact that it is all MINE. (And my mom does too.)


We all know what absolute “brats” are consuming this world.  (In fact, my home contains one potential monster!) BUT Our kids fall under our control, and as quickly as they roll their eyes is as quickly as they will get a clout! My Princess just has to hear the words “one, two”, and she starts changing her tune. Often the tears start and the apologies just flow. (Sounds like I am an evil child abuser, but that is not the case at all. In fact, it is not often that I actually do get to the actual point of smacking My Princess.)

My mom can’t do that with My Princess, although I have given her FULL permission. My Princess will push the boundaries further with her gran, she will probably roll her eyes more, and I imagine that she gets away with not saying “please”, and “thank you”.

What will my mom do with “potential monsters” who may have hated every au pair before! Or worse, they loved the last one so much that they immediately resent her for taking their place?

Can you discipline someone else’s child as you would your own? The only way you know how? I think that there would probably be much teaching in that area to keep mom and dad happy, and create kids that respect you.

When my mom has had enough of My Princess, she is relieved by the thought that she goes home. Eventually. There won’t be any relief there. Their home will be her home.


My Mom “sleeps-in” every morning! There is no rush. There is no routine that needs to be followed. She does as she wants, when she wants. (I want her life!)

Will those mornings start at 5 or 6? 3 or 4 hours earlier? Pulling hair, checking teeth and making school lunches. Routines revolving around a family and not herself?


Our homework was OUR homework! Our projects were ours! Our tests and exams were testing our studying capabilities. It was never my mom or my dad’s. I actually agree with that entire concept. The fact is that my mom and dad had forgotten everything that they learnt in school (just like I probably have), and would not have been able to work through long division with us. Who knows if Long division is even taught in schools these days with the advent of technology?

However, I don’t think that would be the case if you were fulfilling the role of an au-pair. In fact, I am positive that a large amount of her time will be looking at school text books, and brain storming. Those projects would be her projects! And that report card will reflect the amount of wisdom and intellect that she has placed into those darling little heads.

If that report card is below average- she will get the brunt. However if that report card is above average, the credit will not be moving in any direction that leads to her!

House Chores

Many are very blessed in South Africa to have a “house administrator” who comes at a very reasonable, and affordable price. Her main role is generally to pick up where you have left- everything! Our beds are made, our dishes are done, and our floors are disinfected.

When my maid went home for three weeks over Christmas, the first time I ironed something was two days before she came back. The floors got done every three days, and I doubt corners were really touched. Dirty clothes went into washing machines, without being checked for stains, and from there into the tumble dryer, without ever being hung on a line. (Normally she has strict instructions that MY stuff goes onto the line, I have had too many things that have shrunk in the dryer. I choose to believe that vs my butt getting bigger. My knight and My Princess are happy no matter what.) My “home manager” is very well appreciated.

So when my mom gets up at 9, and moves to the kitchen to make some breakfast, her bed is made and her room is tidied. Her toast crumbs are lifted and her tea cup is washed. Her cupboard is filled with her ironed clothes, and she knows that her bathroom is sanitised every single day.

Well, do I even have to go down that road and explain the drastic change that will become her life?

In fact, I would worry that perhaps she will be required to fulfil those “House administrator/ Maid” roles in her new “hotel”. I can see that she would not be” jumping for joy” at the thought of emptying out some man’s sweaty gym bag to find his socks that still need to be stretched out of the ball that they were in.    

Lastly her dog and US!!!!

I don’t need to explain this in detail. The fact is that none of us will be there, and she won’t be here! I will miss my mom and My Princess will miss her gran. She will miss her kids and her grand child. No special surprises- unplanned. No quick visits. No telephone calls daily.  

Right now, I am thinking that my mom should read this post? What do you think?



  1. Hello Bokkie, I love that your Mom is taking charge of her life after such a horrible past 12 months. How ironical that you need the back-up of an an au-pair and she is going to become one for someone else. I hear people say that everything happens for a reason (don’t you hate that saying sometimes) so Good Luck to you both!

  2. Why does she want to go?
    Simply a change of scenery?
    Does she need the money?
    You need to give us some background before we can jump in and support your case…

    • Perhaps i shoudl have put more detail in…… she claims that the money will be really good and that she will save it all, and bring it home. However, my mom is fine financially. Yes, she can be a scrooge, but really she is fine! (I mean, she has 4 properties on her name, all paid off……if she really was worried about money she could turn them into liquid form.)
      I think the main reason is much more than a change of scenery, rather a change of life. In her head the whispers and comments about my father and their divorce are all still pretty dominant. I really dont think she has thought this through. It is a case of greener grass!!!
      But i guess i need to let her do what she needs to do to find her happy ending! I am just being selfish.

  3. I love your writing! Very authentic, very much from the heart. Mytake on letting ypur mom read it? . . . YES — but only after you’ve spoken to her! I know writing is easier and more clear — but talk to her about your feelings using the words you’ve written, THEN have her read those same words as reiteration. Never miss an opportunity to talk, even if written follow-up is needed also!
    Still working on “my story”. Not yet ready for words. Good Luck. Sounds like you and your mom are close — support & help each other. 😉

    • Hi Richard, thanks for that! I realise that what you are saying is correct. I think sometimes we find putting something down onto a piece of paper far easier…… and you know, sometimes we all want to take the easy way out! Me and my mom have become close over the last year due to huge family trauma…… we never were. In fact, she was always everything i never wanted to be. Always a rainbow somewhere after a storm!
      Thanks again. Have an awesome day!!!

  4. What a great outlook you have! Mom’s and their daughters have such a special bond with each other anyways. Divorces are messy but, everything happens for a reason!

    • Ah thanks. I try! I didnt think the post was too optimistic.
      Anyway, I have been convinced to let my mom go out there and do what she needs to do to move through her healing process!
      Let’s see……
      I dont believe that everything happens for a reason, i believe that we make choices…. but I do believe that God takes all of the things that happens and uses them to make you a bigger, better, stronger person.
      So here is to bigger, bettre, stronger people….. if anything my mom will come back and fall in love with her grandchild all over again!

      • My friend, If you are going on a limb…writing about the possibility of your “mom” taking charge again–you are dealing with it. I see optimism in that even though your sarcasm and stress of voice and emotion shows thru quite clear. Trust me I can hear it clear over here!

        Hang in there, super mom…Richard and you are both correct. Life is about choices. BUT in choosing to look at your options dear, face reality…that’s hugely optimistic! Whatever will be of those choices, will happen. Bokkie, at least your dealing with it and not burying it under a rug somewhere! 😉

        You are a great and strong woman. Keep going my strong friend!

        • Actually you are so right!!!! The fact that I am dealing with it, is optimistic…. instead of trying to put it under a carpet and flip out at another stage!
          Thank you for your awesome compliment….. so motivated now!!!

  5. Interesting. I didn’t take the post as particularly optomistic, either. Heart-felt, a bit humorous, somewhat manic in spots 🙂 but not really optomistic.

    AND “everything happens for a reason”?!?! I guess so long as you include the decisions & choices people make (both good and bad) in the reasons column, . . .

    I like the idea of God using the full mix of life to make us bigger – stronger – better. If that’s the case, I may be on track to be a Super-Hero! 🙂

    Regarding choices. Free will still exists. It’s forgotten, dismissed, and discounted — but it has more to do with who we are (and where we are) than people want to admit, anymore.

    Happy Monday?! :-/

    • Happy Monday to you too Richard!! Thanks for the comments, you completely correct about freewill. We tend to like the idea of putting blame somewhere else. Easier.
      If you were a super hero- what would your name be?

      • My Super-Hero name?, . . . Hmmmmm . . . Oddly, I haven’t thought that through :-/ Let me give it some consideration. You just can’t give yourself a super-hero name without due consideration! Otherwise, you’d have to call yourself “Captain Willy-Nilly” or some other such rediculous thing. 😉

        • Well then you can be Captain Willy-Nilly until you come up with one! Haha. Still a super hero.
          My Princess is convinced that when she drinks Powerade (an energy drink- i think she has had it twice), she suddenly gets super powers. It is quite hilarious. She also believes (thanks to my little white lie) that when you become a mom- God gives you Super Powers, which means that I can see everything!

  6. She’s a grown woman 🙂 Although, I would have a conversation just to explain your feelings about it, which may or may not change her mind. I’d hate for it to become an aweful argument and she left with bad karma! Maybe she just needs a purpose in life again, to be grounded after all she’s endured? Would it be a year or so? Princess could write her letters, make it a joyful experience for all 🙂

    • I realise that i need to let her go, and i should probably not throw any pessisim into the pot! How many times have i been set on something in my life, and not considered a single thought from anyone else? Too many!
      Perhaps when she comes back I will let her read this- haha.
      I dont know at this stage how long, or when…. so lets just hang on and see.
      Thanks for your optimism.

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