Okay so she wasn’t quite my stepmother, but she was my Gastmutter, as referred to in Germany. And she was a bully. Hence the huge gap between now and my last post.
I know there are numerous horror Au pair stories, and I know I had several alarm bells ringing from the very beginning of my correspondence with my Au pair family, but I was determined to make it work. And that I did, until a few weeks ago…
Firstly I’d like to mention that it took me quite a while to come to terms with what had happened. It was all very shocking, terrifying, confusing, and overall upsetting. I hope to never experience anything like it again. I’ve only told a few people of what went down, being very fragile and hurt at the time, I wasn’t ready to talk about it. But I’ve kept all my friends back home in the dark for too long and I haven’t told all my friends here exactly what took place. So now it’s time to reveal all… *insert dramatic music*
Things had continued to be chaotic and complicated with my Au pair family since my last blog post, despite believing that things were getting better. To keep it to the point, I’ll just outline the one week that threw me over the edge. Also, keep in mind that although my host mom is a single mom, she doesn’t work. Brace yourselves for a pretty lengthy post (Oops I did it again – sorry!)
On the Monday, I had to wake up at 7:00 as usual to make the fruit salad breakfast for everyone and make sure C got dressed, had something to eat and had her bags ready for school on time. M and X stayed in bed. M said C could get a lift with the neighbours.
That day we had absolutely no food in the house. On these occasions I usually bake bread. However M said that she would go to the store that night and buy something to eat for dinner. I stayed at home with C to help her with her homework while we waited for M to return. One hour later M returned and announced that C had to go to bed, because it was 19.30. C protested, saying she hadn’t eaten anything yet. M then told us how she had attended a martial arts class and demonstrated some of the moves she had learned. It’s safe to say she had taken the class instead of getting us something to eat for dinner.
Later on when C was in bed, M went out for the night.
On Tuesday I woke up at 7:00 and repeated the morning’s routine all by myself again while M and X stayed in bed. M never clarified whether she or the neighbours would take C to school. So once C was ready, she went and called her mom to wake up. M was very annoyed at this, claiming that because of the full moon she couldn’t sleep well. I have other suspicions. C had to ride with the neighbours anyway, because M’s brakes on her car weren’t working. M went back to bed and I cycled to my German class. During class I messaged M to see if I should do some shopping, or if she had now done it. See never replied.
When I returned home four hours later, M asked me to visit the Oma as she was very upset for whatever reason. So I wheeled the Oma to the Christmas markets and on the way back to the old age home she was very difficult. She was crying, grumpy and overall dissatisfied with everything. I eventually managed to leave and cycled back to M’s. As soon as I opened the front door, M handed me the leash and asked me to walk the dog, “Seeing as I already had my jacket on.” So I took the dog for a walk and when I returned, M announced she was driving to a town (40 minutes away) with X where she could get her brakes fixed. It was 15:00. She said that due to the traffic she would only be back after 20:00 when C would be in bed. How convenient. She then asked if I could go do the shopping. I was so tired from my intensive German course, handling the Oma and walking the dog all one after the other that I said no. Plus I had already asked if I should go after class, but of course she never replied. I asked if it wasn’t possible for her to do it, and she said she probably wouldn’t have the time. I’m not sure how this is possible but whatever. During her absence, I cooked for C and I and watched a movie with her while I cracked open all the walnuts for breakfast. C then grew very quiet towards bedtime and said she wanted to phone her mom. She took the call upstairs and was soon in tears, begging her mom to come home. I went upstairs, feeling very anxious for her. I had no idea what I should do. C grew very angry with her mom, demanding that she come home immediately, her cries becoming louder. I heard M asked C to give the phone to me, but she refused to. So M called my mobile and said that C was very angry with her, but she would not be able to come home until much later on. I was quite annoyed with M and remained quite blunt with her. I then went into C’s room. She immediately hid under her bunk bed and tried to hide her tears. I followed her under the bed anyways, knowing that I couldn’t just leave her so distraught. I pulled her into me and comforted her. She was very reluctant at first, but soon gave in. She told me that she was cross with her mom, and I agreed with her, saying that it annoyed me when M says she will be home at a one time, and then comes home much later. To this C replied,”Weißt du T, das macht sie immer.” (You know T, she always does that.) This really broke my heart. C also told me that according to her mom, she couldn’t come home right then because she had drunk some alcohol. So after a bit of chatting and cuddling, we made bracelets together to cheer her up. To my surprise, C made a bracelet for her mom and wrote a note for her telling her that she loved her and stuck it on her door. A daughter’s love for her mother seems to be unaffected, no matter what.
On Wednesday I struggled to get out of bed so early. (Remember the winter is a bit extreme here – the sun doesn’t wake up itself until 8:00.) M and X remained in bed while I made everyone breakfast (now including an extra serving for the Oma as requested) and got C’s lunch and bags ready for school before she drove with the neighbours. While I was getting ready for my German class, M informed me that she would be away all day seeing family of hers and that she would probably only be back once C was in bed. So I asked for some money so I could get some groceries for C and I.
During class I could barely concentrate I was so exhausted. I thought I might cry I was so tired. Once it ended at 12:30 I cycled as fast as I could to buy something to cook for lunch. I arrived home just before C usually gets home from school. Once we’d finished eating, C asked if she could go play with a friend, but M had told me her piano lesson would be during the afternoon that day. After a few calls, M said that C could go play with her friend and that the piano teacher wouldn’t come after all. However upon returning to the house after walking the dog, I found the teacher waiting outside. He asked where C was, and I explained the situation. He told me that he had never cancelled the lesson, and I explained that according to M he had. He then phoned the number that C had given me should I need to reach her, and I had given her mine. After talking with the friend’s mother and with C, C came back home and took her lesson before returning back to her friend. The teacher then asked if he could have my number to use in the future, seeing as M’s disorganisation is rather difficult to work with. Later that evening I cooked dinner for C and I, and M returned once we had already eaten. Like the rest of the week, M went out somewhere for the night and I had to be on the lookout for C in case she woke up calling for her mother.
Thursday was the last straw.
The morning went how it had all week, with me waking up early to make breakfast and to sort C out while the others slept in. I zoned out of class so many times that day it’s amazing I could even participate. During the class, M suddenly came into the room asking me for the house key, as she had lost hers. She didn’t properly excuse herself and came in walking like a mad person, covered head to toe in paint-stained clothes, her hair all over the place. I was super embarrassed and everyone stared at her in shock.
When I got home she told me how sorry she was for me, to have to sit in that room full of stinky, ugly refugees. Literally, that’s what she said. *insert shock and horror vibes* According to her, my classroom stank because of my fellow classmates. What’s more, according to her, I couldn’t possibly be learning good German because my teacher didn’t look like she was a German. I was so insulted. I have huge respect for my German teachers and have made good friends with the people in my German course. I kept trying to explain this to her, but she was so stubborn, she was almost angry at me for disagreeing with her. She just kept pushing her point until I was almost in tears I was so frustrated and upset with her. I nearly quit right then and there.
However I kept myself calm and went with her to help with C’s harp concert. At the last minute M decided that the dog had to come with. I asked her if the dog would be allowed inside (from experience the silly dog isn’t allowed in anywhere because she barks at everyone all. the. time.) but M simply ignored me. We then went to fetch the Oma in a very chaotic, messy fashion as we were running late (no surprise there). With the Oma and her chair crammed into the car, C to my right, the harp to my left, and the dog on my lap, we drove off to who-knows-where where the concert would take place.
Soon after the concert commenced, the dog began to bark, causing every head to turn towards me. M then ran over to me, asking me to walk with the dog outside. Of course she hadn’t thought this through. Either that or she just expected me to handle it. It was bloody freezing (for an Aussie 0° isn’t warm!), and having assumed that I would be staying indoors, I did not have a warm jacket with me. Nevertheless, I spent about 30 minutes walking in the cold while the stupid dog continued to yap the entire time. I tried to go back inside several times to warm up but the dog was so loud I had to keep taking her back outside. With everything from the past week building up, the situation with my Au pair mother becoming more and more unpleasant, and my fight against crying growing weaker, I finally broke down. As we were in the middle of nowhere the signal was terrible, but I finally managed to contact my prince (oooh so cheesy 😱). I told him everything, allowing myself to really cry, and he provided me with some great support and advice.
After our phone call I returned to the concert, which by now was over. I was expecting to go inside and sit with the others for a while before helping them all get ready to go home. C had performed with a friend of hers. Her friend’s mother was the one who told me, quite shocked herself, that M had texted her to say that she had left for a dentist appointment. She had no idea when M would be back, but she herself also had to leave. According to M, I was there to help set up things for the concert and to then sit with them all to have tea and cake. It sounded easy enough. But I had just had one of the shittiest weeks, had a terrible day, had spent 30 minutes freezing my ass off with the most annoying dog and now she had spontaneously left for a dentist appointment without informing me or asking me how I felt about taking care of this most annoying dog, her child, and of course dealing with the Oma who constantly asks where M is.
In a room full of strangers, bar C, the dog and the Oma, I phoned M. C had asked if she could go home as she had a lot of homework to do, the dog was yapping non-stop and I wasn’t too keen on staying there either with so much chaos to deal with. It was 15:30 when I called to ask M when she would be back. M said she would be there at the latest at 19:30.
I went outside and called my prince (#cheeseballs) again, needing to speak to someone sane in proper English about what the frick was going on. After further support and advice, I came to the conclusion that enough was enough. I was going to quit.
It was the first time I had ever expressed any kind of frustration with M “face-to-face” so to speak. I got pretty angry, telling her over the phone that it was not okay to leave me there with so much responsibility without discussing it with me first, and to just leave us all there without telling us where she was or when she would be back. As my employer it’s super unprofessional, but as a mother it’s just plain weird.I seriously question her sanity sometimes.
After getting a lift home with a stranger, negotiating everything in German, and figuring out on Maps how to get there, I made C and I some dinner. C expressed her annoyance at her mother and I agreed. I opened up to her a little more than I had before, telling her it was just too much for me, and that I would have to leave. She was of course upset about that, and asked me several questions like why, and what was wrong. I did my best to explain things to her and she accepted it all pretty well. Later we ate some cupcakes that I made for her and I, whilst watching Cinderella, ironically ^^.
When M came home she was all cheerful and happy, asking how we were. C and I were both annoyed with her. I said I was fine, but C protested, saying quite crossly that things weren’t fine and that things were too much for me. M simply laughed at this, and I didn’t know if I was ready to tell her what I was thinking. So I said I wanted to talk to her in the morning. She immediately asked if I wanted to leave. I was shocked. So I said yes. She then replied, “Fine, no problem.”
She then immediately started looking for other Au pairs online. C asked if I was quitting and M hushed her. C then claimed that she would then have to wait outside the front of the door again when she comes home from school… M told her that was nonsense but I can easily believe it to be true.
While C and I were eating our coconut cupcakes together and watching Cinderella, M said she would go to my German school and deregister me herself, and that she wouldn’t forget to do it either. *insert super creepy stepmother vibes here* I casually said she could if she wanted to, but ultimately it’s my responsibility to do that. She then randomly started to bake coconut biscuits and asked me if I had put sugar in my coconut cupcakes. (I had actually made the cupcakes for a Christmas dinner I was invited to and made a few extra so that C could have some). When I said that yes there was sugar in them, she said, “You know I don’t allow this”, quite threateningly. It was like she was competing with me…because she had now made a similar bake to mine, minus the sugar.
Naturally M went out again that night and I put C to bed. While we were brushing our teeth together, she kept staring at me through the bathroom mirror. The look she had in her eyes still breaks my heart… It’s hard to explain, but it was a mix between uncertainty and sadness. I never got to say goodbye to her.
I thought that would be the worst of it. But I was wrong. *Dum dum dum dummmmm* I phoned my mom on the weekend and decided to take her advice and not return to Au pair for the family the following week. Our contract states that I should give at least two weeks’ notice before I quit the contract. However, as my mom was seriously concerned about my being there any longer, I looked through the contract again and found out that I was entitled to quit the contract with immediate effect should the circumstances be so bad as to deem it necessary. I was so relieved to know this that I phoned M that same weekend to tell her that I would not be returning. She seemed to be happy about it, claiming that it would be weird if I came back after already stating that I wanted to quit. I was relieved to hear this, but just in case she would have been difficult and had tried to make me stay longer, I had also sent her an email explaining why I was quitting. I wanted her to see where things went wrong, to understand the issues I was experiencing, and I wanted to back myself up for why I was entitled to quit immediately. This was probably the biggest mistake. She did not take what I had to say at all well. From that moment on she did everything she could to make my life a living nightmare….
…. to be continued…