Ileana | Birthdays, Hot Sauce & Overcoming Challenges

by Au Pair in America au-pair

We last heard from Ileana as she was getting ready to leave Mexico to start her au pair adventure in NYC! Two months on and Ileana is back to tell us how she spent her first birthday away from home and how she dealt with the biggest challenge she’s had to face so far…


When I realize I’ve been in America for almost two months now, it feels like it’s been both an eternity and like I’ve only been here for a second. So much has happened since I last wrote to you all, not everything has been easy, but I’ve never liked it easy. I like to take things as they come and conquer the challenges I face.

From my last entry until today I have enjoyed some amazing times including a lovely day with my au pair friend Rebecca, we had dinner together and had such a great time. I also celebrated my first birthday away from home with gifts from my host family and one of my other friends who is also from Mexico took me to dinner at a great Mexican place. I met my other two teenagers, always helpful, funny and total hip hop lovers. I’ve also had the chance to walk the amazing streets of NYC. To wander around with no definite agenda, that’s how I made two friends in the East Village one Sunday and how I got lost on the subway… (It’s like a maze!) there’s always a story…. We become stories.

My story took a major turn a few weeks ago and I want to talk about it for a minute because when we experience something difficult, we might start doubting ourselves but really, we need to remember that we are smarter, stronger and more amazing than we give ourselves credit for.

A day after I made my first couple of non-au pair friends I got into a car accident. It had never happened to me before. So, I was by myself, in a different country and driving a car that wasn´t my own. I felt a whirlwind of emotions, I was scared, I was trying to stay calm, I was speaking English better than ever before, I was alert and functional and trying to work everything out. When I got home the only thing I could tell my host mom, other than how sorry I was, was that if this experience made her think she couldn’t trust me I definitely would understand. I was really worried but my host family have been amazing, they are so supportive and here we are, two weeks later and everything seems to be back to normal and working out really well. Last night my host kids practiced their Spanish with me and after finding a Mexican bakery in Brooklyn, I bought some Mexican hot sauce and I put it on popcorn for my kids. They LOVED it!

Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than its parts”, this means for me that I am capable of doing and giving so much as an au pair that having the car accident is just a little piece of my journey, a piece I’m aware and responsible for, a breakthrough piece in my relationship with my host family, a piece that made me doubt myself but also made me realize that I can stay calm and be strong in difficult situations. Maybe if I was still in Mexico I wouldn’t know this.

A friend of mine, a former au pair told me: “Everything that has never happened to you in Mexico will happen in America, I don’t know why, but that’s how it works”. Yes. Every day has a new lesson to be learned. I’m so grateful to be alive, that my children weren’t with me at that time, grateful that I was able to respond to the demands of the situation. My favourite actress, Evan Rachel Wood once said, “We love ourselves, remember? We don’t judge ourselves. We forgive ourselves, and then we take the next step toward the person we want to be”. I am not the perfect au pair but I will give everything I have to be the best au pair for my host kids. They are the most important thing and are my number one priority.

I wanted to share this part of my story with you in case, for any reason you are afraid of becoming an au pair, my message to you is, don’t be scared! You are stronger than you think and the experiences you will have as an au pair will enable you to grow as person. Let’s face the difficult times when they come and let them bring us new perspectives, new skills and enable us to make the best choices.

I end this post quoting Manhattan, Woody Allen’s masterpiece (this film is one of the reasons that I love New York so much), when Tracy and Isaac talk, at the end she tells him, “You have to have a little faith in people”, I’d say we have to have a little faith in ourselves.

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