At InterExchange Au Pair USA, we're celebrating our 25th anniversary this year with Memories That Mean the World. What's a Memory That Means the World? For us, it's the type of memory that only happens through cultural exchange, when young au pairs from around the world make unforgettable connections with welcoming U.S. host families.
This month's Memory That Means the World comes from Marika, from Poland, and her host family, the Clarks.
"The first best decision in my life was to decide to move to the U.S. as an au pair. The second best decision in my life was to choose my host family," said Marika. "Selecting a host family is almost like dating. Either you feel the chemistry or you don't. From the first conversation with the Clark family, I felt that this was my perfect match."
That feeling was mutual.
"The best decision Kevin and I made during my pregnancy with twins was to bring an au pair into our home to help care for the twins once they were born," said Lori Clark. "The next best decision we made was to choose Marika to be that very special au pair to join our family."
Marika's arrival at the airport produced an immediate, lasting memory, aided by Jackson, the family's oldest child.
"July 12th – the big day. I was so excited and couldn't wait to meet my family," said Marika. "They greeted me very warmly. They had been waiting at the airport with a big, beautiful sign – "WELCOME MARIKA" – made by Jackson."
Pregnant with twins, Lori was grateful to have Marika in the home before the arrival of two more boys.
"I wasn't sleeping very well the last few months of my pregnancy and was very tired, needing to nap each day. I also couldn't carry anything over a certain weight," said Lori. "Marika was a major help to me at the end of the pregnancy dealing with issues such as these. Also, Jackson (our five-year-old son) spent most of his days with Marika prior to the twins being born, and he really grew to love her. This became critical as Marika became his full-time care giver when I was in the hospital recovering from both a natural birth AND a C-Section for 4½ days.
"Upon returning home from the hospital, Marika became my legs, my arms, a sounding board and a good friend. Because of the C-Section, I had a number of physical limits placed on me. … Imagine not being able to carry your own child in a car seat … It's a helpless feeling. Marika assisted me with tasks like this without making me feel as if I couldn't take care of my own children."
Marika stepped up in a big way to help make the birth of the twins a Memory That Means the World rather than a stressful experience better off forgotten.
"After delivery Lori was very weak. I felt sorry when Lori suffered," said Marika. "I took care of Jackson while (my host father) Kevin helped Lori in the hospital. Jackson and I visited Lori in the hospital every day. I also switched with Kevin so that he could go home and relax for a while. We were a true family."
Want to read about more Memories That Mean the World? Read our previous posts:
- "Memories That Mean the World: Huge Hugs From a Special Five-Year-Old"
- "Memories That Mean the World: 'Welcome Home, Mayumi!"
- "Memories That Mean the World: A Royal Welcome"
- "Memories That Mean the World: Local Celebrities"
- "Memories That Mean the World: An Unexpected Connection"