I think I had better explain what has been going on! As you know, I left the institute, did an Italian course and then…I went a bit quiet on you. Well, I was actually organising a job as an au-pair with a Catholic family in Rome. Not what I had set out to do but…I wanted to stay in Rome, and it would be with a Catholic family. Added to that, although I’d be speaking English with the children, I’d be around Italians which would be good for my Italian. Unfortunately, in the end, they were more unsure about whether they were going to take an au pair than I had previously thought. They are not a rich family (which is fine, of course. I’m not from a rich family at all and I feel far more comfortable around people who are from a modest background), and they wanted to be sure that an au pair was for them. Ok, fine, but you need to decide this before you put out your advertisement. Just before I was due to start the trial week with them, I got a big shock when the father of the family told me that they would not let me know if I had got the job until the last day or even when I was back in Wales for Christmas. Previously, we had agreed that I would a sign a contract with them at the end of the trial week and that it was pretty much done and dusted (I had already met them and looked after the children a couple of times, which is a lot more than most families get with their au pair before they start work). The trial was just to see if we really didn’t get on.
Now, I have a lot of luggage. I was, and am, living off my parents, so I need to plan in advance if I am going to take back all my luggage or else it would cost a lot of money. If they were not going to take me on, I need to know at least a week in advance. I can’t hang around until the last minute to know these things and I did not know he was so unsure about it all. His wife liked me and she was sure she wanted me to stay with them, but he was very cautious and of course these serious decisions have to be made as a couple. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing – one of the things that attracted me to them as a family was the fact that they wanted me to meet and to look after the children on a trial basis beforehand. I think that is great! You shouldn’t trust your children with a stranger. But, the relationship an au pair has with a family is a very delicate and personal one and you just have to give more notice than that. I can’t wait around until so late in the day and I need security. I know it seems like I run away from things, I say this to myself too, but honestly, I ignored the alarm bells once with my previous job and that was not a mistake I was going to make again. So, I went to tell them that I felt I should break off the agreement now while I still had time and it was a really difficult thing to do. I especially liked the wife – she’s very warm, friendly and obviously loves her children very much. Most of all, she really needed help. But, I had to consider that her husband was not exactly being fair with me. There were other things he wanted, like for me to move out for the last 3 or 4 days of the week so that they could decide without me there. They didn’t tell me this before and it is difficult to lug around 40+ kilos of luggage, you know! He also wanted me to come a day earlier but I was not invited to the family lunch on that day, so I’d have to make myself absent that day too. If you want me to be a big sister to your children, you’ve got to treat me like a daughter and you wouldn’t do that to your daughter. I had to make a decision and see if they could adapt to me being there. It’s a big risk on both sides and I was starting to see that perhaps, as lovely a family as they are, not all of them understood the way things have to work. It is a risk for me too and I have to think of the financial cost it might be to my parents if it all went belly up.
Anyway, that was towards the end of my stay in Rome, about a week and a half before I got my flight to come home for Christmas (which I had always planned to do and I had booked my ticket a while ago). Before I left, I was having a bit of a panic about what I was going to do. Was I going to come back to Rome? What would I do? I love Rome. I feel so at home and everything is so beautiful – it’s a real feast for the eyes! But, I knew I had to have a plan. As fun as it is to mooch around, eating out, drinking, socialising and attending mass most days, you can’t do this forever! So, I was thinking about doing some studies in bio-ethics. The problem is…I don’t have the money to pay for that right now. The other problem is…the programmes I have looked at are 2-3 years. Preferably, I’d do something that lasts a year because 2 or 3 years is just too long to spend out of the pro-life movement! I’ve only been home for 5 days, but already I see that, as much as I’d love to live in Rome, when I go back, it has to be something short-term. I’d love to live in Italy for 3 or 4 years (with regular visits to the UK, of course!), but there is too much work to do here in the UK and particularly in Wales. Firstly, my parents really need help with a campaign they are doing to oppose presumed consent for Organ Donation (see the SPUC website for more details). Secondly, I have become a big big fan of Traditional Latin Mass and it is almost non-existent in my neck of the woods. Thirdly, there is no young Catholic movement in Wales. This is depressing and a terrible state of affairs. I can’t let young people in Wales grow up with nobody to share their faith like I did, because, although I did eventually come back to the faith, it was a long and horribly bumpy road. Fourthly and most importantly… the pro-life movement. Where to begin on the mess that is our pro-death culture? There are a few very brave people who are fighting the good fight here but they can’t do it on their own. I cannot be so selfish as to stay away, indulging myself in Rome while they do the hard work here. I just can’t do it. Today, my Mum and Dad told me about a Muslim doctor they know who says that he has to sign documents for abortions because otherwise he’d lose his job. A friend and I were discussing yesterday how few things move us to tears now (concerning pro-life issues) because we feel like we’ve seen and heard all the worst possible things, but I had to cry at that. Muslims are supposed to be conservative, strict and unyielding and yet, here’s this man, signing for abortions. He is the equivalent of the workers in the death camps, locking Jews in the gas chambers. He doesn’t want to do it, but feels he has no choice. I’m not excusing him – what he has done is wrong and I feel very angry about it because sacrificing one’s job for a child’s life should be common sense, but it shows me how willing pro-lifers are needed to support doctors who do not want to take part in the slaughter of the unborn.
I’ve had a lovely time living in Rome, but I know that in Rome, my prime occupation would be enjoying myself. I know I’m needed here and that is the important thing! I still have to go back to collect yet more luggage that I left in the parish church (travelling light is not my forte), but that may be my last trip for a while! I have loved every moment of my Italian experience 🙂