Over the past few weeks you have read the trainee reflections about their time in Canada, and their time at our farm. Now it is time for me to try to capture what it feels like to be a host mom… First, I feel way too young to be a mom to our trainees – I would totally prefer to think of myself as a cool older sister. But, putting that aside…
Each year we open up our home to strangers and they become family. It isn’t an easy process… We don’t have a huge house so you can forget about privacy, and it takes a while to figure out how “on” you have to be all of the time. This pertains to superficial things, like when everyone wakes up in the middle of the night because of a huge thunderstorm, is it okay to be seen wearing PJs? But it also pertains to heavier things, like conversations about budget, work or family. We are constantly negotiating how much of this conversation happens in front of trainees and how much is just husband/wife…, which goes back to privacy, and finding the time for those more private conversations.
Having trainees in our home every year also influences how we raise our girls. They have totally different expectations with regard to attachments, brothers and what it means to be a family. It is always fun to see the reaction when they explain to people that they got a new brother yesterday! And the girls are still negotiating what it means for brothers to arrive and leave – this year we had two brother Michaels for a time and that was entertaining. About a day after Andre left this year our oldest asked, “When do we get more brothers?” Whew… I need a bit more of a break than that!
Our trainees are much more than simply employees. I like to think that we teach them more than just about Canadian living or life on the farm. Some have never been away from home before – never done their own laundry or realized you have to make an effort in long-distance relationships if you want to stay in them. Some have picked up a few new favorite recipes and cooking tips along the way, not to mention learning about child development, hair extensions and work-life balance. I am sure that they get more “sage wisdom” from me than they ever bargained for, or perhaps wanted! Being a mom of five is hard work! When November rolls around, I am ready for a break. And ready to have leftovers in the fridge!
Living with trainees has been a seven-year adjustment for me. It is different every year. The trainees who lived with us when I was pregnant had a very different experience than those pre-kids and those this year where the girls are more independent. And, our trainees next year will have another different experience as they meet each other, and our ever-changing family. Even though we have a few months as a family of four, we are already in the process of getting trainee placements for next year – April is just around the corner.
Thanks to International Rural Exchange for helping us find great trainees every year.
Feel free to leave a comment! Tag your host or trainee.