But, as the old saying goes, the only constant thing in life is change. So we knew that new arrangements would have to be made as Aline started to feel the additional stress of our third child and the ever increasing schlepping needs of the older two. Robin was going off to another phase in her life after the University.
Without agencies that helped find household help, I was set adrift. First the local Bees—Tonawanda, Amherst, Cheektowaga. Mistake #1. Gave phone number for response. Lots of calls, but mostly teens looking for a babysitting job. Never mind the first line—“full time/live in five days/week.”
Next strategy: advertisement in both The Buffalo News and the Bees. This time we asked for a letter of interest and a resume sent to a post-office box. We received dozens of responses, many still inappropriate, but a few worthwhile. Less stressful than my previous experience.
I did the calling and screened several on the phone. A few we interviewed in person. I was getting discouraged. We went back over the pile. We thought of running additional ads. Time was getting short. I was getting anxious.
When we first saw Sonia’s letter and resume, I was unsure. Her work history and trajectory seemed odd. But Saul reminded me there was no harm in having an interview. She had been a factory worker, midnight shift, for most of her recent working life. The factory closed and when she was laid off, she took advantage of a government re-training program. She got her associate’s degree in food management and child care. As we later found out, having raised 5 kids herself, she could have taught the courses in how to raise healthy, productive kids, run a busy household and cook up a kosher storm.
At our first meeting, Sonia was very nervous. She really wanted and needed a job. I was still unsure. But Saul thought she would be good and said we should give her a chance. He saw the spark of someone special that was hidden from me by my own worries. After all, I was in charge of the training and overseeing the household chores. Teaching about keeping a kosher kitchen and a Jewish home is always challenging. (BTW, if you are worried about an unequal balance in our division of labor, don’t. Saul has responsibility for all the maintenance, planning of travel, worrying about everything big and small and other things I don’t do too well.)
The kids also liked her from the start. Kind and thoughtful, Sonia has the uncanny ability to remember everyone’s little idiosyncrasies. And generous in spirit, she usually overlooks each one’s annoying quirks.
She made my job easy. Readily taking suggestions and diplomatically making suggestions (often to forestall calamities in the making) were no problem. My comfort level rose quickly.
Sonia became part of our family 19 years ago. She just celebrated her 70th birthday with her family and her friends and with us. She wants to work for as long as we will have her. And that will be for as long as she wants to be part of our family. The kids are now all grown, but still they call and talk to Sonia even when (or because?) they know she is always around; she is also a great, non-judgmental listener.
Everyone who meets Sonia loves Sonia. Especially me and my family who are so lucky to have such a wonderful family care giver in our lives. Forever.