Healing time and lessons from being a Grown-ups’ Nanny

Or how second chances should always be taken…

There I was, the winter of 2009, escaping for six months from what had been my regular life, belongings stored here and there…. In August of 2008, Mom died; in March of 2009 one of my much-loved Uncles died; in April Dad died; in June a dear friend died. With all that loss, nothing I had been doing seemed to hold much value. It was time to think life through and assess what was to come next.

I thought about explaining the other convolutions that led up to the decision to leave Pittsburgh, but sometimes the circumstances that lead us to make certain choices aren’t as interesting as the outcomes from those decisions.

Jackie and her husband offered me their haven in Montana for the winter. Take the time to finish two chick lit novels I’d been working on; take time to laugh with them, their kids and spouses; take time to get to know their crazy dogs, Lizzie and Gus.

Orange and yellow sunrise in broad Montana sky

Sunrise in broad Montana sky

I learned many valuable things that made this new version of a regular life better than ever:

  • The fun of a road trip from PA to MT with my brother. I’d do it again anytime.
  • How great my relationship is with Jackie—especially compared to when we lived in the same house as teenagers. Ouch to monumental battles. Why didn’t our parents send us to military school? Separate military schools.
  • Airedales are crazy and fun to live with. I want one.
  • How to cook for three people—including meat and poultry that I haven’t eaten in twenty years.
  • That I could participate in a Bible study and what that meant to my growing faith. Making friends I miss.
  • Horses eat a lot. I tend not to ride them anymore due to an abundance of stitches I’ve had from past attempts.
  • How to cross country ski. Again. I learn this lesson every time I put on my skis.
  • The joy in caring about, on a daily basis, someone else’s needs besides my own.
  • That it’s possible to make a killer latte without a fancy machine.
  • How to discipline myself to write daily—a habit which has continued.
Cross country skiing in Montana

Learning to ski. Again.

The list could go on but what I want to convey is that being the Adult-Nanny was what I needed and more than what I thought it would be when I set off on the adventure.

I learned that caring and supporting someone who is out in the world working could be rewarding and enlightening. Jackie usually works three days a week—sometimes four, sometimes five, on those days I would have supper ready when she came home. A nanny supports the person who is out in the world earning the money to keep the nanny supplied with what s/he needs to run the house. The nanny has many self-jobs—in my case it was pursuing my writing.

I purged, I wrote, I purged, I wrote.

Are the two books ready for a publisher yet? No, but they took the most solid form they have had in the ten years since I started them. When I need a break from Cosmic Cold Cases of Pittsburgh, I pull out KT and Dia and attack them again, their stories taking on greater depth, rounding out. I have coffee with them and they tell me their stories—with conviction and deep passion.

The book and the movie version of Under The Tuscan Sun are very different. Yet they each tell a moving story of shaking up your life, of not settling for status quo, of taking the road untaken. Was my move financially sound? Nope. I had saved enough money for vacations that I compiled that into one account and gave myself a budget to live on. Was it logistically logical? Nope again. Pittsburgh to Red Lodge, Montana (that road trip with Brother is another blog), stuff stored willy nilly with friends and family. Excess stuff given away. Did my decision save my soul? Oh, you betcha.

Distance made the hearts grow fonder and when I returned to Pittsburgh it was a road trip east with Alex. Who knew he’d miss me when I left? I sure didn’t. More healing, more purging, the agony of an extended job search, the joy of the people I met along that search, the fun of now working with one of them. Life twists and turns and God fulfills the questions in His funny, delightful, soul-provoking ways. Our job is to keep moving forward, to listen, to dive in when the answers present themselves and most importantly: to never ever be immobilized by fear.


Read: Defender of The Siblings aka DOTS