Once upon a time I was a trucker.
Yeah, me either.
I was the most fabulous trucker in all the land. I sparkled down the freeway, y’all!
I kind of just fell into driving a truck the same way I fell into the relationship with the man that convinced me to drive in the first place. I was motivated by money.
Security. Things. Stuff. Travel.
Money. Green Happiness.
Over the following 9 years we made a lot of it. I bought what I wanted when I wanted it. We vacationed. We cruised. We ate $200 steak dinners on a random Thursday night just because. We moved to the most prestigious neighborhood in Atlanta positioned right between my favorite malls so I could spend more of that green happiness.
I appeared happy. Funny thing about appearances…
In April 2011 on an interstate in Mississippi, my whole life changed with the snap of a tree.
There was a storm. A fallen tree. An accident.
His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he shook all over. I thought he was dying. I felt helpless and numb.
He wasn’t dying, but the road was rough from there. Surgeries. Insurance companies. Everything we knew about our life, our job, our relationship- it was gone.
The pendulum swung and got stuck. It used to tick perfectly, but everything shifted to my shoulders. The weight was too much. I shut down.
Through the transition, I had to find work independent of “our” job. So what’s an out of work trucker to do?
Take a nanny job, of course.
I met B on a breezy spring afternoon. I first set eyes on her through the screen door of their McMansion. She was wearing a clown wig and staring at me curiously. My time with her was challenging (mainly because I had no clue what I was doing) but the most fun I’ve ever had at work.
When life really sucked at home I could forget it all by making bunny rabbits out of sandwiches, splashing in puddles, and singing Raffi songs with her.
Her smile and laugh was infectious. One particularly hard day I broke down while reading her a book. It was the first time she ever saw me cry. She looked up at me confused, then quickly ran to her toy box and started digging. Out came a little bear. She kissed it and handed it to me, lovingly.
She got it. She got what most adults don’t get. We really do belong to each other, no matter how old or young. If someone is down, you lift them up. If they can’t walk, you carry them. The joyful spirit of this child carried me through the darkest days I’ve ever seen.
My marriage crumbled. Instead of begging my husband to stay when he told me he was leaving, I swallowed hard and showed him the door. I was terrified. I had nothing of any value left because he took it all.
But I was free.
Gone were the nights of walking on eggshells. Gone were the nights of drinking beer in the bathtub until I almost drowned just to make myself numb to my feelings. Gone were the deep breaths I’d have to take before opening the door when I came in from a long day of happy nanny life, the deep breaths I took because I had no idea what kind of mood I was walking into that day.
I was happy. For the first time in a very long time, I was truly happy.
I was broke. I had car payments I couldn’t pay, rent I could barely make, bills piling up. The only shopping I did was at Goodwill.
But I was still happy. It took eating cheese grits for dinner and scraping together rent to make me realize that money didn’t make me happy. I made me happy.
And an internet friend from England had turned into something much more. We Facetime’d constantly. He made me laugh and I fell very quickly in love with everything about him.
Matt’s visit to America was magical.
So magical that he decided to stay permanently. We did all of the American things we could think of, including a trip to NYC for my 31st birthday. Thirty was a hard year, so when he whisked me to the top of the Empire State Building just before midnight I looked out at all of the sparkly lights and realized something very important about myself:
I made it.
I spent most of 30 curled in a ball on the bathroom floor or drunk to numb the reality of the life I wasn’t enjoying.
But 31 was my year. 31 was the year I found out we were going to have a baby. 31 was the year I married the love of my life, the one who had my heart from 4,000 miles away. 31 was the year I realized that life goes on, no matter the hardships, no matter the struggles. You just jump right in and roll with it.
My trucking job taught me all about what not to place value in. Money never was the answer to any of the problems in my previous relationship. It was the downfall.
My nanny job taught me to slow down and splash in life’s mud puddles. It taught me patience and how to just BE with myself, instead of constantly looking for distraction. It taught me how to care for a little human. It taught me that a little human can change your view of the world. It is a wonderful place through the eyes of a child.
My mommy job..
I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve experienced in my life. Everything taught me little lessons about myself, the most important being this-
You only have one life. You laugh, cry, fight, scream, love, and live as hard as you can. And you tell anyone who’ll listen all about it, so that they might get something out of your story.