After high school I went to a small junior college in the northeast corner of Colorado. I had a lot of fun, and grew up a lot. I met some lifelong friends there that I cherish still to this day. I melded well in all sorts of groups: the “turf-ers”, (landscape students) cowboys, jocks – just to name a few. I had protection from “beer goggle” evenings, and I was there for my friend with a “Momma Said NO!” on his. (we both had partners outside of college, so we supported each other like best friends-no “hanky panky”)
One of my favorite memories was the end-of-year challenge where we had competitions from a greased-pole climb to mud volleyball. We were called the “No Chance Hose Bags”…and we were true to the name. We sucked. We spent our nights dancing at the “Crystal Rose” country bar, which is where I got my nickname. The DJ started it all when he forgot my last name, and over the mic he said “this one goes out for Heather Rooooooo”. (I had asked him to play “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”) It was so funny! From that night on I was known as “Heather Roo”, which was better than “Rocky”, the name I was called after a small incident that I was involved in a few weeks prior. (I’ll leave that story out – but I will say “he” started it!)
After we moved on from school, I moved to Limon to resume my job at McDonalds. I had worked there from age fifteen, so I was confident in my role there and was even promoted to manager. One day, I got a strange call from a friend that just disappeared from the roster; she was in Connecticut. She was working as a nanny and wanted to know if I would be interested; $200 a week, no weekends, no expenses, and no McDonalds. Done! A few weeks later we (my friend Brandy wouldn’t let me leave without her) were in my car, heading 3000 miles away to my job and my new place in Connecticut. Aside from being snowed in overnight in Pennsylvania, we made it through unscathed, although driving over the G.W. Bridge was a little bit of a nightmare.
Nanny life was great, I love kids. The hardest part of the job was dealing with the parents; they were either gone working, or playing tennis. I learned a lot from working with the three different families I worked with, but living with another family had its challenges. One family promised me medical insurance, which came in handy when I tore my ACL and Medial Meniscus. The problem arose when she never got any for me and wanted me to pay for the expenses of my meniscus repair. I faxed my father, Harry, to see if the contract I had was valid, and that my employer would be responsible. After finding out why I used their fax machine I was fired and asked to leave; had I lied about it I would’ve been okay, but that is just not me. They gave me my pay for the past few weeks I hadn’t been paid for and off I went, (on crutches) homeless again.
My second family was a (kosher) jewish family that seemed nice enough, and they had two young boys. My job started out great. I had the kids in a good routine, and I was making progress on their eating habits. (one boy wanted to take an hour to eat and only mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets) The husband worked out of the home one day a week in the beginning, and at some pointed changed to be home nearly everyday. He wasn’t just working anymore, but he seemed to spend a lot of time with me and it made me feel uncomfortable. They also started asking me to be more of a “maid” than a “nanny”, which I wasn’t interested in. I felt like they should be able to make their own bed and clean up after their dinner, and I had not been hired for that. They also wanted me to cook for them, and I didn’t know the rules of the kosher diet. It was difficult to learn how to cook “this” meal, but not use “that” utensil, and I wasn’t that comfortable working so closely to the husband. The husband seemed to be getting way too “into” me, so I decided to leave. After spending time covering my friend Michelle’s vacation, I was hired again by the coolest family ever!
The Oz family was just what I needed; they were fair, firm, and forgiving. She asked me to not tie up the phone all the time, be home by the curfew, and not to let anyone else drive their daughter, I did all of them. It wasn’t intentional, it just so happened that my long-lost best girlfriend tracked me down and we talked for an hour the first week I was there, and I had just met my future husband a few days before I moved in. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over very well, and I was called up right away. My employer sat me down, in a matter-of-fact manner, and told me it wasn’t going to work if that was the way I wanted to be. Immediately I apologized, and told her it wouldn’t happen again. I did well following the rules, until I rode with another nanny friend of mine to the aquarium. Again I was called up, but this time she was fine with the hours I keep, (as I had proved myself by then) but this rule she was not going to change. Again I apologized and we moved on. She was so good at managing me and never held a grudge, she never made me feel unwanted, unwelcome, or uncomfortable. Her husband was great too, never crossed a line or made me nervous to be around him. I learned a lot from seeing their family interactions and how they parented their girl. She had a baby boy while I was there too, and she taught me so much about parenting and how to take care of a newborn. I stayed with that family until I got married. (she stayed home with her kids and I went to work in an office) She treated me like the “mother of the bride”, and also hosted my bridal shower. Her daughter was my flower girl, and I will always remember how sad this little girl was on my wedding day. We had such a great relationship and she didn’t want me to be a “bride”, she wanted me to be her “nanny”.
You never know what experiences are going to stick with you for life. I grew up and learned so much living with so many different families, and making mental notes on how I want to live my life in the future. Not that I didn’t learn in Colorado, but the early experiences as a young adult were priceless. I wanted to have a chance at a life with no ceilings, and I wasn’t ready for that when I left Colorado. Not only did I learn a lot about marriage and parenting, but I also learned how to be a wife. I learned how to dance and have fun with my kids, raise them with attributes you expect, and leave emotions out of discipline. Even bad experiences have lessons to be learned, and the best people find the lessons in any situation, and learn from them, so the same mistakes don’t happen over and over again.
It wasn’t easy for me to leave my family and my friends in Colorado, but I needed to do it for myself. I was homeless, but I didn’t give up and go home. (not that I had a “home” to go to anyway) I ended up having the best family I could’ve asked for; years later, baby boy I nicknamed “Harr-Bear” helped calm my fears while my oldest son while traveling in Thailand, and I look forward to seeing my little girl (my flower girl) get married in September.