Monday, November 7, 2011

dependent independence

Max is screaming his head off upstairs.  Aric is probably trying to do something for him again.  They're all home today, sick...supposedly.  Too sick to go to school, but not down enough to stop chasing each other around the house, antagonizing each other, rough housing, tearing up room after room, gasping for breath through swollen throats as they yell that someone won't stop doing something.  I started this morning by asking them to use their problem solving tools.  Then I separated them.  Then I started screaming.  Now I've separated them again, thrown away the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they were walking around the house with (why do they continue to do that even after I've told them a million gazillion times to eat at the table!?!????), and so far, everyone is quiet again.

I've been at my computer all morning trying to upload client sessions and get caught up.  If I didn't have any other distractions like work and Facebook....I could probably handle the kids more gently and patiently.

But I am working.  Because I have to.  Also, because I want to.

It's not much yet, but my photography business provides me with more than just an outlet to express my creative talents.  It helps provide me with security and sense of self.

I have frequently hated that throughout my life, I have always been totally dependent on others for my very survival and financial care.  I love being a mother (not today, but most days...), and I understand it's a sacrifice to stay at home and raise children, and that the sacrifice comes at a huge risk of dependence and some cases, a desperate feeling of being trapped.

I've been that single mom of four kids with no college education or real work skills or experience to support my family of five.  I've tried.  When that didn't work, I went back to being dependent on a broken system that holds you in poverty;  if you make too much, you lose everything.  You are rewarded for having nothing.

When R had been dating for about 6 months, I was in the process of getting evicted from my low income apartment because my four young kids were too loud in our upstairs unit.  Never mind that even tiptoeing across the floor would cause it to creak and groan.  We got our last warning and I broke down.  There was no place to go from there.  I couldn't afford a better place to live, so R took us all in. 

I hated that I didn't have options.  Do you know what it feels like to be 31 years old and not be able to provide a home for your children?  Don't get me wrong, I was and am grateful EVERY DAY for R and everything he has provided so graciously for us when he didn't have any obligation or need to.  He is simply an amazing human being.  However, I want to feel the independence of being able to provide not only for myself, but for my kids as well.  I want to own a home that I bought myself.  I want to own a car that I bought myself. 

The lifestyle that R provides for this family is enough for us all to have our needs and a good number of wants met, and that is amazing, but it's still *his* money.  Sure, we talk and decide about financial decisions equally, but if he wants something, he'll just get it.  If there is something I want, I have to ask for it.  It's humbling.  And humiliating.

The flip side of dependence and hating to ask for everything is that I feel like a huge burden.  When we got together, R had a lifestyle where he could pretty much have anything he wanted.  He had disposable income and plenty of ways he wanted to spend it.  Now it's a stress each month to figure out how we're going to meet all of our needs and have a little extra for movies and fun things so we don't go batshit crazy.  I hate this.  I daydream about moving out and getting back on the system and letting it take care of me and the kids until I'm able to do so.  I daydream about seeing his bank account fill back up.  I desire to see him have a 401k again and a savings account and his own security come back.  Whenever I bring this up, he always says the risk is worth the reward of having a family and this crazy lifestyle, as stressful as it is. 

I am working because I have to but also because I want to.  I want to turn my photography into something sustainable and profitable that can help provide my family with stability and security.  I want to grow my business and build something for myself that is all mine, but from which I can support my family with.  I know it will happen, but when the kids are screaming and sick and the house is trashed and I feel like a huge screaming mess...the reality of running a successful photography business seems so far away.  It's good to have something in my life that I have control over. ;)

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