Image by garlandcannon via Flickr
My depression and anxiety is held at bay with a daily dose, but meds are no wonder cure. Most people would never guess that I am a depressive. I like to socialize. I love, love to laugh. I adore my daughter, my family and my friends (even my ex-husband!). But, the depression hovers. It’s tiring. Exhausting. Many days, I feel that all I can manage is to be a good mom. Nothing else. Love my daughter. Accomplish that in a day, stay focused, create quality time and check the “task completed” box. Because, I actually love our life. I love her smile and her laugh and how she expresses her creativity on a daily basis as we make up chapter stories every time we buckle up in the car, how she devises dance routines, plays in three acts and performs cooking experiments in the kitchen (without a recipe) that are actually edible. It’s all a tremendous wonder. I’m still in awe that she is my child, that I was lucky enough to be rewarded this exact being.
I remind myself that I am indeed a good photographer. I’m good at taking kids’ headshots. I can tap into their ability to allow their inhibitions to melt away and bring forth their full personality. So, why can’t I make a decent living? And, every day I vow to not give up on my dream to be a published writer who can actually sell enough books so that I can write full-time. But, is this delusional? Parents aren’t supposed to be delusional, are they? Chasing a pipe dream is not the best example for a child. (Though, it IS if you succeed.)
I can taste success. Some nights, it seems so close. When I finished my second manuscript, I gave it to four very different friends, and completely different readers. I received great constructive criticism and I returned to editing feeling invigorated and re-energized. I finally have a query I like and a synopsis that recaps the story in four pages, reflecting the novel’s voice and style (Oiy!). I drift off to sleep, imagining an agent signing me, a publisher wanting me, believing so much in my work that they give me a good—great, incredible!—advance and I’m strolling the streets of New York City after my first amazingly successful book signing. Then, my adrenalin surges and I’m wide awake. (At least it wasn’t an anxiety attack. Progress, no?)
Well, I’m still here in my sweltering second-story Hollywood apartment (down on the flats, not up in the coveted, moneyed hills). The wall-to-wall carpeting incessantly draws in the heat; the fan blows hot air around. My daughter’s asleep next to me in the bed (she’s going through a bout of fearing the dark—every shadow, every darkened doorway, even the lovely moon outside her window). I stroke her back, happy that she’s calm now, sleeping without fear. She even laughs in her sleep (I hope she never stops doing that!).
I am typing on my laptop. It’s ten to one in the morning. I love the stillness and quiet. The peace. The contentment I am feeling is enough to help me through one more day.
A grown-up? A full-blown adult? I hope to be one some day. It’s a worthwhile goal. A worthwhile dream.
© 2011 Will I Ever Be a Grown-Up? Part III by Kat Ward
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My single-employee photography business (me) continues to struggle. I never have enough money. I have allowed my parents to pay for my daughter’s guitar lessons, my health insurance and many other things that were beyond my reach. They, as well as my older sisters, have been there when I have come up short. And, that makes me feel diminished, a not-quite adult. I am blocked about how to make money. I have no problem working hard, giving my all to every job I’ve had—to the point that in her first year, I was often getting up at 4 a.m. to load my work equipment into my 4-Runner, then getting my daughter packed up and ready to drive her to a friends’ nanny, so I could work a 12-to-14 hour day before picking her up in the evening at my friends. Thankfully, I was able to find 9-5 employment (as her father worked long days when he could find work), and she appeared to adapt well to full-time daycare at the age of one and a half (and, so I keep telling myself).
I am stumped. Insufficient income and insolvency creates stress and I am not as good a mother as I want to be. My patience flags; it’s hard to stay in the moment and have quality time with my daughter—my mind is almost always half elsewhere. I look at my friends who married and are now stay-at-home moms and I envy them. Crazy envy. (How gross is that?) I don’t regret my ex-husband because he’s a great dad and the love we experienced was intense, wonderful and it produced our daughter, but I loathe (loathe!) the bone-aching, stomach-bubbling, constant worry about money.
I can’t manage to keep money in my savings account. There is no retirement fund. No college fund. I am at a loss. Everyday, I try to figure out the correct path, to see what I have not been seeing that will lead to financial success. How delicious to have a small house with a yard for the dog my daughter wants so badly (I want a black lab puppy). I would love to take her to Europe where I extensively traveled in my youth or Down Under where I backpacked for a year. I want to feel the thrill of a foreign land again, and, hopefully, infect my girl with the travel bug and the endless wonders of our world. But, I have to steal from Peter to pay Paul, and now Peter’s constantly broke and refuses to have anything to do with me.
So, I fail. Every day. And I work, every day, to rebuild my spirit, my belief in myself, in my talent, and in my ability to succeed and provide for my daughter. Copious amounts of energy is exerted trying not to lose hope, not succumb to the spirit-paralyzing reality that this may be the best I can do. I try to shake it off, but with each passing year and the same financial distress, it’s harder to revive Hope. The road ahead seems truncated, paths of opportunity hidden by granite walls and malicious thorns. Have I got blinders on?
My first black hole of depression began in the 7th grade and lasted until my 17th year and a soul-reviving three months in Europe, exemplified by a Sunday afternoon sitting by the lakeside in Lausanne, Switzerland. I felt content. And, I knew that all was not lost. In subsequent years, I have often tapped into the way I felt in that moment and, somewhere inside (and it can be buried really, really deep), I know that whatever the current struggles, I emerged once, and I can again.
Part III, next post
© 2011 Will I Ever Be a Bona Fide Grown-Up? Part II by Kat Ward.