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.