Sunday, December 6, 2009

Job = Independence?

"I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.
Only call your celly when I'm feeling lonely;
When it's all over, please get up and leave..."
- Destiny's Child

The word's of soulster Ne-Yo's Ms. Independent are similarly lauding of women who pay their own way - "She's got her own thing, that's why I love her."

I've always thought of myself as independent. I always offered to split the bill on dates, paid for my own trips and leisure. I have never asked or expected any man to pay my way. I, have in fact, looked down on women who expected their rent to be paid by any man who slept in their bed. Since getting married 10 years ago, my husband and I have paid our household expenses from a common pool, but I was free to buy a new dress or pair of shoes if I was so inclined.

After being a stay-at-home mom of circumstances for more than a year, the idea of female independence has been nagging at me. Now that I rely completely on my husband financially, can I still consider myself independent? Of course, marriage is supposed to be a partnership. There's not supposed to be any yours and mine - or at least that's what my husband assures me. That's all well and good, but then how do I assert my independence?

Finding my place in my new life has been hard. My children seem to like seeing me at their schools all the time and have even stopped asking me if I'm going to find a job. My husband has not set rules or pulled rank at all, and even pushes me to make the most of my 'free' time. I still feel uncomfortable. I hate filling out forms that ask for my profession and/or work number. My stomach tightens everytime someone asks me what I do, and I always say "When I was in Florida, I worked..."

I got all the lessons of feminism, but I never learned how to be comfortably reliant. I am, however, slowly realizing I have been asking the wrong question. Rather than trying to figure out how to assert my independence, I should be determining what means independence to me. I can decide independence shouldn't be just about money - or the ability to buy my own diamonds. Now if I can only figure what it is about I can stop feeling like a bum everytime I see another woman in a jewelry store.

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