I have experienced the itch to find work outside of the home for the entirety of my child bearing years. I tried to stay at work when I had my first daughter, but she was a very bad baby indeed. So I stayed home with her and worked various part-time jobs as I had my next three children—all boys.
I recently had an interview for a job as a business office manager. I ended up withdrawing from consideration after an interview. I realized that the stupid Cat’s in the Cradle song has basically ruined my life. I do want to be home with my babies as much as possible, especially while they are very small. So now I need a project.
I have been on a kick of listening to podcasts lately, and I often hear the formula of “This horrible thing happened to me, and now I am wildly successful.” This made me realize that possibly part of the reason I have been floundering is that I have such a good life. I love my husband. Our kids think I am mean, but mostly they don’t hate me. It is a financial challenge for me to stay home, but not insurmountably so.
I did have a major change in caregivers when I was nine years old. My parents divorced, and I gained a stepmother very quickly. Maybe that is one source of my passion for this subject?
Awhile ago I was crying and dithering to my husband about what to do with myself. Job possibilities arose, and I kept feeling the need to reject them. Finally, he said, “Well, what do you care about?” It took me quite a bit of wading through things I care about less, such as, “providing for our children, buying plants for my garden whenever I want, getting a break from our kids so I appreciate them when I am with them.” I was going to say those are shallow things, but they are not. They are important to me on a day to day basis. But deep down, in my gut / heart place, they don’t matter as much as some other big picture things that eat at me. Finally, in a moment of clarity I realized that I care about caregivers. I care about people who spend big chunks of their lives caring for other people. I feel their quiet, challenging contributions are vastly undervalued in our society, and I want to do something about that.
For the past several years, every January I have had an idea for a big photo project I wanted to do that year. And every year I blow it out of proportion in my mind, get overwhelmed, and decide not to do it. Before I begin. Yeah, that is another reason I have not been very successful. Giving up before you begin=guaranteed recipe for failure.
So this year I have decided that I am going to do a project. I am going to shoot one to four photos a month of unpaid caregivers. If I end up with 12 (or fewer if I need a month off), so be it. I am giving myself permission not to astound the world, but to do something simple that is meaningful to me. I will also interview them. I will try to capture them in their environments, and honor their work here with photos and writing.
I felt so happy the day I took the first one. I was nervous, so I started with a good friend who I knew would be patient with me, and that was a good choice. I couldn’t find the model release I had brought, and I lost my keys when I had to go back to the car to get something, and she talked me through my jitters.
After my good experience with my friend, I decided that another reason this project will work for me is my sensitive soul. We live in a world where I have had to come a long way to be able to read the news without ending in a deep depression. These are my people. They care.