This time of year, we talk about independence. We celebrate our country becoming independent. We celebrate becoming our very own country, no longer under someone else’s rule. I think that’s how most people view independence, as the better of the two. Dependence therefore is bad. We must fight to get our independence.
But can’t dependence be good?
The day a baby exits their mother’s womb is what many consider their own independence day. They no longer rely on their mother to hold them inside of her as part of her own body. They are their own separate person. But are they really?
Babies don’t even understand the concept that they are separate from their mothers until they are around 7 months. So why do we treat them as such? Baby is sent to the nursery so mom can sleep. Baby is taught to comfort itself with a pacifier so they need not bother mom with that task. Baby is put in a room down the hall to sleep and expected to sleep for a full 10 hours every night, often left to cry if they do not do so.
But dependence fosters independence. What I read so often in books is finally becoming evident to me in my own life. Peanut was, in my eyes, the most dependent baby I have ever seen. She wanted to nurse constantly. I’m not joking, those around me can attest to the fact that Peanut nursed every 60-90 minutes, around the clock, until she was over 6 months old. There was no scheduling around nursing for her. Even when I was gone, she hardly wanted to take a bottle. She fought the pacifier like it was covered in acid. She woke up the moment I tried to lay her in a crib. Life was hectic and difficult and sometimes I just sat in a dark room crying for no particular reason, but it’s all paying off.
Now, Peanut is a fiesty little thing. She knows what she wants and she goes for it with all of her might. She plays longer by herself I’ve ever seen another kid her age do. She is assertive and knows who she is. She is growing into a wonderful little person. It is my honest belief that her being so dependent on me, and me allowing that, helped her to become what she is today. Sure, she is still dependent. When she meets new people, or even when she sees people she knows and they don’t give her time to process, she comes to me to hide. When she’s injured, she wants no one except me. She still sleeps in our bed and wants to cuddle with me. I have no problem with any of this. She’s still becoming independent, but she still has a way to go. She knows that I’m safe. She can rely on me. That fills me with glee.
I was reading a friend’s blog, which she had to shut down because of a stalker. She’s was posting privately to let those who know her know why she had to shut down the blog. She transcribed some of the things that the stalker had written, and a large part of it was about how, by being a stay at home mom, she was dependent on her husband. Dependent on her children. Of course, in her eyes, this was a bad thing.
I started to think about it. Am I dependent on my husband? Financially, yes, very much so. For adult conversation? Of course. For love? Yes! Wait, how is any of this, besides the financial contribution, different from when I worked? It’s not.
I think that’s a sign of a good marriage–to be dependent on each other. He’s dependent on me too. Not just to raise his children, but for all the other things for which I’m dependent on him. Love, conversation, sex, fulfillment, fun, clean clothes (alright, that’s just him dependent on me), friendship, joy, debating, discussing, and so many other things. Of course, each other isn’t the only place we get those things, but it’s where we get the best of those things. Marriage is about having someone in your life that nothing can replace, and I think we fit the bill on that for each other. I need him in my life, more than financially. He’s my one-and-only.
So is it a bad thing that I’m dependent on him? I think not. I can find other ways to fulfill myself, but I will always want and need him, regardless of if I’m working. So I’m taking time off of my career to raise our children, so what? Sure, it’s more difficult financially, but we’ve decided, together, that it’s how we want to raise our kids. I trust him enough to be financially dependent on him. Yet another important part of a marriage.
So, in this beautiful month of July, let’s celebrate dependence, as well as independence. Dependence fosters independence. Dependence is not bad, but necessary. It’s great to love someone enough to be dependent on them.