One of my new goals in all this self searching I have been doing is to move toward financial independence. I currently depend upon my husband to provide all of our family's financial needs while I remain at home house-wiving, homeschooling, doing all I can do alone on our homestead, and working on side projects. It is hard for me at times to have to think about the fact that I am spending another person's hard earned money when I want to buy a gift for my girls, or something I don't particularly need, but want. We also have to make a lot of personal sacrifices in order to make sure bills are paid and we are all fed well and kept healthy. For example, I currently have two pairs of pants that fit me the way they should and don't completely fall from my body if I take my belt off. I'm rarely out of the house, so I make do.
In looking at my options for work alongside my hopes and dreams, then factoring in what I'm actually capable of doing with little to no childcare, I can't help but think of how things have changed since my childhood. My parents had readily available free childcare from my grandparents, great grandparents, and aunts and uncles. We really were raised in a village it seems and if I am honest, I don't know what would have came of us if we hadn't been. I have very little time that is not consumed by raising my children. I'm their primary caregiver, as it should be, but there is little time to be with friends, adult conversations with a real person, or to hold a job outside of the home because my daughters' grandparents aren't able to provide daily childcare (as most of them are still working full time jobs passed retirement age) and we cannot afford a paid sitter.
Another thing I noticed as a child was how completely absorbed the adults around me were in financial concerns. Did we have enough money? While I'm concerned with our family's finances and I have a clear picture of what I'd like for us in terms of lifestyle and how effectively our money is spent, I let go of most of the worry around the amount we have available. Yet, recently, I began to see the need for me to have earnings of my own more than I ever have. While it should not be the case that money brings power to a voice, I have come to realize that it does, even within many family structures. Traditional roles of womanhood and motherhood are truly outdated if we desire to be seen as peers with our male counterparts. Tradition is not always a good thing as many are informed by outdated ways of thinking and viewing the world. I feel a movement away from these traditions and to a more balanced way of being is in order.
Southeastern Kentucky, where I reside, is once again in the midst of an outward migration of people. I see quite a bit on Facebook that friends and family are planning moves outside of the region to Tennessee and Ohio most often. Our family's choice to remain in the mountains is a big one. It is in many ways a sacrifice of opportunities for ourselves and our children. However, as we currently see things, there is much to be gained by staying and trying to create our own way of life in the region. This will always be home to us who were born and raised here. It is as integral to who we are as our heart or mind. The truth is, those who stay here will have to depend on themselves and their community to develop a sustainable life post coal in the mountains.
I don't know if my current plan will result in financial independence for me, but I will have a little pocket change I hope. My plan is to make myself available as an editor to anyone requiring those services. I'm working with one client in California at the moment. I'm teaching yoga one evening a week, and I am offering my services as a writer/blogger to interested parties. It blends my passions with what I am capable of doing while still very much within a traditional role in my family as a full time mother. My success will depend a lot on my ability to market myself within the region, but also outside of it.
My dilemma is not unlike the one that residents of southeastern Kentucky are facing now and for the future. As more coal jobs are lost and our populations decline, we are searching for ways to make life here a possibility. The most common suggestions I've seen touted are tourism, farming, and manufacturing. A recent article from The Daily Yonder written by Tim Marema reported that populations of rural counties in all states who relied on these economic replacements have all lost population since the Great Recession. The only counties seeing growth were recreation counties and those only grew by 1.4%. For counties like the one I live in and those directly around us, any of these replacements would be difficult because of a lack of infrastructure and our location away from most major interstates.
As I have diversified my possibilities of earning for myself and my daughters without a typical hired position, I believe the region will only survive from a diversified approach that utilizes the internet and technology to reach populations outside of the region. We will have to put our unique stamp on what we do to attract people in and make a visit worth the effort to get here. We will also have to accept that our lifestyles may look very different from the ones we see away from here because it has to and living here is a choice.
I may have bitten off more than I can chew with my hopes of financial independence while still choosing full time mothering and homeschooling. I have no way of knowing without trying. Trying is the only thing to do. I want to show my daughters a world of possibilities in a reality of limited options. I can't help but see that it parallels the consciousness we are striving to get to in our region. Moving past the realization that what is currently taking place is unacceptable and in spite of our realities there is a world of possibilities. We have to do the work and imagine them. We have to really try.
6/29/2015 10:13:11 am
Much as I do! Thanks for reading.
6/27/2015 10:32:00 pm
Have you considered sending your kids to a public school? That would free up a lot of your time to be able to work, and while public schools are far from perfect I believe kids need that social contact among their peers to be well adjusted to life after school. Most of the homeschooled kids I grew up with had issues in social situations once they got older unfortunately.
6/29/2015 10:11:26 am
Joel, I will be kind in answering your question while explaining my position as briefly as possible and giving you some things to consider. I hold a Bachelor's in English and a Master's Degree in Education Secondary Level. I have certifications in Lamaze, yoga, and spiritual counseling. I'm educated. I am educated about education. My great grandmother was a public school teacher. My grandfather was a vocational school teacher, and my grandmother worked in the office of the Board of Education. I taught public school for 4 years before having my own children. Yes, I have deeply considered sending my daughters to public school and I rethink the decision to homeschool on a yearly basis. If I felt I had a better option than homeschooling, I would take it because I would like to work. I know what the public school system in our region can offer our family and right now I say thanks, but no thanks. My children attend a homeschool co-op several times a month. They have music and art classes every Friday with other children. They both attend dance class. They both attend a mountain music school yearly. They hang out with friends often. They are in no need of a classroom in a public school for socialization and I have absolutely no concern for their ability to function in the real world. In fact, my oldest daughter has no issue talking with anyone of any age about any topic she's interested in. She knows nothing about looking at older and younger people as different from herself. It is unfortunate that the homeschooled people you have experienced have those issues. It wasn't the homeschooling in and of itself that gave them issues if in fact your perception of them is correct. Maybe they had trouble interacting with you in particular. The fact that the public schools are so far from perfect and I can get socialization elsewhere that is far superior to being in a classroom of peers when compared to the reality of the real world, will keep my children from attending a public school in the near future. I can educate them on my own very well thank you. In fact, they don't even need me to teach them anything to learn and be successful. Thanks for your comment and concern. I do see your point about having them in school freeing up my time. That has been considered very very often.
6/30/2015 10:59:20 pm
Point well made. I stand corrected.
6/27/2015 11:56:22 pm
Joel...your post is rude at best and stereotyping worst. Everything about her homesteading is intentional. Suggesting she give up her influence on her daughters to the public school system is essentially saying "I can believe you didn't think of this obvious solution...free time and 'better' socialized children" get you malet privilege out of here.
6/27/2015 11:58:12 pm
Too many typos!
6/29/2015 10:12:24 am
Thanks Kendell! I replied. :)
6/30/2015 11:01:47 pm
Male privilege? Was just making a suggestion. Chip on your shoulder much?
6/30/2015 11:03:29 pm
Sexism does go both ways I hope you realize.
6/30/2015 12:02:51 am
I lived overseas when our children were small and was a stay at home mom for several reasons. Some of the drawbacks that you mention, like shortage of adult conversation, lack of babysitting, were alleviated when I started exchanging with another mom. We both had 2 children of similar age, each had one still nursing so we could take care of that too :). We shared a volunteer position which gave us the opportunity to be out in the community and doing good work which could be added to our resume when we wanted to rejoin the workforce. I know Eastern KY can be sparsely populated so maybe there isn't someone in your immediate area (my friend was located about 20 min away) but it's well worth a little investigation - who knows, you might find a new friend too :)
6/30/2015 12:20:17 am
Again, another insightful article. A perspective that, while may be prevalent, I've not heard voiced. Thinking back, I realize that having the comfort of a family member (my awesome mother-in-law) allowed me to work. Comfortable in the knowledge they were being cared for even better than I could have done.
7/2/2015 05:38:59 pm
I've left southeast ky for the city and came back in cycles that have lasted up to a year. I have things in my life that will always bring me back home. Now I'm older and I realize sooner; upon my optimistic return that I am going to have to pick up and leave again... Maybe I'm a coward, maybe I'm a grifter ???? I don't know. It's made me very angry lately and very upset and I've handeled my frustration in a lot of negative ways. Theres a revolving door of new faces when I return home .... I don't understand them.. they're not like me there not one of us(but it seems they want to be??) ... And then there is me... This is my home.... But I'm willing to just take off! what does that make me? Until a few months ago I've never really analyzed my relationship with my home... Isn't that creepy?? You've provoked a lot of thoughts from several posts I've read.
7/9/2015 05:10:33 am
Mike, I really resonate with your comments. I don't think you are a coward. Everyone I know that has chosen to come home also considers leaving on a regular basis. Not sure how old you are, but I'm speaking of my generation now. It isn't easy to stay here. I hear your frustration with the revolving door of faces. Community here, I find, isn't what it used to be when I was young. It is so complex the reasons people come here and no, they aren't like us. You are an Appalachian always whether or not you live here. It's in our blood. That is obvious by your convictions. Follow your heart.
7/7/2015 06:30:50 am
Thanks Kelli, I've never been a mommy or a wife. but your articles are very inspiring to me. and even though I'm alone, well I have a dog :) I am always pondering on my future and how I'll make it here in the mountains. really all I want to do is be self sufficient, grow a garden, can preserve foods, basically have a simple life on my own. but I sew, make shoulder bags/totes and sell them at the Perry Co Farmer's Market. I have just started doing this with hope it gives a little extra cash, and maybe doing more than bags at some point. but reading your blog inspires me, as well as keeping me in check with my womanhood. Thanks, Kelli :)
7/9/2015 05:13:05 am
Thanks for reading Pamela. The only way we know if we can do it is try. And, I'm so glad you are connecting with the womanhood aspects of my posts. It's taken me forever to accept the totality of womanhood.
I found your page via your feature on HOCA, and I almost couldn't make it all the way through this post because it's like someone wrote down this chapter of my life. Finding out that I'm not alone where I stand is an almost overwhelming relief right now.
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Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, weightlifter, yoga and movement instructor, chakra reader, and Reiki practitioner.