Sunday, September 30, 2012

Social Safety Nets.

Gah.  Where to start?  I don't know what the beginning is, I'm not even sure that it has a definite start-point.  But somewhere in the last couple of years, this funk began.  If you're a married woman, with a kid, and a career, you probably have met this funk at some point, too.  The funk is that of struggle, specifically with some one close to you.  And yourself.  All at the same time. 
It's been a rough year or so for our house and family.  There was a great beginning with the birth of Miss E and her daddy and papa's delight, but most of the rest has been downhill.  The death of my sister, the shenanigans with my dissertation, the horrible academic job market, the fight over one kind of historic-ish house, and my diagnosis as PDD-NOS have all put a damper on the mood on Cedar Street.  Not that things had been easy before then, mind you, but it's gotten a lot harder lately.
Part of it is my own fault, and I'll admit that I do jump too readily to help out when and where I can.  It's how I was raised.  At the same time, while I've been busy jumping to others' aid, there's been a tremendous lack of support for our household.  We're not in either of our home towns, we don't have family close by, we're not members of a church, we don't have a lot of the social support systems that other people do, and that were common even fifty years ago.  Our extended families have typically come to us for help, not the other way around, and Dwight and I both find it hard to ask for help.
We did seek and find help a few years back with couple's counseling, and that was a huge boost for us.  Lately, however, The Funk has been creeping back, and with a vengeance.  
See, it's tougher than Dwight or I thought to either go to grad school or to parent a small child.  And that makes keeping a relationship stable even harder.  Unfortunately, we were too busy keeping everything else afloat to pay attention to our marriage.  And so, we'll likely do what we've been doing for 11 years now- making our own safety met as best as we can.  If that means being less involved in the community, pulling back on our workloads, whatever.  Of course the absolute *need* for this readjustment of priorities and refocusing of energies (and realization of exactly how bad things had gotten) had to come on the wedding day of two of my best friends.  Gotta love perfect timing, right?
What's the point of all this, besides whining?  To point out the fallacy of the right.  Mr. Romney's made some interesting declarations lately concerning "the 47%" and "borrow money from your parents if you need to."  That idea- that family and/or charity will come to the need of people instead of the government- is great if you have family that's in a position to provide the necessary assistance, let alone family.  These two things are not always available, and in an age when more and more people are moving away from their families to follow a job or education, they're even less likely to have access to familial help. 
Feel free to call me a crazy liberal, but isn't this the point of government?  To provide a safety net when no other safety net is available?  Not every person has the privilege of having outside sources of support when they fall.  Are they worth less than those who do have that privilege, or do they deserve a safety net any less?  Don't all people deserve at least a chance?  Isn't that part of the promise of the US?  I think it is.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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