Webster's New World Dictionary defines independence as follows:
in-de-pend-ence: n. 1. the state or quality of being independent; freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another or others 2. [Now Rare] an income sufficient for a livelihood.
I am an independent woman. It is up to me to make all my own decisions for both myself and Sammy and Charlie. The consequences of my actions are mine and mine alone. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. If I want ice cream for dinner, so be it. If I want to spend my weekends volunteering or staring at the TV, that's what I am going to do.
There may be some out there who think I am lucky that I have the freedom to do as I please without answering to anyone. Those are the people who did not really know what my life was like with James.
James had a motto: "what Heather wants, Heather gets." (With the exception of a 3rd dog, that is!) He was not the least bit controlling. He once told me that just knowing I was there was enough. We had our date nights on Thursdays and Sundays and we did do a lot together. But we also had very different interests. If I wanted to go see a play with a friend, his response was "better her than me." The theater was not his thing, but we would go see comedians we liked when they came to town. If I wanted to do a volunteer project and we didn't already have plans for that day, he would just ask when I would be home. On the nights my bunco group met, he would always leave the stove light on for me so I could see when I finally made it home. All that really mattered was at the end of the day, I came home. And it went both ways. If he wanted to meet up with friends after work, I just told him to be careful. If he wanted to go play golf with his buddy, I just told him to have fun and I'd see him when he got home.
We talked about me not working, only working part time, only working tax season and me going back to school. Although James would have loved for me to stay home and provide for me, he knew that wouldn't ultimately make me happy. And that was all he really cared about: that I was happy. He encouraged me to try things that appealed to me that I was too nervous or shy to pursue without that little nudge. He knew me better than I know myself and he gave me the freedom and the strength to explore who I am. I am now drawing on that strength to be the woman I know I can be.
I am an independent woman. I have been one all along. And I would much rather be an independent woman with a partner than a independent woman flying solo.