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Photo taken by contributor Carrie Hilgert, a 36-year-old photographer and portrait artist from Northeast Kansas. After venturing into digital photography, she became interested in documenting her life with self portraits. This became particularly helpful when her life started to fall apart due to depression. All her other creative outlets left her, but she could always process her very dark feelings with self portraits. While she is doing much better now, she maintains compassion for those going through these hard things and hopes that her photography can give an honest insight into something that makes most people feel very isolated and alone.
About this photo: “This child.
He is growing into someone I never expected. This is my favorite thing that life does. Just when you think you have something or someone figured out, one day you realize everything you feared would happen, doesn’t.
Jack is my 3rd born. He was my youngest human for six years. That’s long enough to believe you’re the youngest. Know what I mean? I really think there’s something to that whole birth order thing. I’m the oldest and not only are we the burden bearers of this world, we are also martyrs extraordinaire and walk around with a sense of entitlement.
It’s a well earned entitlement. We are the guinea pigs in which moms and dads cut their parental teeth on; making all the mistakes they have to apologize for later.
So Jack had plenty of time to get settled in his baby-of-the-family role before SURPRISE, SURPRISE, here comes another small human no one expected. Least of all me.
To top it off, Jack had some delays and behavioral issues that made him seem even more the baby. When the caboose showed up, I’m pretty sure Jack regressed. For several years. And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
He was volatile, overly emotional, hyperactive, inconsolable and unpredictable. And that was just a typical morning.
Once we put him in public school (we homeschooled for 7-8 years), it seemed good for him but he had issues for a long while. He couldn’t switch schedules from the weekend to the weekdays without crying. He went through periods of depression and saw a counselor at school and outside of school. In all fairness, some of this happened when his dad and I split up and I think he just took it the hardest.
That was difficult to watch. I felt helpless.
But now? A completely different kid. Time has a way of going on and turning and the thing you wished would be solved gets kind of lost in all that. And one day you see a photo or they walk through the room with this different demeanor and it hits you. That thing is just gone. It’s over. And there is this new person now. Or maybe just the one that had been pushed down inside because of life’s stress.
And it’s wonderful.
When the Austrian came into the picture, I felt in my bones that it would be this positive effect on all my kids. And I was right. There is something special about this man that draws people to him, even though he claims to be anti social. The kids love him. Jack has never tried so hard to do his chores without being reminded. The other night he got angry with the smallest human and lost it for a few minutes. I realized then that he hadn’t done that in months. That there hadn’t been any brotherly altercations with the large human boy/man either, for a very long time.
The Austrian said of Jack, “he’s a special kid that will do special things, if he figures it all out.” I think he has a chance now, more than ever.
It’s times like this, when I see the growth in such a child that I had almost lost hope for, that I am so glad I made the decision to end my marriage. I know that sounds bad, but the environment was horrible. I was depressed, the kids were depressed. Their dad had created a black hole of misery. I don’t think he ever knew how to fix it. So I had to.
I’m just really lucky that I get to have a part in these human’s lives and somehow woke up before it was too late.”