In case anyone is browsing this section looking for a story to read and you AREN'T in our shoes, let me give you a run down of how it is for most of us stuck in the middle of the financial grid, or even at the lower end.
We are the ones that make just a few dollars (and I mean that) too much to qualify for any assistance for our households, and too little to get by on our own.
Some of us are college graduates, and some of us are graduates and continuing students in the school of hard knocks.
We all have a story. We all have emotions and feeling in ourselves, and most of us build up a wall to keep our kids from seeing this and we try to be strong and hold all of it together.
We ARE Mom AND Dad. Maybe because of divorce, maybe because we never even married, maybe because someone passed away or maybe because we decided to go it alone. But WE are the beginning and the end of every decision and it all falls on our shoulders, everyday. Most of the time we don't get breaks and we are the 24/7 Go To.
This is how life is for me each month. So if anyone out there is searching the single parent section looking for someone to slam, maybe after reading this you will understand a little bit better that we are not lazy and we are doing the best we can.
I have a support order, but I don't receive anything because my childrens Dad finds work under the table. They can't find any income to garnish.
I live paycheck to paycheck. I don't qualify for foodstamps because I make a few dollars an hour too much to do so. So, am I better off than some? Maybe. But I don't agree.
My rent takes more than half of my pay each month, for a two bedroom one bath apartment. No amenities, no cable, no home phone, just basic internet Then I make my car payment, car insurance, pay for daycare, put gas in my car, pay for water and sewer, my BASIC cell phone plan, and power/electricity.
There is no eating out unless a friend or family member pays for it. There are no movies and sadly, for two years, no birthday parties for my kids and no presents over $10.00 either. Somehow I can make a cake and have a family gathering, but that is all.
I shop at the discount grocery store and buy expired things (dry goods) and non brand name items. I go to the dollar store to buy soap, shampoo, detergent and cat food and things like saran wrap and foil if I have to have it. I buy milk at the gas station because the grocery store charges too much. My kids drink ice water outside of having one glass of milk with dinner or one before school. Milk is too expensive.
A few days a week, I skip breakfast and lunch if I have to, because there isn't enough food in the house to eat for dinners if I eat two extra meals a day. Sometimes a piece of bread and butter and a cup of coffee is all I will have during the day. If co workers ask me if I want to go out to lunch, I am embarassed and tell them I am full or already ate or have errands to do and come home for lunch.
At dinner, I feed my kids first, then I eat.
By the time the next check is due, I have about 4.28 cents in the bank (right now) if I am lucky. Every month I play Roulette with my bills, as I am paid by mail (check) and sometimes the day I put my check into the bank is the same day my rent check or other payments clear.
I have not have a tank of gas higher than the 1/4 mark in three years.
My front tires are both bald and I am 8K miles overdue for an oil change.
I was laid off for six months from an Executive Assistant position at a gourmet food company the day after Christmas in 2008 after being with them for a very long time. After a long search, the position I found was with a temp agency and I have been at this location for seven months. There are no sick days, no insurance, no health benefits and no vacation.
Last week I had the flu and was unable to get out of bed. With a high fever, I had no choice but to call in to work. I lost 8 hours of pay and put one of my old dressers on Craigslist to try and make up the difference. It didn't sell. I have a box of macaroni and cheese and a package of rice left this week.
I started applying for part time night jobs so that I can give my kids a Christmas this year. If I don't find something soon, I won't be able to make it in December financially.
I have considered breaking my lease and moving into a one bedroom apartment in a city further away just to make ends meet and try to get ahead in this economy.
I am lucky in that my kids have insurance through a state health plan. They can stay healthy. This takes a weight off my heart and mind.
This isn't a ploy to try and get the world to feel sorry for me, or to even write a sob story.
Just remember the next time you turn your head at a stoplight and see someone sitting in their car waiting for the light to change, you really have no idea what their life is like or what they do everyday just to get by.
You have no idea that the co worker sitting in the cube next to you is so broke she has to count change to put a gallon of gas in her car to get home. Or, that the Dad working extra hours and leaving his kids home alone to do so (which you silently criticize) isn't going to make it this month despite the extra hours.
Just remember before you pass judgement on someone. You have no idea who they really are and the weight they carry.
A Single Mom in Washington
And by the way, I make $17 per hour. And I still can't make it.