Mom watches him splashing happily in the pool at the local YMCA. “I’m a shark!” he yells, before diving back under water. After a few minutes, he reappears and yells (yes, he’s a yeller) “Hey, mom! Can we go get ice cream? It’s just 49 cents at McDonald’s!” Mom shakes her head no, and he shrugs, heading back to the deep end.
And that’s when the tears start. Not from him, but from mom.
You see, that child has no idea that his mother has a whopping 12 cents in her checking account, and that 12 cents has to somehow magically feed them and buy gas this weekend. Then, on Monday, there will be some relief, when a bank loan goes through and deposits into aforementioned account. Of course, the money will be short lived, as there is an electric bill to pay and a pair of back-to-school shoes to buy. But until that loan deposits, they just may have to go hungry.
My family of two is just one of the US current “working poor”–those who don’t qualify for assistance because they (supposedly) make “too much.” They live paycheck to paycheck, and even then, it doesn’t always stretch far enough. They sometimes have to choose between food and gas, medicine and electricity. Those are hard choices, but ones that have to be made constantly. I know because I have to make those choices every single day.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, so mom must be lazy,” right? Or maybe you assume I’m uneducated. And then there are those who think, “Maybe she shouldn’t have had a baby she couldn’t afford.” Or, insert one of a million other generalizations here, because I’ve never heard those before either.
But here’s the thing: Those are just generalizations. I’m is not lazy. As a matter of fact, I work a full time job that neither pays enough nor offers any kind of benefits. The one upside is that the company lets me take time off several times a month so I can take my son to his myriad of doctor appointments and therapies. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my son is on the Autism Spectrum, and the family’s out of pocket medical expenses take a huge chunk of my income.
And, did you notice that I said my income? That’s because the father doesn’t step up and pay for the things that his son needs … but that’s probably for a different post.
As for education, I got my master’s degree 12 years ago (Shocking, right?). And, I’m not just some dummy who had a baby randomly. I’m actually happily divorced, but get no child support.
And it’s not just me, it’s MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. They are your friends and neighbors. Their kids go to school with your kids. Maybe it’s you.
I know it’s me.
This post was written by a guest blogger, who didn’t want to associate her name with this out of fear that it would bring shame to her son.