Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Domestic Enemies of the Low Income Mom

It was exactly one year ago that we posted this. And the reaction to it, both positive and negative, blew our minds. Reading it again a year later, I'm struck by how the comments section is as interesting as the post itself.  It does what it's supposed to, providing a glimpse of our collective perspective on what it.

From these reactions, the Holiday Hooker project was born. And we helped a couple thousand families like Tara's have a brighter holiday. Tomorrow we'll share how you can help this year, including more information about the gift card exchange.

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Today's post is from our pal Tara who wanted to tell us all about the schmidt that low income moms deal with every day.  Here's a little blurbitty blurb about her:

Hi, my name is Tara and I am the mother of two boys, Peanut Butter who is 5 and Jelly who is 2. I am also expecting baby number three, and for many reasons which will become clear, this baby will certainly be our last. I am also married to Jeffe (so named because he thinks he’s the boss, bahaha) who works part-time as a cook when I’m not at work and stays at home with the boys when I am at work. I work as an hourly manager at a fast-food coffee and donut shop. We are an awesome family, but we are broke.  And trust me, broke moms face their own set of enemies. Here they are:

1.) We’re Still Moms: One thing that rings true for all Low Income Mommies is that they’re still moms. Their finances are heaped on top of the fact that there are still chores to be done and children to distract from self-destruction love, and there seems to be a misconception that poor=lazy. I can proudly say that my laundry is folded, the floor is clean (except for the Cheerios under the couch), the dishes are done and the bathrooms are sanitized.

During my pregnancy with Jelly we were working with the local Human Services Department to make some improvements on our house and during the process an employee did several home visits. The first time she came over she remarked on what a relief it was that our house wasn’t a hellhole. You were expecting my house to be a horror-land of microbial death? In the kitchen on top of a very high shelf are the cleaning supplies: sponges, dish-soap and bleach. What can’t be cleaned using those items? There have been times where I’ve had to substitute dish-soap to wash our laundry but we still ended up with clean underwear. So stop-

2.) Acting Surprised: Once, when I brought the kids with me to work a regular said, “Oh, what handsome boys! How do you do it?” A smart-ass response came to mind and instead I asked, “I beg your pardon?” “With a tight budget it must be hard to find nice clothes.” Did you just look up the definition of a back-handed compliment and are now looking for ways to use it? Just because I have a McJob doesn’t mean I can’t clothe my children. Stop acting surprised. Also, keep your-



3.) Advice to yourself. The truth is that no matter how many money-saving tips you give me I’ll still be broke. We don’t go to movies or own any video-games. My phone is the free one I got with the “it’s-the-cheapest” plan, and the reason we have cell-phones is so we don’t get stranded on the side of the road when the POS decides to take a sh*t in our Corn Flakes. If it has nothing to do with survival then I don’t have it. “How are you on the internet? It isn’t a necessity.” If I couldn’t get away from reality the survival of my family would be in jeopardy. Try the whole “unplugged” thing and see how you feel.


Peanut Butter is in Kindergarten and he -- somehow --needs more school supplies. My bras have had the under-wires removed because they were jabbing me in the armpits. Survey says? The markers have it, and I pray to God that none of the kids notice they’re not Crayola. I make decisions like this every day. Gasoline or diapers? Electricity or phone? The gas light is on and my phone is shut off.


4.) Asking For Help Sucks: DHS employees may be wonderful people but when they’re at work they’re demi-gods, handing out favor on a whim. I’ve sat in waiting rooms for hours while my children get progressively agitated and I end up pulling out a bag of Cheese Doodles to keep them occupied. When I finally see someone we step back into their cubicle and they ask me about everything except our underwear sizes. As long as I’ve brought everything, we’ll get benefits. I have to drop off EVERYTHING in person, they NEVER answer the phone and every six months they’ll want an update, so I keep EVERYTHING.


5.) Inappropriate Questions: “Who’s watching your kids?” “Who’s the Baby’s Daddy, and where is he?” I don’t reply because if I did I would succumb to The Rage, but here are the answers: I’m married, all of my children are my husband’s and right now he’s at home changing diapers.

Despite the fact that being broke sucks, there are upsides. When the economic crisis came my family had better coping mechanisms for it than going on a homicidal rampage at Wal-Mart. To get the job I have I’ve had to work twice as hard to get half as much respect as a man, so I work four times as hard and am now The Bad Ass. As far as the rest of the company is concerned, I chew up old smoke detectors and spit out tactical nuclear devices. When people need help they know who to call and it isn’t “Ghostbusters!” My kids will learn to be the opposite of these other over-entitled asshats through our example. And really, love doesn’t actually require that we have money in our checking account, right?

And as a side note: thanks, Lydia and Kate, for writing as honestly as you do about motherhood! You’ve given me some comfort, knowing that I’m not the only one who loses their Schmidt!

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The awesome people at Sweet Relish are working with us to help moms in need this holiday season. They will donate $1 in gift cards for every person who joins their site and follows me (up to $5,000!!). If you're too busy or too broke to help to a family in need this year, here is one really quick and easy way to help.  It only takes a minute and is really useful and fun.

To join Sweet Relish and follow me, click here.



(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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