Dear Judgmental American’s,
Lately I have heard in the news how many Southern states want their individuals on Food Stamps and getting Unemployment to be drug tested. I have heard people talk about how the mom in front of them in the grocery line with her hair and nails done should not be using food stamps, which is none of their business of course. I have heard how people that don’t need Medicaid complain about children and adults that need the medical coverage getting the medical coverage. I have heard several times that women that get child support should not be allowed to do this or that or the other. I have a message for you people, some of you are my friends, and you are talking about me.
I am a single mother of three children, two of which are special needs. In 2011, I lost my full time job through no fault of my own. All I can say is God knew what was best for me because at that time my life was stagnant and he recognized it but I didn’t and he had to step in and intercede on my behalf. I believe this. I have lived without medical coverage now for over a year, if I were to get sick and have to hospitalized, guess what, the hospital can ask the government to pay my bill, i.e. your tax dollars still pay for my medical. Thank God I’m a healthy person. I have depended on Snap benefits for the past year to ensure that my children do not go hungry because I have no disposable income like many American’s today with children. I shop on sale racks and buy markdown clothing to make sure that my children have the things necessary. The reality is that I coupon to ensure that we have all that we need from bath soap to laundry detergent. I have served my country, I have worked in healthcare, I have driven your children’s school bus getting up at 4 am to make sure that I was at work on time, and I have worked hard to ensure that families with children with disabilities are not out in the cold waiting on someone to give them bread crumbs to lead the way. I am the single mother that receives child support to help pay for my children’s room and board. I am the mother that drives to Columbia once every six months to ensure that my children see their developmental pediatrician and to the neighboring town weekly to take my kids to therapy so that they can grow up to be productive members of society. I am the mom that goes to school Monday through Friday and works part time to make ends meet, i.e. I am described as underemployed. I am the mother that has now been on 52 job interviews and was only hired on one job and told by many of the other’s, “You are over qualified.”
I’m not asking for a hand out, I’m out seeking employment, I’m not on drugs; I can’t afford to be. I have worked hard since I was 16 years old. I am going to school at present in NC, but what does my state tell me, “If you get a full time job, you have to quit school or you could go to school where we send you to get a trade and that way you won’t have to search for a job while you are underemployed.” What a load of crap. I have real responsibilities and real issues that I deal with day in and day out. I listen to the back and forth about what a real woman is and the assumptions that are made about people like me and at the end of the day a real woman knows struggle. A real woman knows how to make a meal out of $4. A real woman knows how it feels to get your paycheck on Friday and not have any money left on Saturday because you had to buy clothes, shoes, over the counter meds, and pay school fees. A real woman knows how it feels to live paycheck to paycheck. A real woman digs in and grits her teeth and keeps pushing because that is what you have to do to survive. A real woman does what she has to for herself and her family without complaining about what someone else’s life choices are.
What you think women like me do!
Your statements do not insult me; your statements sadden me because you could be me. I am saddened because you look at women like me and you don’t know what I deal with and yet you pass judgment on me for taking care of my children the best way I know how and you seem to think that I sit at home all day and do nothing. You look at women like me and you only see that I am a woman with children. You don’t see that I struggle to put in gas every week to get my kids to appointments when my budget doesn’t balance right. You don’t see the woman that volunteers at my children’s schools or goes outside with them so that they do get in some activity. You don’t see the woman that sits with them to do homework while doing my own homework to maintain my 3.5 GPA. You don’t see the woman that is the first face that they see in the morning and the last face that they see at night. You don’t see me as the woman that no matter what I make sure that they eat healthy and bake them sweet treats to celebrate good grades, good weeks, or just being able to be alive to face a new day. You don’t see the woman that prays for my children, myself, and you when I go to bed and when I wake in the morning. You admonish me for being a single parent. News flash, all single parents are not single parents because they chose to be. I was married once; ask him and his girlfriend how that story ended.
What women like me really do!
My message to you on here on Labor Day is that you should never, ever pass judgment or assume because the person that you post those photos on Facebook about or talks about getting drug tested is me. It is the person that you engage with in random conversation. It is the person that you exchange witty quips with. You are talking about people like me that may not speak up and say that you are talking about them, but guess what, it could be you and I stand there and pray that you never have my experience. Now, yes I have put my business out there. Not because I want you to feel sorry for me, NOPE. I put it out there because I could be you next month, next year. I put it out there because I am an advocate for people like me. I put my story out there because right now we hear the stories of people that are working poor and middle class and the people like me that want to work, but aren’t getting hired for full time employment are getting lost and individuals are making assumptions about people like me. Nothing in this life is certain. Nothing in this life is 100%. We all get up and put our pants on one leg at a time and we all have our crosses to bear. So next time you think about the conversation that you engage in, think about the statements or pictures you post on Social Media sites, think about the person that you are talking about or talking to and remember that I could be you. Remember that we are in troubled times and the job that you convent and go to every day could be gone next week. Being a hypocrite does not help others and it does not help you, it only makes you bitter. So do me a solid, reach down and help someone that you know is struggling by offering a kind word, a can of beans, or to babysit while they take a breather. Make a donation to your local soup kitchen or help center. People are not comfortable being unable to provide for their families, I hear the stories everyday, and what little you do help with, goes a long way. Do it to honor me. Because even given my present financial state, I still find time to give back, I still find time to fight, I still find time to show my children that we do not have to be beaten down by our circumstances, we can continue to believe that our season will come around and that things happen for a reason. I still find time to help others. I still find time to be a decent human being. Can you say the same for yourself?