Stand Up and Step Up

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Being a single parent is hard work.  I would know.  Divorced and all of that hoopla, it happens, and unfortunately is pretty common.  I was not the best mom at first, I had to fight with my new found freedom and learn how to do everything on my own again while dealing with active Crohns Disease.

It took me a bit, a year of fucking up to be exact, but I did it.  I stay out of the bars (except for  a rare and precious night out… which I usually stay sober for.  Whodathunk?), I save my money, and I work on spending time with my family and providing a wonderful life for my daughter.  It’s hard work, it really is.  But to know that I am completely 100% self-sustained and my daughter doesn’t want for anything (beyond “ICE CREAM MAN MOOOOM”) makes me proud.  I’ve done it all on my own, and now my home is even more stable and loving with Ryan in it.  You all know how messed up my thinking had got there for a while.  I’ll admit it, purely to prove that you can get through it.  Especially if you have kids.  Because of that though, I’m pretty tough on other single moms.

I’m sure you know the stereotype.  Mom with a scraggly looking kid, standing in line at the welfare office, nails done, hair dyed, brand spanking new iPhone5 in her hand.  I *hate* that stereotype.  Actually, hate is a pretty mild way of putting it.  I do everything I can to not be that mom.  I busted my ass to get on my own two feet and give my daughter a better life.  I just want to scream when I see it, or even more so when people are surprised that a young mom like me isn’t on welfare.

I have nothing against welfare, I truly don’t.  I used SNAP benefits for 6 months after I threw my ex-husband out.  Later on I lost a job and used SNAP benefits for a little over a month.  Welfare is there as a step up, to give you that hand that you need when you’re super down on your luck.  Without those benefits, food was too expensive to pay for and my utilities fell behind.  It’s useful, it’s there for you to use.

However, it’s not there for you to live on.

When I met Ry, him and his ex-wife had officially parted ways (after being separated for months) a couple months before.  It seems really amicable, everyone got along.  I was on “Team-Single-Mom”, I felt for her, even though her ex still was very active in her child’s life… I could understand.  As time passed, real attitudes and personalities started coming out and I distanced myself.  I didn’t want to be that woman who picked fights with an ex-wife.  It’s annoying, and I’m an ex-wife too, I could still understand… couldn’t I?

I tried really hard to keep my mouth shut but after awhile I started piping up.  During her days, her son stayed at his grandmothers house.  She had claimed she was working long hours at the bar, but after a little investigating (the whole knowing everyone thing comes in handy) we found out she spent equal time drinking.  I still tried to remind myself, freedom is delicious after a failed marriage.  I still liked going to the bar… I tried to forget the fact that I came home every night and never left before the kiddo was fast asleep and tucked in.

One day, her son told me, “I miss my mom, I haven’t seen her in more than a week.” The judgement was made.  It was final.  I was not a fan.  Yes, I went out, a lot even.  I got that, I understood that more than anyone else could… but I still spent every moment I possibly could with my daughter.  Hell, I *STILL* get upset when Nood goes to school/summer camp.  Anyone who could leave their kid “because it was easier” at their parents for days on end was not cool in my book.

I gave up on beating that horse.  It’s been two years and he still sees his grandmother more than his mom.  I finally just resigned myself to this thought… when her son grows up, he’ll find out the truth eventually.  Then the only person she’ll have to face is the shame from her own kid.  She just has to grow up.

So then the “gimme-gimmes” started.  I’ve always offered to buy clothes or his baseball shit, but we started getting calls for random stuff.  The latest was six-flags passes.  I finally had to put my foot down.  Absolutely-fucking-not.

We don’t splurge like that in my household, I am not splurging like that outside of it.  Maybe when the kids get older, but right now it’s not a necessity, and it’s not in my budget.  She then started harping on how we should pay for school registration… after we paid for the school supplies (she was supposed to pay registration).  She says $180 is too much for her.  Considering I pay $180 a week for daycare/summer camp (It was $190 for Kindergarten), I don’t have too much sympathy, I still have to pay Noodle’s school registration for next year next week.

So I snapped.  I told her that since she is on food stamps (3 plus years now), gets medical, free childcare and free utilities she will be fine.  I am more than willing to help her if she ever gets her own utilities and falls behind not to mention anything the kiddo needs.  Needs, not wants.  I have no problem splurging for wants, but money isn’t growing on a tree here.  I can’t pay for things like passes, when I have bills to pay.

I told her that if she can present me with a literal bill or invoice (for things like baseball, school, supplies, etc) I will pay them, but I will not be giving her cold-hard-cash when she hasn’t gotten a job that can support her son yet.  As long as she’s on welfare, I will be paying anything the kid needs direct.  I am not a walking wallet, and I am *not* going to support a welfare mom.

I am sick and tired of it to be blunt.  I managed to pull myself up and fix my life, so can she.  Her son depends on it.  So unfortunately I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of calls or texts whining for money, but the difference is, I’m good at saying no.  I’m good at budgeting and I am well aware of what living within your means is.

I signed up for this to step up for the kids.  I signed up to love my family, not to give my hard earned paycheck for a night at the bar.  I hope this is a wake up call for her.  She needs to be a better mom, I know she can, she just has to step up and do it.  It’s going to be a long few months, but hopefully refusing to enable welfare-life gives her the reality-check she desperately needs.

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