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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