November 5, 2010

Shut Up and Eat

"I'd like to have money. 
And I'd like to be a good writer. 
These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, 
I'd rather have money." 

There are some things you just don't talk about.

You are supposed to keep your mouth shut about a select few topics, including religion, politics, the state of your marriage, and money. We tell ourselves that it's no one's business, but if we're really honest about it, we are just too embarrassed to talk about any of them. So we act like we always have enough money, our marriages are perfect, we profess to believe in God but not tie ourselves to any particular religion, and we don't dare swing too far towards Democrat or Republican unless we're in a voting booth.

However, real life is much more than what people see. So no one would ever announce they are on food stamps even though it's everywhere- 1 in 8 people, and half of the kids in the United States use them. I liked how one website oversimplified it- "It helps poor people buy groceries." Poor people. One in eight people means I know several who are using assistance to get by, but not a single person has ever confided that to me. I don't think the shame or stigma should be there- especially not anymore.

The thing is, so many people now are 'poor people', myself included. So when the mail came today, I was near tears when I saw the letter from the state of Illinois, which informed me that my family had qualified and would receive X amount every month to buy milk, or hamburger meat, or cereal, or whatever else we need to stock our cabinets and our refrigerator. We had calculated how much money we would have from Sky's paycheck, and were not sure if it would cover simple things, like paying all of our bills. There would definitely not be anything left for any trips to Wal-mart for toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and food.

There are people who disagree with the whole concept of food stamps, or any assistance from anyone at any time. I can only assume those people have never been in my position. There have been times where I wouldn't  have eaten dinner if one of my parents hadn't helped me, and most of those times, they weren't even aware of the kind of help I needed. Sometimes a meal out with one of them meant I could exhale and not worry about what I had or didn't have at home. Now that Amelia's here and I'll be stocking up on little glass jars from Gerber soon, it's even more important that I get this. I think I would be a worse parent if I didn't, to be honest.

So I'm not embarrassed. I'm humbled, but I'm so very grateful.

4 kind comments from you:

Dolli-Mama said...

:) -weak smile.

I once had to call 3 different food banks/church pantrys to find enough food for my husband and I to eat for a week. It was 2 weeks before christmas. We ate a lot of ramen noodles our first year of marriage.

I completely agree that this makes you a better, more responsible parent. You are right, a lot of us have been there. You are very brave and I know you are doing the best you can.

You are a WONDERFUL mother and Amelia is one lucky baby to have you.

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

When not abused, I think its such a great blessing to have.

____j said...

There is definitely nothing to be embarrassed about. And you're right SOOO many people need it/use it. I'm so glad you're getting what you need. Sure does help lift a little worry off your shoulders, doesn't it?

Gaile said...

Been there, done that! Thankfully I was able to use assistance the way it was intended: to help me stand on my own two feet :)

I agree that the stigma should not be there - I think it exists mainly because of the vast number of people who abuse the program (and WIC, and cash aid, etc). There are so many people who use welfare, in one form or another, as their long-term financial plan.

If I should ever find myself in need again, I hope I can again keep the assistance short-term, if only so that someone else can benefit from the program when I don't need it any more.

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