I cross posted this at My Left Wing
which is a FABULOUS blog. It was promptly frontpaged and I thoughtlessly forgot to provide a link. I love MLW because MSOC seems to always know what is most important to us all.
Also cross posted at Texas Kaos
My son asks me, "Mom, are we poor?"
I tell him, "No. We aren't poor. We're middle class."
I don't know where the line is that one crosses from middle class to poor but I fear that I crossed it some time ago.
I go to work everyday and I work all day long at a fairly high level job where I have an oppressive amount of responsibility. You might think that, at such a job, I would earn enough to take care of my family and myself. You would be wrong
There is no trickle down
here. For the past several years the only raise came in the form of a merit increase rather than an across the board cost-of-living raise. Merit increases are given at the discretion of top administrators who always take the lion's share for themselves leaving only a very tiny bit to get distributed to the filthy masses. A 2% merit increase for me = about $40 a month. A 2% merit increase at the top = $420 a month. There has only been one merit increase since 2004.
There is no money for daycare so I take my son to work with me four days a week and live with the constant dread that someone might complain. One day a week, he stays with another family, which costs me $36.00. My other option, leaving him home alone, hasn't worked out well at all. He gets scared and panics. He calls repeatedly, often in tears, apologizing for his failing. I tell him it is society's failing not his.
There is no money for the dental work my son needs. April 2005, he knocked a front tooth almost, but not quite, out. The dentist decided it was broken and had to be pulled but upon removing the tooth, he saw that it was fine so he put it back in. He pulled a perfectly good tooth and charged me $1,000 for it.
The tooth then needed a special root canal for another $1,200.
A few months ago, we learned that the root canal did not work and eventually, in a year or two, the tooth will have to be pulled, AGAIN. The dentist recommends a $5,000 implant.
In the meantime, his permanent teeth are growing in but his baby teeth haven't yet vacated his mouth. I can't even think about that because I just finished paying for the pulling of the perfectly good $2,200 tooth that he won't get to keep.
When people on this site admonish others for making the choices that brought them misfortune, I have to admit that I haven't always made the wisest choices.
In the 1990s, I earned, with my benefit package, a near six-figure income. I bought a beautiful house all on my own, took a few vacations and gave my older, now grown son, ample enrichment opportunities. Later, my husband went to school, bought a truck, bought equipment, and started a new business while I worked and paid for it all.
When we moved to the country in pursuit of a life-long dream, I thought everything would be fine. I could get a job in the small town making a lot less money but my husband would be making a lot more. Things should even out nicely. It's what we all wanted.
It was a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be. I put buckets of blood, sweat, and tears into the physical labor it took to move onto land where no human had ever lived in recent history. It's a different, more satisfying kind of work than turning out a great report or reducing the company's bottom line. You can step back and see the difference immediately. I loved it!
It was all just too much for my husband. He didn't want to work that hard physically, mentally, emotionally... He's been gone physically for over four years now but he left long before that. We haven't heard a word from him since I called April 2005 to tell him that his son was having oral surgery.
I read Smart Women Foolish Choices and I still continue to make foolish choices. People make mistakes. Beware of judging others lest you be given the opportunity to see how you might handle a similar situation and therefore be judged yourself.
Stubbornly, I have clung to this land believing that a strong, smart, hard-working woman should be able to find some way to make it here. I sit in this 1984 trailer house that I paid $10,000 for ten years ago as a temporary dwelling until we built our dream home. The lights no longer work in three rooms. My bathtub cracked this week and water leaked all over the floor. It's not a pretty sight.
We will be okay if my 1994 Acura will keep running a little longer, if nobody gets sick or hurt and if my son's baby teeth will give up. I am trying to sell everything and maybe I will come out with enough to move somewhere else. Maybe I can find a place to live where people are more like us. Maybe there will be a good job where I can contribute and make a difference.
I know that I'm luckier than most but, right now when a little boy FEELS impoverished and alone, even though you tell him he's not, it's hard to feel lucky.
When a mother goes to work every day and works all day long, she should be able to take care of her family. That is a family value!
When I dare to hope, I hope that November we will elect some good leaders who will fight for my son and for me. This is why I work so hard here and here and here. That is why I give everything I can spare in donations. It is true that "They Also Serve Who Only Sit and Write." But we also have to invest in our government by donating..
We have to make things right again. Fear of what will happen to us all if we don't is my true motivator. I'm almost out of hope and I don't know how much longer I can hold on. I am placing all my hope on November.