Scrolling through my Facebook updates, I noticed this picture:
Now, I’m going to explain why this picture annoys me but before I do that, I’m going to make something very clear.
I am a single mother of a two year old. I work 40 hours a week. My earnings fall below poverty level. I attended college. I do not partake in illegal activities of any kind. Even with child-support, I barely make ends meet. I have gone on two vacations in the last 6 months on the generous dime of a family member. I drive a ’96 Jeep Laredo which is on its last leg. I have the same cell phone I’ve had for two years which is also on its last leg. I shop at Save-A-Lot and Aldi’s because PriceChopper is too expensive.
BUT I am not on welfare. I do not take nor have I applied for any sort of government assistance. The child-support I receive is not court ordered and more than likely, less than what my son should be receiving BUT he receives something and for that I am grateful. I do not apply for government assistance because I am an able bodied adult and even though it gets pretty damn tight at times – I know that as long as I have milk in my fridge and my son has diapers – everything else can wait.
That being said – this picture annoys me for one single reason. There is a stigma that if a woman has a child and she DOES apply for assistance, it is because she is a lazy ass who made the “mistake” of having a child. She had a child she cannot fully support on her own. “Well, don’t make babies if you can’t support them.” That’s a common response but before you have that thought, remember that not every woman got knocked up carelessly. Some women, many women for that matter (this one included) were married, engaged, in a committed relationship. Many women PLANNED their conception. Many women believed they were in it for the long haul with their partner before making the choice to birth a child. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out.
In a good case, the father pays money to help and visits with his child. In a lot of cases, the guy disappears. Or he lives in a four bedroom house while his ex has to downgrade to a one bedroom for her and her child to survive. Either way, the woman is left to fend for herself and her child while the man has no real obligation. And if you disagree with me – check yourself because no one is making bumper stickers about men supporting their children…financially, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Despite it all – I am still a lucky case. Despite my struggles, my son is taken care of. Despite us not being able to save our marriage, my sons father and I know that our son is the most important entity in our lives and we will do everything in our power to provide. It is always an even distribution of work and sacrifice? No. Is it fair? No. Will it stop me from being a damned good mother despite circumstance? FUCK NO.
If I drove up behind this car, I’d have a moment. A big F.U. moment. Because rather than telling our men to stick by their families, to care about whether they have created a life or not…we are telling our women that if they end up with a child and no support – no one cares. We are telling the children of struggling mothers that they don’t have a father and society dislikes them because they are a burden. That’s a shitty message and it’s nothing to be proud of.
Yes, there are people who abuse the system. There are also people who need the system. So fuck you for your self-righteousness if you are one those people who finds a positive message in that image. I pay taxes and I hope that my tax dollars can help a mother who IS less fortunate than I am, which is not a far cry from where I stand. Not for her. But for her children.
It takes a village to raise a child. I’ll be damned if I’m going to complain about doing my part.