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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Poverty & Parenting

I have found myself in some very difficult choices as a single mom that poverty has played a strong roll in my choices. I am sure these choices don't always apply just to single parents. When my children were growing up for the first 11yrs I was faced continuously with the choice of being a stay at home mom or a working mom. I weighed these choices very heavily. I had felt that my children already had one parent leave & if I went back to work would I be abandoning them as well as my time for them would be limited. I have always felt that my children had never asked to come into this world & it was my responsibility to take care of them the best way I could. I also thought about my income & what it would cost to put them in daycare to be raised by strangers. I felt that more than half of what I would be qualified to make would go to daycare so was it really worth having someone else raise my children.

 I choose to stay on welfare and this came with many sacrifices. I was now labelled a welfare bump because I must be lazy not to go to work, but if you have ever been a stay at home mom you know it is in name only because children require allot of work because after all they are an investment into our future.

Society though in the whole only sees the welfare lines and what the call the bums I don't know if they will ever look past the faces to see the person. I fully agree that the system is broken & is more like a band aid because the real issues these people are facing are not being addressed because of the blindness.

By the time my children were in Grade 1 & 2 I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. I remember going to the specialist as he had called me in. I was sitting at the other side of the desk when he told me the word cancer & that I had some choices to make that is all I remember about that visit. I walked down to my car just shaking I got behind the steering wheel & there was no way I could drive I sat there and bald as I thought what this meant. Single Parent what happens to my children if this is my time, I didn't want them going to their fathers as he didn't care enough for them to stick around so how could he have their best interests at heart. I screamed out to God, as I had recently become a Christian, Why, what am I going to do, this is the first time I had felt the power of God come over me & he had given me a peace that transcends understanding. God had given me the peace that it would be ok it was in his hands.  I had the surgery three months later & they were able to get it all. Praise God!

When both of my children were at school age & my mom had rescued us out of low cost housing. I went down to the welfare office with a plan to get myself off the system & out of poverty. When I got there I sat down with my welfare worker and told her the plan. My plan was to go back to school to become a teachers aid as I by then had personal experience with Autism & had taken many wait list training while waiting for support for my child, so it looked like a perfect fit. I thought if they could just cont. to help with my shelter & food costs until I finished school I could pick myself back up again, especially at that time there was a shortage of Aides in the school with Autism knowledge. I was stunned to be told if I was to apply for school I would be cut off of welfare & why would I want to because my son was special needs I had no worries till he turned 19 they would support me....wow...I was shocked because I thought the purpose of the system was to get you on your feet & was a short term solution. Well from there I went home & talked with my mom & she said we would figure out how we could manage, things would be much tighter but we would try.

 I went to school I found out that I needed to get one course first before entering into a University program & it would be free & there was a grant for the cost of my text books. I completed that course with a B+ and finally started thinking I wasn't that dumb as I always thought, but just before I finished the course my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas.

Our whole lives would be changed. My mom went for surgery where they did a mastectomy & had to remove 17 limphnoids , I no I am probably not spelling it right. She came out of it with limited function of her right arm & considering she was right handed this complicated allot of things, though I praise God that I still have my mom. My mom was a bookkeeper by trade & loosing the use of her right arm meant she could no longer do her job that she had been doing over 20 yrs. I was now faced with having going to school put on the back burner.

My mom & my roles were now being reversed she would be staying home with the kids well I found employment to support us, there was one complication all I qualified for was fast food restaurants. I got a job at a fast food place but the income was not really enough to raise a growing family & was half the income my mom had been bringing in. We had to go through some major growing pains as we needed to adjust.

Moving on to the next choice. Now as a working Single Parent I was faced with many choices of  when the kids are sick & need me do I have the ability to stay home & nurture them back to health or does that mean we lose the house, the guilt that I would feel when they would cry mommy don't go but I knew I didn't have a choice. I would be torn up inside and there was no one to turn to for support emotionally as no one understood me and what was on my heart. I would only be criticized for my feelings and the poverty of being would only grow.

I would also be faced with teachers interviews or parent functions at school that would be at the same time I was working & couldn't afford time off work and would see the hurt & disappointed in the eyes of my children. as all their friends parents would be there. The poverty of being would grow.

 I had a Saviour but I didn't really understand back then what that meant for my whole life.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Mathew 6:24-26 (NIV)

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