Monday, December 2, 2013

being poor

I've been poor a lot of my life.

I remember when my mom and my dad first got divorced in 1972.  Not a great year to be a single mom.  I slept in a crib until I was 4.  I remember eating oatmeal for dinner.  Because it was what we had.

There were lots of years with enough.  My mom worked when she didn't always need to so I could have dance lessons or voice lessons.  But in high school my step dad was in construction so there were lots of lean times while we waited to get paid.  I learned how to eat from a garden.  And cook weird cuts of meat you only get when you butcher your own hog.  Or get paid by a farmer in half a hog instead of actual money.

When I got married the first time, we didn't manage money well.  We struggled financially but it was our own doing.  We learned from it, I guess.  Then my ex-husband lost his job and has been underemployed ever since.

Somehow in the past 9 months, he's decided it's OK to not pay his child support.  His whopping $200 a month for 6 kids child support.  Granted, we have joint custody.  But I paid for all the haircuts.  The new shoes.  The school supplies.  Now I don't even get his help with that.

And my husband doesn't make enough money at his job.  The child support he pays is $1000. He makes a little more than that each month.  So that leaves me to earn the bulk of our income.  In the past 18 months we have gone through my retirement.  Through my savings.  Not living extravagantly.  Just living.  We have never taken my kids to a restaurant for a meal.  I've taken all 6 of them to Carl's Jr once in the past 18 months.  There is just no money for dining out.  We aren't starving.

We get food stamps.  And I am very good at budgeting that money.  I'm thankful that I know which cuts of meat are cheaper and how to prepare them.  I know how to do a lot from scratch.  I know how to use leftovers so food doesn't get wasted.  I'm so thankful for all I know.  So even though the bank account is nearly empty, we can sit down to a good meal and enjoy each other's company.  I can have snacks for my kids.  I'm thankful for that.  It makes a holiday like Thanksgiving go by without a hitch.  I can do a big meal with lots of family togetherness.

What I can't handle is the next holiday that is coming.  Watching Christmas specials with my kids leaves me in a puddle of tears.  I don't want to give them the world.  Or even electronics.  That's not the family we are these days.  I want to just be able to give them something. And today I don't know where the money will come from for that.  I really don't.

We have depleted the savings.  All of the extra money will soon be spent to pay this month's bills.  I don't know how we will pay our rent in January.  I believe that God is faithful.  I do.  I have seen Him come through for us time and again.  I like having a few hundred dollars in the bank for just in case.  Or to know that if I don't work enough hours, we will have something to fall back on.  I don't have any work scheduled after January 2.  Nothing.  No work.  No income.

My husband has been trying to get another job where he earns enough for the 14 months we have been married.  Doors keep closing.  He is discouraged to put it mildly.

I keep waiting for the change that I expect to come.  It's not coming.  All that's coming is tears.

I'm used to being poor.  I don't mind going without.  I don't mind having second hand furniture.  I don't mind shopping for my clothes at Goodwill.

But I just want to know that there will be enough.  Enough to buy my kids some things for Christmas.  Enough to pay the bills.  Enough for my husband to visit his children.  Enough work to pay the bills.  Enough faith to hold on another day.  I only ask for enough.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the one where I blame my step-mom

This step-parenting thing is so much harder than she made it look.  My step-mom started dating my dad when I was 5 I think.  They got married just after I turned 7.  Yes, she has been around most of my life.  Yes, I was still young and cute when they started out together.  I was easy to like if I don't say so myself.  :)  But she was just always there, with my dad, a part of my life.  I know I caused her grief.  I know there were times when she struggled with how to parent me.  But she did a really good job of being an adult in my life that loved me, was interested in me, shared herself with me.

How did she do it?!  I can't figure out the step-mothering part of my life right now.  Yes, my step-children are miles and miles away.  I have met the oldest one only twice.  I don't know how to build a relationship with her.  The younger 2 I spent some time with before their dad moved, before we were married.  I have only seen them once since.  Their dad goes to visit and I stay here.

The plan is for them to finally venture to our house this summer.  I'm nervous already and it's months away.  Even when I think we are on good terms and things are OK, I get a text, have a conversation where I am reminded that I am still very much on the outside.

I don't feel bad feelings from them.  I just feel nothing from them.  I don't know how to go deeper.  I don't know how my step-mom did it.  But she did.  She is a grandmother to my kids just like the 2 other grandmothers they have.  They know no difference.  But how do we get to that point?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

an update

I feel like I have so much more to share but before I do, maybe I should make clear all that has happened since I last posted.

The last time I posted here I was waiting for my divorce to be final.  I went to court alone.  To the "default hearing".  Default because TFOMC had been notified that I had filed papers and yet he never did anything for the court.  I still don't know if he ever went to the parenting class or not.

My divorce was FINALLY final on September 6.  I kept hearing Taylor Swift's song "We are Never Getting Back Together" on the radio that day.  Appropriate, I guess.

On September 7 I flew to Houston to meet my SO.  That night he proposed.  I knew it was coming but I didn't expect it that night.

I knew it was coming because on September 8 we packed all of his belongings into a truck and started the journey to Denver.  (Texas is a HUGE state to drive through, btw!)  We arrived in Denver on September 10 to get him settled into this little house with me.  We were married on September 13.

A lot happened in a short amount of time.  But I knew it would.  My kids have now lived with this man that is their step-father for over 4 months.  They had met him only once before that.  That's been a big adjustment.  I am married to a man I absolutely adore.  He gets me.  He cares for me and shows me a dozen times a day.  He is my best friend.  It's weird.

I didn't grow up seeing lots of great marriages.  My mom was married for the third time when I was 11. I know some of my friends' parents had great marriages, but I wasn't around often enough to see how that really looked and worked.  I've had friends that have had great marriages.  And honestly, I was mostly skeptical that they could be that happy and not lying or drunk most of the time.

So now I have "that" marriage.   The happy one.  The one where I can't wait for a "date night".  The one where I can't wait for him to get home from work.  The one where I am so happy to just sit and be with him.

And it's hard.  Because now I have "that" marriage.  The one where I need to be honest about how I feel.  The one where I need to share my struggles and hurts to maintain the closeness we have.  The one where I need to not push him away when it gets hard but let him draw me to him.

I've been married for almost 5 months now.  It's beautiful.  It's amazing.  It is how it's supposed to be.  And I am at peace.