- The only thing you have for your breakfast is Pizza Rolls. Sure, there are a couple of other things lying around, but those have to be saved for the baby's meals.
- You get gifts (such as digital cameras on Mother's Day) and insist they be taken back, because you know you won't have enough money to survive through the week.
- You dread even walking into a store, especially with your child. Not only do you have to walk right on by things you would love to have, but you have to pretend not to notice the tears welling up in his eyes for the shiny new bats and baseballs. "I know they're only $3, baby, but mommy didn't bring any money."
- You are forced to cram yourself, your child, and your significant other into your mother's small three bedroom house. It is a shameful and degrading feeling, but she swears she wouldn't know what to do without you. With only the meager rations of your partner, looking at other housing options is completely out of the question.
- You remember how on Easter you hoped and prayed that the baby would find the big prize egg at the egg hunt. You know, the one they cram $20 or $40 dollars in.
- You dig through your purse for the last $5 to put gas in the car. What is that - a gallon and a half? Let's hope it lasts for a couple of days. You could've always counted some change, but you used all that up yesterday for a gallon of milk.
- The one pair of sneakers your baby has are worn and dirty, and you yearn for the money to buy him a new shiny pair.
- You have been into a pawn shop more than a couple of times in the past 6 months, and you weren't looking to buy.
These are some of the many reasons I've decided to get a job. Of course, this is not the lowest point in my life; I have survived much worse. There was a time when there was no money for electric bills, and our only light during the night was the light from my laptop (which I have since had to sell in order to survive). There were days when we didn't have gas, and so we had to heat our bath water in a bucket on a plug-in burner, and cook our food on it, too. Those days are over, and I hope to never see them again. I have seen poverty. I have known poverty. I have felt poverty. Poverty is not a place I plan on going ever again, but I'm about as close as you can get without crossing the line.
I don't get to work my 40 hours a week in a glam office at a top notch firm with internet access and my own comfortable desk chair. I spend my 40 hours a week standing on my feet, taking the money of the people with those comfortable jobs, and using it to pay for their gas and snacks they buy in the store. I work at a gas station. I get a raise next week where I will be making $7.25/hr. I'm not ashamed of this. I'm damn proud to be a working mom. I'm proud to stand on my feet all day in order to buy my baby that new pair of shoes. I yearn to get a couple of paychecks in so that I can start looking around for some other type of housing, and even if I have to move into a low income unit somewhere I will still be proud, because I am working for it. Little by little I will build myself back up, and I will prove to my son that we can do it without his daddy. I will prove to his father that we didn't really need those measly $175 a month child support payments that he never bothered to send.
I will work this job until I can get a better one. I will stand on my feet and work my arse off for the rest of my life if that's what it takes, because I've had a taste of poverty before, and I never want it on my plate again.