Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On Being Poor & "Must Be Nice"

Possibly I'm extra emotional about this today because my kitchen is a disgusting mess*. I grew up with a kitchen that was a perpetual disgusting mess, and this is dredging up all sorts of childhood unpleasantness. But I don't want to talk about messy kitchens, I want to talk about being poor (and yes, I recognize that there are plenty of poor people with clean, not disgusting kitchens).

This post was sparked by a couple of threads on my birth board, but I already know it's going to be waaaay too long for Babycenter, which is why I'm putting it here - that, and I'm not really looking for advice.

The first thing, was the assertion that poor people don't home school - and by extension, poor kids don't get home schooled (and have better access to post secondary, more opportunities, etc, etc.).  The second was a comment basically saying that parents who advocate no screen time for toddlers must have hired help to prepare their meals and clean their house.

To both opinions, let me just say, Fuck you.

I hate this attitude that if you make decisions for the benefit of your family (and I have no intention here to wax poetic on the joys** of being homeschooled, or the evils of watching TV - not what I'm getting at right now), if you make sacrifices and take what you believe to be the high road / better path / worthwhile detour / what the hell ever - then, somehow, you must have had the cards stacked in your favour. You must be some sheltered, middle class, lucky bastard, because how else would you avoid handing your toddler a tablet? How else could you make decisions regarding your kids' education on anything other than convenience?

I was raised poor. Dirt fucking poor (and yet, still nowhere near as poor as a lot of kids elsewhere in the world. This isn't a pity party). So poor that Mr. Wolfman, after being with me for 5 years, is still shocked by stories from my childhood. We were frequently without food, hot water and heat. I took out massive student loans to go to university, loans which, 10 years and no degree later, still haunt me.

So the it must be nice attitude really gets to me.  Because everything I have (not a lot, materially speaking), I worked for. We have a nice, modest apartment, nicer than anywhere I've ever lived before. We have heat, hot water and food on the table - and honestly, those things alone make this the best living situation I've ever had. Mr. Wolfman and I have worked hard for this, and we work hard to raise the Monster the best way we can.

So yeah, it is nice that we have a child who can entertain himself (usually) long enough for us to cook dinner, but then, we raised him that way. And yes, it is nice that I've been able to spend as much time home with him as I have, but I worked and saved and budgeted to be able to do that, and now that that option is no longer financially viable, I'm looking for work.

I'm sure it's nice for those parents who want to home school to do that, but I'm equally sure that it's not without sacrifice. It's not an option that's just magically available to them; they have to work for it. Just like I'll work to get the monster into extra curriculars, just like Mr. Wolfman and I will always work, as hard as we need to, to do what we feel is best for our child(ren).

So you can take your hired help and well-off theories and shove them up your ass. If you want something in this world, you have to be willing to work for it. At least that's how it's always been for me.

*My dishwasher broke and sprayed dirty food all over the load that was in there. I thought it was a freak thing, and tried again... so now there are 3 loads worth of dishes piled on the counter, 1 that came out dirty and 2 that built up during attempts to get the first load clean.  And yeah, I could wash them by hand, but I actually feel an anxiety attack coming on every time I go in the kitchen, right now.

**in my opinion, all but nonexistent

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