Food Stamps don’t break a person. Judgment does.

“My father was a prideful man, and although he and I didn’t always see eye to eye – there is one thing that I saw in his eyes that will always stir up emotions inside me. Embarrassment for needing help.”

Growing up, it was my father, myself and two brothers. Here and there my grandparents would care for us when my father was unable. Saying my father was prideful is an understatement – something that he and I shared in common. He cared very much how others saw him or thought of him, what the whispers were behind his back and struggled with trying to withstand it all. So much so that every month we drove an hour or more out of the way, where no one knew us – to buy our groceries.

Being that my father was disabled, he received food stamps. At that point, food stamps came in a booklet, that you would tear out individually to buy food, almost like monopoly money for the less fortunate. For a gallon of milk, tearing out one stamp worth five dollars was not big deal – but buying groceries for a family of 4-6 was an ordeal. We all dreaded going to the store, but we would pile in and make a drive to a grocery store out of the way, every time.

Picturing my father’s face at the checkout stand still makes my heart heavy. Watching him look around to see if anyone was watching, hearing the remarks and witnessing the looks as the cashier would tear out each and every dollar amount laying it out on her stand as they used to do. There was not a non-discreet way of making you feel less embarrassed at that time. Sometimes, it felt as if they would do it to make a mockery of those that dependant on assistance. His ego was bruised every month, in front of his children, and there was nothing he could about it.

Now of course, at least where we are from, there is a card that you can swipe just like any debit card – except it says that its assistance on it. It’s less noticeable and easier for those that would rather not have everyone know. Being on assistance isn’t something people boast about, if they are prideful and honest people.

When I see someone in line purchasing groceries with a food card, I never think to myself “I’m paying taxes for you, get a job!” instead I think of my father. I find myself looking around to see if anyone is mocking them, or finding a creative way of blocking people from seeing them swipe their card, and always talk to them, give them extra time and remind them that I see them as a person – and nothing less.

Explain to me, how it is that the judgmental ones know what is going on in that persons life. Do they know why they receive assistance? Do they know how many children, disabled/foster/adopted or otherwise are at home? Or, whether they are caring for a elderly parent or family member, whether they live on social security or disability with only a $700 monthly income? I’m willing to guess not.

Think of this scenario which I know to be a fact. A food card recipient buys groceries as they normally would for the month. They learn of a church member who has fallen ill, they take from their monthly allotment to bake a meal, delivering it to their door offering up prayer for their family. They would care the same for you, as a whole, not your background, not what model of car you drive or type of home you live in. Life isn’t about those things – those will never matter in the end. How you treat people, will.

People talk without thinking, judge without blinking and compare more than we should, myself included. Though, it is natural to a certain extent, there is honest, moral guide within everyone that is severely damaged. Where do we draw the line, and remember the other is a person, a living breathing human being that was not only created by GOD, but is loved by GOD as well? Do you think GOD cares if you drive a beat up Chevy, a Mercedes or even a bike? No, he doesn’t care about material items. However, does he care that you are kind to the people around you? Absolutely!

There are situations where people take advantage of the system, and yes I agree that it is wrong. The ironic part of it, is that there are just as much “well off” people abusing it, as their are “lazy” people. Take sports for example, in our local community people will apply for scholarships to provide their child to participate – when it is more than possible for them to pay for not only their child but three others. People pretend to be less off, to get benefits – whether food, healthcare or otherwise. It’s simply not one sided, and it’s definitely not black or white.

Personally, I have friends on assistance that no one would ever guess were. People that they consider friends, eat meals with, go to when they need a shoulder to cry on, then lump them into their own labeled insufficient characteristics to gain a feeling of empowerment. For what? Do you judge the lady with three kids in front of you for using a food card? Do you judge the man wearing a suit, using a food card? Are they really compareable by their outward appearance, and are you really qualified to make those assumptions? Would you condemn or end a friendship with that person if they were your friend because you just can’t manage the thought of associating with such societal rejects?

In closing, yes there are people who get more than they deserve – and that will continue to happen throughout our lifetime. It isn’t for us to decide who deserves a free meal, a free doctors appointment or our general kindness. We are supposed to give the benefit of the doubt, turn the other cheek, treat people how you want to be treated, or better yet how you want your children to be treated. The next time your in line at a grocery store and the person in front of you is using a food card, think of how you would feel in their shoes. Instead of reciting a knee-jerk comment like “You’re welcome, lazy”, think for a moment, and offer some kindness – even if it’s just your silence.

A few facts about ADHD and where you can find support.

Recently a loved one of mine has been learning to live with a child that has ADHD. The more I hear about it the more I want to learn. Thankfully Judith from Support 4 Parents with Complex Children was friendly enough to share a few concepts for all interested.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is typically described as a child/ adult’s inability to sit still, focus, concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time. This is noticeable by almost everyone around them due to the excess energy, fidgeting, and bouncing from one subject/ project/ toy/ etc constantly.

Common Misconceptions:

Some say that ADHD is caused by:

  • food dyes
  • inconsistent parenting
  • discipline

and even some think it is not real at but an excuse made by parents and caregivers. These are all completely false and ADHD is a very real medical disorder that is much more common than many realize.

Adversities Children/Adults Face:

Some adversities those with ADHD face is difficulties in school with their inability to control themselves both physically and often emotionally causing many behavior problems including fights or suspensions for example.

Another challenge in making and maintaining friendships and social interactions successfully.

Treatments:

Treatment for ADHD can include medications, therapy, and an IEP  done at the child’s school to help the child be successful in a classroom setting.

 

For More information please visit Judith support page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/support4parentswithcomplexchildren

What people think of you, is none of your business ~

Its always the quiet moments, snuggling on the couch or even helping a child get dressed, that they drop your jaw to the floor with a harmless sharing moment. “Mommy and I have special, private words” said my proud stepson to me one night. With some conversations that are held with any of my children that begin during a time when inside my head I am already co-communicating with myself about the happenings of the day, a bill that needs to be paid or coming up with that all too perfect response to someone that chapped my butt earlier, I replied with the standard “Oh ya honey, that’s great! ” You know those moments if your a parent, when in all honesty you have tuned them out, but are such a great parent that you can still mumble an interactive response during the exact key moment. Moms are stealthy- trust me. Anyhow – he kept going and somewhere in between the ” ya, we can’t tell anyone else” or “mommy-blank, really doesn’t like you” I snapped out of my mommy tune out moment and quickly retorted with “wait- what honey, say that again”. He of course obliged because he simply loves talking and can literally talk from the moment he wakes, till he falls asleep – its that exciting to him. Quickly I am privy to the secret word, without having to ask and my head is in full explosion, along with the rapid acceleration of my heartbeat that wants nothing more than to leap out of chest and clobber this woman! And not because my name in her home is changed to Bitch!

Being called a bitch is not a new thing, trust me, I have heard it  and been it and at times proudly. The part that irks the ever living crap out of me is that she does this with him, a three year old little boy who simply wants to like and love, and be liked and love. “How dare she talk like that about me to him” I think to myself, “What gives her the right to have nothing better to do with her time than to sit and create pseudo name for me with him, to make herself feel better?” Then, the other part of my brain, the part that investigates the inner workings and tries to understand what led up to this point, the brief moment of where I give her the benefit of the doubt, like what she was doing was somehow warranted, which I can ASSURE was not – kicks in.

At this point little one is in bed, and my husband is getting the earful of “You’ll never guess what I heard tonight” which is of course is received and responded with a casual ” whats that” and he takes one more spin on his cellphone hoping for BIG money on Slotomania. Filling him in, I share the fear that I think all parents, especially stepparents carry – ” Do you think he gets in trouble for talking about me, or sharing stories about me?” “What if loving him, and spending time with him, is hurting him?” then my heart shatters in a sense. Of course, my husband oblivious to the guilt I am feeling and the actions I am seriously questioning, confirms my current fear that “of course he talks about you, he loves you, your his mom”. “Oh no” I think to myself and panic sets in. I make a silent vow to myself that, that’s it, no more – I will stop loving this little boy, I will pull back and not interact with him, and I won’t snuggle with him anymore, and I most definitely will not allow him to call me mommy any more – its JESSICA – Jessica is my name from now on. Heartbreak sets in deep within the pit of my stomach, feeling as if I just lost, gave up, gave in and I’m embarrassed of the tattered and torn super step-mom cape that I theoretically just through to the ground and jumped on over and over with anger and frustration and the dirtiest, most serious, heaviest step-mom shoes to make sure my mind got the point across to myself! After all, if this is what it takes to make my stepson unaffected, and safe then – that’s that.

All this interior battling and self esteem bashing, has made for a defeated and exhausted step-mom, and soon I’m asleep.  What feels like a few short hours later, I’m awakened by a small hand caressing my voice and a LOUD whispering voice asking “Mommy, can I snuggle you?” my half-opened eyes see my favorite little man – my stepson – in front of me. Without a second thought, I swoop him up and tuck him in tightly beside me. Facing me, he is still caressing my face and with his breathy whisper he says “Mommy, I love you” and kisses my cheek. My eyes close, and with him in my arms, I respond with “Mommy loves you too, baby, so much!”  I mean, who was I kidding anyway, this momma ain’t no quitter! (and yes, figuratively speaking, I did patch up any holes my stomping created, and bravely tied back on my super step-mom cape, with confidence.)

We as parents owe it to our kids to keep them out of our adult, manifested, diarrhea of the mouth (and some brains) situations. It is our job to love, to guide, to protect, and to be adults. It is not our job to be right, or to win, or even to judge the other parent when they obviously fail miserably at the most simplest of parenting 101 – even though we do. My stepson, your stepchild – or any child for that matter at a young age is a product of their environment, they learn, share and interact with they SEE and HEAR. I remember my grandparents saying “Little ears, have big mouths” and boy were they right. At the end of the day, who cares what BM, the lady down the street, or the nosy lady in the cubicle one row over thinks about you – or says about you. It doesn’t create your self worth, or diminish it. One of the hardest quotes I ever read and had to seriously sit and let sink it – because it was gut-wrenching and accurate was this “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” –Randy Pausch, and although I don’t know Randy from Jack, Bob or Paul, he is right and that is true.

Don’t let the small-minded, get the best of you – love yours and his, or hers and yours and be happy. After all, the best revenge is happiness.

 

I’m me and that’s perfect.

There have been people who judged me and walked away. There have been people who didn’t care to listen to what I had to say.

So…here’s to the people who didn’t like in me high school. To the friends I had before I got divorced. And to the others who lack any decency or remorse

In the Past Year

There have been friends that chose sides.
Friends that erased me from their lives.

There have been some who used my life as a new topic.

Who enjoyed my heartache and failures making them public.

There have been women talking about me in sewing circles.

And..girls..taking my leftovers and trying to make full meals.

There has been a man who forgave me, leaving the past in the past.

Who promised me friendship, regardless of others views, that won’t last.

There has been a Mother who tried to destroy me, telling many I was dead.

And a Son, that used me up and left me questioning what all was said.

There have been jobs lost, money completely drained.

There has been bruises, anger, frustration and pain.

Ive had people attack me and hit below the belt.

I’ve been called fatty, ugly, childish remarks that leave a welt.

I’ve been harassed, cheated and lied about.

My sincerity, parenting and logic have been questioned with doubt.

I’ve spent days in bed asking God to please take me away and end this.

I’ve apologized, and accepted my punishments.

I’ve asked for forgiveness and tried to right all my wrongs.

But, none of you cared how it felt for me all along.

“How could she do that, and just walk away”

“He didn’t deserve that, he needs to make her pay”

“Oh wait, now their friends, how is that even possible?”

Because, my mistakes make the person I am, Remarkable.

The truth is real simple, this last year doesn’t define me.

Speak what you want, hiding behind judgment and misery.

Acceptance and friendship from you is not something I desire or need.

But, when your life falls apart, judgment from me, you’ll never see.

Because I know how it feels to have no private life.

I know how it feels to have failed as a wife.

I’ve watched my children suffer and cry because of me.

What more pain do you think I need to feel and see?

At the end of the day none of you truly matter.

Eventually the pain will diminish from your chatter.

On the day your world becomes broken and unkind.

I hope the shoes you fill, make you see how it felt to walk in mine.

My life is mine to live how I wish, and that is what I have done.

I’ve never in my life pretended to be anything or anyone.

I’m proud of who I am, the lessons Ive learned and how I feel.

Because at the end of the day, I am the one who is being real.