Posted in C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Economy, News, Parenting, Policy, Politics, Recession, Single Mom, Single Parent, Wall Street

Recession: Are We Working Too Much, Or Not Enough?

By now, there are few of us that haven’t been affected by the recession in some way.

Personally speaking, while I have managed to remain employed by a company that still offers great benefits and good pay…

… Even I am feeling the burn.

Most recently my company froze our salaries, offered a “voluntary” reduced work schedule, reduced our medical coverage, and slashed our 401K match.

Everyone, world-wide it seems, is being forced to make do with less.

We need to be more productive than ever, even as our resources are diminishing.

If we slip up… we could lose our jobs… and with unemployment hovering around 8.5%, we know there are many workers that will be happy to take our places.

At home, we have to figure out a way to continue supporting our families with a smaller number of resources- be it finances, time or energy.

I have a friend, for example, who is a single mother with 2 sons.

She never got much in the way of child support from her ex, so she’s accustomed to having to get creative, figuring things out on her own.

Most recently, my friend, who already works full-time for a large company, had to get a 2nd job.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from a very prestigious university…

… And now finds herself working part-time at Blockbuster Video.

That (small) additional income is buying her groceries every month.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time with her kids as she used to able to…  and now their grades are slipping… they’re developing major attitude problems… their teachers are complaining… she barely recognizes them… but dammit, the mortgage is paid.

I know this problem isn’t a new one.

For generations- well before this particular recession, people- single parents, low income families- have been struggling to learn how to get more out of less.

How do you mandate your children’s behavior, or whether they’re outside playing with friends when they’re supposed to be inside doing homework, when you have 3 jobs- all 3 of which are necessary simply to put food on the table and have gas and electricity?

So many of us are having to choose between that all-important family time and working, so that our rent is paid.

I remember trying to comfort my sobbing friend after her son’s teacher called to let her know he’d been caught stealing another child’s homework… she was also surprised to learn he was failing his classes.

“We’ve talked to your son, and he says you’re never around anymore- that you’re too busy to help him with his studies. You really need to take a more active role in your son’s life”, snarled the teacher.

“Sir, with all due respect, I love my children, and I am doing the very best I can”.

“It’s not good enough”, she was told.

They’re both right.

She is definitely doing the best she can…

… And, as evidenced by her son’s behavior, it isn’t good enough.

So what is it that we’re to do, when the very best we have, simply doesn’t cut it?

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Funny, Humor, Single Mom

The Slow Burn of the Economy and Footwear

Like just about everyone else, I am feeling the burn of the economy.

Being a single parent, I was never exactly rollin’ in the dough, but I’ve done alright. I have a decent job and no credit card debt. I’ve had to get creative- or what I thought at the time was creative- a time or two, but overall it hasn’t been too bad…

Until now.

Between the cost of gas, groceries and everything else, it’s safe to say I am broke. Extremely, pathetically broke. After paying $4 for a measly gallon of milk the other day, I honest to God thought I was going to vomit… and I won’t even talk about what I did the first time I paid close to $60 for a single tank of gas.

That’s why I experienced something dangerously close to blind panic when I realized both of my daughters need new shoes. The Baby’s were getting so small she could barely fit her little feet into them anymore, and The Diva’s toes were poking out of hers.

Sigh.

Normally a thing such as shoe shopping is not enough to make me burst into tears, but considering I have no money (did I mention I’m broke??), that’s exactly what happened. I was so distraught I actually had to have a friend of mine review my (bleak) budget with me and help me figure out how in the world I could fit two new pairs of shoes into it.

After crunching the numbers, my buddy gave me the bad news- I could afford exactly $30, including tax- on shoes.

Yikes.

I typically spend more than that on one pair of shoes for one child… this is now my total budget?

Gulp.

I didn’t think it could be done- I realize I have instantly dropped from middle-class to poor. Similar to suddenly dropping 10,000 feet in an airplane during turbulence, the feeling is not a good one. It can make a person like me physically ill.

Ugh.

Alright, enough of the pity party. Poor or not, I had no choice. The kids needed new shoes, and I had to buy them. Period. So off we went, in search of cheap-yet-sturdy-yet-socially-acceptable footwear… the sort of thing I didn’t believe actually existed.

It wasn’t easy, and it took some bargain hunting, but I am happy to report I was not only able to purchase two pairs of shoes for the little ones, but 6 pairs of socks as well, all for the bottom-barrel price of $27.66.

And yes, that includes tax.

While I’m certain no one who reads this will find themselves nearly as excited as I am, this is never the less a small victory in a very large, very expensive, very jacked up world… and I’m feeling pretty smug. So maybe I can survive this recession the uber-rich politicians keep trying to convince me is just part of my imagination after all.

Time will tell, I guess. Until then, baby’s got a new pair of shoes!