My parents, I think, raised me "right'. I was taught never to buy things on credit, to live within my means and to save more than I spend. I didn't do so well at the "saving" part.... but I *am* really good at saving money while shopping. In high school when I would present my Dad with my latest find he would say, "I can't afford for you to "save" me anymore money....." He may have a point,,, but like anyone - I have a hard time passing up a good deal.
When it came to buying our house, unlike most of our friends, I chose a house that was small - the kind of house my Grandparents would call a "starter" home. I bought a house that was nearly half of what the mortgage broker said we qualified for, but that as because I didn't go by *their* numbers... I went by mine.
I added up what we could afford if the world when to sh*t and we both had to work full time jobs at minimum wage, then I looked for houses in *that* price range. I loved our home, but it was modest, and it wasn't our "dream home". El Capitan wanted a 'man-cave' - I wanted a second living room so that the kids would have a place to play while the Mommy's have a separate room to chat and get to know each other better. It's hard to have conversations during playgroup over the choo-chooing of Thomas the Train or battle of Superman and Spider-Man.
I chose cars we could afford the payment on, I shopped for insurance plans and deals on cell-phones and cable to save every dime we could. If I wanted something fancy, I found a way to trade for it - even the upgrades on our home were often traded services. We carried little to no credit and I paid off every single debt we had......
So, today, sitting in the "Self-Sufficiency" offices at the DHS, I found myself wondering how the f*ck I got here.
Let me be clear, I *do not* think that I am IN ANY WAY above needing social services, or being poor or any such thing.... not. at. all. In fact, many of the people in the office looked much like myself - single Mom's chasing small children who were bored and still boiling over with excitement from Christmas. Some people, clearly down on their luck... and one girl in her UGG's, Pink sweats, and tapping away on her iPhone that she pulled out of a Coach purse... well... I did kind of wonder just *how* much help she actually needed.... lololol. But, you never know someone's circumstances without asking, and if you aren't going to ask - then you shouldn't pass judgement. Since it's not my place to ask, it's also not my place to judge.
I was there because the day after Christmas I got a letter in the mail from El Capitan employer telling me that the children no longer had health insurance. This came a rather big surprise to me because two days after El Capitan and his company parted ways and I was told about it - the *first* thing I did was tell him that he needed to go down and apply for Oregon Health Plan for the children.
It was one of the conversations that had happened during our marriage so many times. As soon as the words, "Hey - don't forget to sign the kids up for Oregon Health ......" - said *without annoyance or frustration or judgement* - left my mouth.... El Capitan was totally, completely, annoyed with me. He doesn't like "being told what to do" - these are the types of moments and conversations where El Capitan would latter tell me was part of the reason he cheated: I acted like his 'Mother'.
Knowing that that was where the conversation was headed, I simply left it at that and said no more. Let me be clear, because I think when El Capitan repeats our conversations, they go something like this, "Oh, you better get the kids on Oregon Health or I'm going to rip your balls off....." complete with Jerry-Springer-style-chicken-Necking on my part...... but again. That is *not* what happened. A simple, polite suggestion based on that fact that I am not keen on our children going without health insurance. (I thought that the parent who previously supplied the insurance through their work need to apply if that coverage ended.)
The weeks have gone by.... and I only mentioned it one more time and was told he was "on it".
Last week, the week before Christmas, The Girl needed to go to the doctor, so I called El Capitan and asked him to call the insurance to make sure that the children' still had coverage. He called me back and gave me some long song and dance story and said that they did. So I booked an appointment and took The Girl in.
The day *after* Christmas, I awoke to find a letter from El Capitan's previous employer to tell me that the health insurance for the children expired three days prior to the day I took The Girl into the doctor.
So. Today.... I had to go down to the office's and apply. Come to find out that on the same forms El Captain was filling out for himself - was the box to check "medical coverage" and had he checked said box.... they would have instructed him that he could not apply for coverage for the kids - that the custodial parent had to do it. Since I'm the custodial parent, then only *I* can apply. Which... I should have done weeks ago. Or on the day I wanted to take The Girl to the doctor. Oregon has a kick-ass insurance program for *kids* and starts the second you apply. They won't turn any child down - everyone who applies is accepted, and they use your application and circumstances to determine how much of the program you have to pay into.
I'm not bothered by how much we have to pay - only that the children have insurance. Sadly.... in spite of our circumstances, *I* do not qualify for coverage - because we "make" more than $436 a month, and that is the cap for coverage for adults.
$436. The very nice woman told me I have to pregnant or "make" less than $436 per month - which my child support is more than that. lol. I wasn't looking for *free* coverage - not at all. I'm happy to pay - certain that whatever it was would be less than the $430 I currently pay just for myself right now.... I asked her if Obama-Care was going to change the cap.... she said no.
It was humbling to be sitting there... feeling like I had made good financial choices as an adult so that I would never be sitting in *any* kind of social services office. But, like *many* people in this country - that's exactly where I was sitting.
I had made good house choices, good car choices.... but where I had failed, was in my choice of husband. that was blaringly obvious to me today. It's one thing to be a general douche... it's another to get annoyed at me, *lie* to me - and allow our children to be without health coverage.
The Boy has gone blind TWO TIMES - once in each eye - and he's been complaining as of late about his vision and his glasses. I have to get him into his specialist. He's had two full lens-replacement surgeries - having our children without health insurance is a terrifically bad idea.
However... *I'm* the bad guy - *I'm* the "MOM" telling El Capitan what to do... which means he won't do it - he didn't do it.... and now our children *went* without medical coverage AND I'll be on the hook for the FULL Bill for the office visit and all labs done during that appointment.
*That* is how it works though... I'm a b*tch when I tell him "what to do" - but no ownership on his part when he doesn't get it done... usually the fall out is nothing too exciting... *this* time, however, El Capitan's reluctance to do something I dared to tell him to do... left out children without health insurnace and has left me holding the bag.
I'm so tired of that. So... freakin' tired. Perhaps I wouldn't be the "Mom" if someone would ever step up and be THE MAN. Or... if someone wasn't busying being "the man" for Yoga Girl.
As it stands... El Capitan still hasn't called...... seven days and counting......
yet, more awesome.
On the plus side, I'm actually really glad that the kids are finally on Oregon Health - it's a great plan, and provides a lot of coverage for the kids - which great. I am ever grateful that my First World Problem is having an ex that isn't following through on things.... and that the end result is good health insurance for my children (though still not for me.... can't have it all, I guess)... these are privileged problems in a rather privileged society. I am lucky to have been born into it - to get to live in it. I was lucky to have the compassion and patience of everyone who helped me fill out paperwork and cross my t's and dot my i's to ensure that kids would get coverage immediately.
While I sat there, feeling like a failure, feeling like less than..... my questions were met with understanding and assistance and kindness, and I was very, very grateful for that.