They are wonderful, kind, generous people who have held my hand, wiped my tears and stood by me when I went the way of rainbows and unicorns and girl bits..... Needless to say: they are awesome.
Recently there was a popular blog going around about a woman shopping at a Whole Foods and not generally feeling "hippie" or "cool" enough to be there and how her 'bill' at the end was over $300.... which she sheepishly paid. I read it. It was super funny..... however, I actually thought to myself, "holy crap - she actually went *in* there... .I feel all those things just watching my facebook feed these days.
I'm too broke to even walk in the doors.... I already know I can't afford it.
All day long on facebook - recipes using these 'organic products'.
Scary movies about 'where our meat comes from'..... which pretty much will have you willing to eat your own feces before you settle down to another chuck meat burger.
Lots of ideas for 'cute kids' meals so that you can puree veggie's (in the blender I obviously own) and secretly add it to meals to get kids to eat their veggies.
I would love to feed my kids organic foods.
I would love to set some kind of awesome social standard for them by only dressing them in pure cotton clothes free from 'harmful' dyes.
I would love to have them eat and drink from cups and plates which are BPA free... or whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to be worried about now... but I'm betting *most* of the ones I bought at the dollar store are loaded with chemicals.
Here's the deal..... fuck 'Whole Foods'.... I'm trying to figure out how to buy *any* foods.... seriously.
I saw at a local Farmer's Market that they accepted Food Stamps... which is *super* cool, however, what the government thinks you can feed a family of 3 on ($230 a month) DOES NOT go very far at a Farmer's Market of any kind....
I buy produce at Wal-Mart.
We eat almost allllll Wal-Mart brand foods that *used* to come in plain white boxes with blue writing, but as of late - they have spruced their look up with color pictures on the label for the Pasta Sauce.... taste's the same, still costs me less than $1.50... so they could put whatever the hell they want on the front, as long as they don't raise the price.
See.... that's the world we live in.
One and a half pounds of meat: $7.00
Two jars Pastsa Sauce: $2.56
Two boxes pasta: $1.66
Total dinner, lunch & dinner leftovers: $11.22
Which if I can get three meals for three people out of it - it means that I'm spending $1.24 per person, per meal. Yeah.... THAT is what feeding yourself on a serious budget looks like.
It's not organic. It didn't come from a fancy store with a vitamin section that is four aisles wide.... instead you can choose from lawn mowers to DVD's to guns.... there's nothing 'hippie' or cool or .... enlightened about shopping at Wal-Mart and I can sure as shit promise you that if *anyone* is 'namaste' to you, it's some kind accident and they were probably trying to say... 'You're nasty" and you should move your cart away as fast as possible. Sometimes The People of Wal-Mart are a little crazy...... just sayin'.
Wal-Mart isn't about 'cool'.... so much as it's just about being real.
This is how much money I have - and in *this* store, I can afford to buy food to make dinner, instead of drive thru McDonald's...which to be honest, is actually waaaaay too expensive for us these days. A meal for three at McD's is around $17.00.... but if you go to Arby's you can get the $1 Roast Beef and $2 curly fries and suddenly you're eating like fucking *kings* for $11.00.
Yeah.... that's how we roll... right thru the Arby's.
Sometimes, it all starts to wear me down.... the facebookness of it all.... sometimes my feed is nothing more than an hourly reminder of the things I don't have time to do, the things I can't afford ......
"I ran 3.4 miles with Nike....." - hmm.... I didn't. I have a kid at home who can't keep up... wait - scratch that- who probably already runs faster than me and *I* couldn't keep up... plus I have to try to work to make money.
"I picked these heritage tomatoes from my garden....." - rad. I couldn't afford the raised beds, soil, seeds and I'm already showering the kids at the same time to save on water.... so throwing it around on the grass in the hope that something grows seems like a bad plan.
"This is the healthy 0 calorie, 0 fat, corn fed, hand fed, hand raised, breast-fed chicken dinner that I spent hours lovingly making for my family......" - awesome. I'm hoping that the Foster Farms Chickens ads *aren't* lying... because even then I can only afford them the day they "expire" in the meat aisle.
The truth is... there are *NOT* a shit ton of 'social services' for me to 'take advantage of'. I *DO* work.... but I need to work more... but who watches my kid? The cost of day care is more than I would make, at least until she's in full time school.... so what can I do?
Child support is great.... but there's rent and a car payment and a cell-phone and car insurance... and school clothes and some kind of social outing.... we've already taken skateboarding class and dance classes totally off the table..... so - organic grapes?
I would love to shop there... I would love *nothing more* than to get to the end of loading my cart with a zillion healthy foods and snacks and organic this and gluten-free that.... and swipe my debit card and PAY $300 for it all....
I would love it.
The truth is.... I fill my cart with $100 worth of food at Wal-Mart (probably worth more than $300 at Whole Foods... lolol) and I secretly cross myself and do a 'please-let-it-be-approved' dance which I hope the cashier doesn't notice when I swipe my card.
I stand there awkwardly shifting my weight from one foot to the other because I actually *don't know* if the card is going to go through..... or if I'll be that Mom with two kids asking for bags of M&M's and trying to figure out which items I'm putting back until the card *does* go through.
Nobody posts that shit on facebook. lol
I'm not ashamed. I'm not thrilled.... and it's troubling and depressing to be 38 years old and gearing up for another "Goodwill" Christmas because money is already tighter than a whore's garter in Church..... and other than work harder, save pennies where I can.... I can't *do* anything else. I'm already trolling Craigslist for certain used toys so that I can start getting stuff before other people start looking.... and then there's selling stuff I have just to have extra money, too.
I have a job skill and an education.
I don't have a drug or alcohol problem.
I *had* a savings... but I spent is all on making the COBRA payments to keep my health insurance.
I didn't get "here" because I made a lot of bad choices..... I'm here because someone else made one choice.
When I had extra money.... I paid off my husbands University bill.
When I had more extra money...I paid off my husbands tax bill.
I was a good wife.
I quit school to raise a family so my husband could focus on his career.... for all our benefit.
I did what I was supposed to do.
I learned the *hard* way... that that *wasn't* what I should have done.
The truth is.... as hard as it is - there are single Mom's out there who have it worse.... who are homeless and living solely on food stamps and meager assistance.... shit... there are *families* out there who have it worse.... so I'm grateful.
I can't buy The Girl the cute outfits I used to get her at Nartje.... but she *does* have clothes and they are cute and clean. I'm grateful.
I am grateful.
At the same time, though..... there are days I look at my friends lives and their facebook updates and I feel like half the parent I *should* be - because when it comes right down to it.... there's no way I can afford to do half the things they do..... perhaps not even a quarter.
Hail Mary and I were talking the other day and the biggest lesson I've learned is that I should have put half my money away .... I should have used half my money for the husband I had and family stuff... and put the other half away for 'the future'.... which could have been a trip to Europe in our 70s.... or, grocery money when the "he" left ..... That would have been smart. lol
Hindsight.... she's a bitch.