Feeling sorry for myself

It’s January.  Blah.  It’s cold and wet and dirty outside.  I find myself spending entirely too long every morning standing under a hot shower just thinking and not wanting to get out.  It is so not good for my oil bill, and I pay for it the rest of the day with dry, itchy skin.  Still, I can’t help it.  One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote about her struggles.  Now, I shall write about mine (not that I don’t, constantly), feel free to skip over this post if you don’t wish to hear  read me whine.

I feel totally stuck.  In – a – total – rut.  January 1st was the 6th anniversary of my single parenthood.  Let me put that in perspective for you – Dominic is 6.  Through the years I have worked full-time out of the home, part-time out of the home, full and part time from the home.  And always more than full time in the home.  All of you mothers of large families know what I am talking about.  I get comments here and there telling me that I should get off my lazy butt and get a job (or 3) to support my children, it’s my problem I have them.  True, it is my problem I have them, but I didn’t spontaneously pop out eleven little people on my own.  I did raise them on my own, however, regardless of who I was married to.  Anyway, I can count the number of child support checks I received in 2012 on one hand.  If you have been a reader of this blog for long, you know it was years when the money never came, and it was never the full amount when it did.  And yes, support enforcement (the state) has my case.  This is with his check attached.

And yes, I receive food stamps.  $900/month.  For eleven people, in the uber-expensive Northeast.  No, I am not proud of this fact.  If you have read this far, and can bear with me a tad longer, I will explain the whole conundrum that is my rut.  I have a BS in English.  It is worth this.  I cannot go back to school to further my education because a fafsa is only good for an undergraduate degree.  I cannot go to school for a trade of any kind without the money to do so, for the same reason.  I cannot get a job in this economically depressed area I live in, because there are no jobs outside of Walmart, which pays minimum.

Part 2: If I work at a minimum wage job (which, after taxes, is roughly $300/wk), and receive a child support payment, the state immediately deducts the money from what I receive in food.  So, in essence, I am leaving the house, paying for gas, to drive to a job, to pay for the food, which I was getting for free.  Yes, this makes me sound as if I am “using the system.”  Believe me, I am not.  $900 a month is a stretch, but we are doing it.  The problem is, if they take my food away, then how do we eat, AND pay the rent, electric, heat, phone, and everything else (which is not cable or dinner’s out, I was talking toilet paper and shampoo).  Then the support always stops, and it takes months to get back to below poverty level again.

I know how to stretch a dollar until it screams.  I make my own laundry soap, we make our own bath soap, we use the .97 shampoo, we get hand-me-downs and knit our own hats and scarves.  I am talking basic rent, electricity, heat, phone, gas, car insurance, household, which at the very minimum, is $1800 a month. 

I was not a single mother who went on welfare and had more babies.  I didn’t ask for this.  To support my children, 8 of which I am still responsible for, without food and to pay the minimum bills, I would need to make $500/wk.  If I had to pay for my own food, it would be $700/wk.  The most money I ever made in my life at a job was $400/wk.  And as my children get older, the state cuts them off, and I receive less to help pay for them who have all helped support me, but who now either cannot find a job of their own, or can’t afford to pay for a driver’s license to find a job elsewhere.

I suppose when all of my children have grown and left the house, provided I am still alive by then, I can support myself on minimum wage at Walmart.  I will have to, I have no social security, pension, 401K, IRA, xyz, or anything. 

Not sure where I was going with this.  It wasn’t meant to be a money rant alone, it was also meant to be a “I’m sick of being single, in a married community” rant, and a “I miss my parents, everyone else my age still has both parents, for the most part, and I have been motherless for 23 years, fatherless for 13″  rant.  I miss my mother every single day.  Especially at Christmas.  And in January, her birthday month, when she would spend her birthday on me, because I was her gift.  I miss her.  Yes, I miss my Dad, too, but not having a mother is just different. 

I also miss being a couple.  No, I do not in any way miss him.  Maybe I don’t miss it, because I never really had it.  But I really would like it.  Do you know what I mean?


  1. I have followed your blog quietly for the last several months and I just wanted to share that I am praying for you. That rut your in, I think we all get there sometimes..and the longer we have been treading water to stay alive the deeper that rut feels once we fall in! Anyone with a conscience/heart who reads your blog I can not imagine how they would accuse you of being a welfare system player, it certainly looks to me like you are doing EVERYTHING you can and giving your children a wonderful home environment in the process,my own sister went through a situation much like yours but had only 3 children to care for and it was almost her undoing, if not for her church community I don’t know how she would have made it. Don’t give up, I know it sounds trite but it IS always darkest before the dawn! Will be praying for a windfall in your doll business or even just a plain old miracle to boost your spirits! GOD BLESS

  2. I am a single mother of one. I too was left to fend on my own without parents or the father of my child. He abandoned me out of the blue as well. I never thought I would be this way in my 30’s. If you had asked me what I saw for myself it is far from the reality. :-) I am however blessed with good extended family and for that I am more than grateful. Every day as I struggle to make sure my daughter has what she needs, that we keep the lights and transportation going I think to myself is this it?? Is this what it’s come too?

    I guess that is why I follow you because I say to myself, what are you crying about that Kristen lady is doing it with 11 kids something I am sure would have sent me to the funny farm long ago.:) I guess this is my roundabout way of saying you are encouraging and if you get little else out of sharing your story know that. IMO it doesn’t make sense to just accept any job when you have that many children it’s just not going to work. I know people won’t like that but it’s the truth. My biggest struggle of this whole single parent thing was what to do with my kid while I worked myself to death. Sometimes people judge before they realize how hard it is to be in your shoes. We all need a good cry, I hope you feel better.

  3. This makes me so angry with your ex. How can he abandon his children????? I’m sorry- but I think he will go to hell if he does not someone make this right

    Could you take a renter???

  4. I read your posts with disbelief. I thought people in your situation are the ones that we are supposed to be helping. It just makes me realize that these programs are so fraudulant and the wrong people are making the money. The bureacracy is unbelievable. It’s such a crime that you are forced to live as you are while jumping through all sorts of hoops. I don’t know how you do it, but I do admire you so very much for staying faithful, being a good Catholic, and being the one good parent for your children. God will reward you too. It looks to me like you are raising nice kids. That is HUGE! Hang in there and know that many people are praying for you.

    • Please pray that Ashley Paridise – most likely my ex or his mother, gets a life and leaves me alone. Every. Single. Post. I write, this person (who created a yahoo profile with no info as of 1/13, after I disabled anonymous comments), remarks about what a system-abuser I am, how can I get so much free food, I am a terrible mother… etc.

  5. I pray that this person leaves you alone and I pray for you and your children everyday. You have been a good and faithful Catholic and mother and the Lord has His hand over you and your family and I know that times are hard, but I do believe your rewards will be yours and that the best is yet to come for you and your family. Have faith, don’t try to think too much in to the future, that how I get by I have no financial retirement plan but don’t care I have the best retirement plan which is the Salvation thru Christ Jesus and I know no matter what He is there He will never forsake us even in our darkest hour. Take it one day at a time, praising Him for healthy children and a new day. I have been through a ton of things in my life including almost being homeless and I have never felt His love more than when I was on my knees desperate for answers. Also I think there is nothing wrong with venting, its healthy and we as fellow people who are struggling can totally relate to rising food, heating bills, etc. I share your struggle and like you I stay faithful that better times are ahead. I am married and both my husband and I work but cannot save anything we work just to scrape by every month on a wing and a prayer and we only have 2 children so I can’t imagine how tough it is to have a household of 11 folks to feed and clothe. Sending virtual hugs and prayers and tears as well. Your doing a good job! You have a lot of us sisters in Christ praying for you.
    Blessings to you and your children!

  6. who are these people that make such comments?

    They must just be hateful people. I know people that have 2 kids and both work but they are so mad at everything! mad at the system that gives people food stamps etc made they HAVE to pay–but they are mad because they are greedy themeselves and want more in my opinion.

    unless you are poor you have no clue what poor people struggle with.

    they think its so easy when its not.

    I have thought of going to a food bank…but in our area you have to go to a certain one in our zip code. this certain zip code food bank has daily drive by shootings people are murdered in this area every day. I would have to risk my life to go there. A single mom was waiting on the same street and 2 men just shot her in daylight for looking at them….

    people who are not poor have no understanding at all. Don’t even pay any attention to them.

  7. Oh Kristen, how I wish I was a person of means, or connections, or something so I could help you and your beautiful kids.
    But I keep you in my prayers and commend you to Jesus and His Blessed Mother.
    I think you are heroic! It is exhausting to deal with the kinds of every day survival-type basics that you have been for so long. It is just honesty to say what you are feeling, it doesn’t negate your faith.
    Humility is just telling the truth, after all.
    God love you and I wish I could giver you a hug and help you in more ways that just praying.

  8. I was a single mother, only had one child but was on welfare and foodstamps. At one point, my son’s father ruined everything I owned. Every. Single. Thing, right down to my underwear. We had to stay at the domestic violence shelter and I remember sitting on a bed surrounded by women I didn’t know and thinking: I’ll never get out of this.

    But I did. I only had one child, of course, and I also had a “useless” English degree. I’m lucky enough to live in a city where the economy is decent. I was able to get a journalism job, pick up my graduate degree and slowly pull myself up. It was always hard, though. I never received any child support, not a dime, and lived in apartments and drove old cars.

    But things did get better. My son graduates from a private college this spring (on scholarship) and I nabbed a two-book conract from a New York publisher.

    Sounds good, no? Except I will never catch up. I Still have almost no savings, retirement, etc. I will probably be working into my 70s and yes, I’ll probably be working at Walmart when I am older (maybe we can work at side-by-side registers).

    Nothing angers me more than the stigma against single mothers. There is such hate out there, as if we chose this hard path in life, as if we are “stealing” from the system and living in luxury. Yeah, right.

    Actually, we are working twice as hard to get half as far, and we do so each and every day, and when things get bad we have no one to lean on. We have to be “on” ALL the time. That is one of the worse things.

    Things will get better, trust me on this. Once your kids are older you will be free to move to a more economically enriched area, go back to school, etc.

    But that’s not what I want to say. It’s this: It’s worth it. Every single hard moment is worth it. And your kids will be stronger. And you are stronger.

    I used to sit in the newsroom and look around at women married with kids, women who lived in nice houses and drove nice cars and vacationed in Hawaii each winter, and I’d think: They could never do this. And probably they couldn’t. We are stronger. More importantly, we know our own strength, and that is something that unfortunately many women never learn. And it is a huge, huge gift.

    Sorry this is so long. Just wanted to offer my support. It’s funny: My life is VERY different from yours. I am very liberal, not religious and my soon-to-be published book is a bit racy and probably will not be on your reading list. Still, I follow your blog and feel oddly close to you.

    Cheers and hang in there.

  9. Kristin, I wanted to let you know that a FAFSA is not only good for undergraduate programs. For example, if you choose to get your teaching credential (a one year program, since you already a degree) You would receive full financial aid. If you attend a state school you would likely have your tuition completely covered with out any loans. Of course you could take the loans to cover living expenses. Also as a student you may qualify for welfare to work, which may pay for your books and mileage. If you decided to go to graduate school, you would also fill out a FAFSA and if you attend a state school could very likely receive a scholarship for full tuition. Every school is different of course so I recommend shopping around. I am a single mother of seven and I have just completed a teaching credential and masters program. all of which was covered by scholarships, simply because I took the time to fill out the FAFSA and apply. Good Luck.

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