Being low income means you can’t always afford to buy your kid everything they want, everything you’d like to give them, or sometimes even everything they need. It means depending on the kindness of others, sitting in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) offices, and experiencing judgement from those who just don’t know. After all, not knowing what it's like doesn't keep people from making comments. In fact, you wouldn’t believe some of the awful things people say to low-income moms, but you need to know. Everyone should know. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), an estimated 43 percent of children live in low-income families. For those children, and their parents, these hurtful comments are commonplace, and that needs to stop, like, yesterday.
For the first year and a half or so of my son’s life, we struggled. Not as much as I’ve seen some folks struggle, to be sure, and I've always tried to keep that in mind when dealing with my own financial difficulties. For example, I knew a couple who would let their daughter wear diapers until they were so full she’d have an accident, not out of neglect, but because they just couldn’t always afford them. I was lucky to get by on government aid programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC, and I was lucky to have parents who allowed me to live rent-free in their home for a period of time. In other words, I was lucky to have safety nets in place.
But my financial hardship wasn't due to being reckless. My partner and I lost a child to prematurity, which resulted in a number of financial issues, including losing our apartment. Then I was fired from my job when I got pregnant with my son, because my employers refused to accommodate my high-risk pregnancy. I was basically at the mercy of a string of bad luck that hit me and my partner in a short amount of time. Honestly, though, how I became a low-income mom shouldn't matter. Instead, people should stop judging low income parents and practically requiring them to "explain themselves" in order to get an ounce of understanding. No one should feel less than because of the amount of money sitting in their bank account, and no one should have to hear the following things when they're doing everything they can to provide for their children: