I'm just going to say it.
I'm on food stamps.
Since the day my ex husband put me and my 37 week gestational age baby who had just gotten discharged from his NICU stay 2 weeks prior, I've been using YOUR TAX MONEY to pay for food for myself and my son.
It has also paid for every medical checkup and sick visit Eli has ever had. It's paid part of the medical bills I've incurred as part of my clinical depression and PTSD which resulted from my baby dying, my other baby being sick in the NICU for 45 days, and my husband cheating on me and abandoning me.
It has been a blessing. A true blessing. But lately I've seen these ecards going around Facebook and Pinterest:
I do have an iPhone. For the first year after I got divorced (while I was on food stamps!!!) I had a crappy prepaid cell phone. Once I managed to make it into nursing school, though, we had required apps. They gave us an iPod Touch (and by "gave," I mean paid for with our special nursing fees that are added on top of tuition). Many of the required apps for school need an internet connection and I was finding that it was impractical to need to have WiFi every time I needed to look up a drug or study for a test, and I decided to purchase an iPhone. Judge me if you want. I didn't buy it to have the latest and greatest - I bought it because as a single mother, finding study time is hard enough and the iPhone is a great tool to be able to study on the go. Plus also? I didn't/don't pay for my iPhone with YOUR TAX DOLLARS. I pay for it with student loans, which I will have to pay back once I am graduated.
This one is almost funny. I do get to shop as much as I want - at thrift stores. Because you know, it takes awhile to find something presentable to wear when you're sifting through shit other people didn't want. As for living off child support, that's a complete joke. Every dime of my child support goes to childcare while I'm in school, and I have a balance left over after that. It doesn't pay for any of my child's clothes or activities or haircuts or any living expenses. It pays for daycare. That's it. I will admit that my state is generous in its food stamp formula - I get $367/month for me and E. That's $12/day... $6/day each.. $2 per person per meal. So while I do have enough to feed us, it's not as if we're eating steak and lobster every day. Just to clear that up.
I do have a nice pocketbook. I have this awesome one that holds all my cards and my *gasp* iPhone. It was $6 on clearance at Target. Do you know what else I have? I have two Juicy Couture handbags and a Coach Patchwork. I hardly ever carry them anymore, because of judgement like this. Those were bought for me as gifts by my ex husband while we were married and we had the money to do so. They're not in great enough condition to sell for any significant amount of money, and as all I got in the divorce was my personal belongings (no furniture, no dishes, no appliances, no shared property whatsoever) I feel justified in keeping these. They're mine, and I didn't buy them because you were buying me food with YOUR TAX DOLLARS. They were gifts, from a time when I wasn't on any assistance at all. I don't think that makes me a shitbag.
I'll end with this one:
This one shows some common sense. No one knows how I came to be on food stamps, just like no one knows how I got my iPhone. They don't know that over the summer I'm "donating" plasma twice a week to pay the bill. When I first started getting child support, I would hoard all of it in my wallet, terrified of losing it and not sure if/when I would get more. So I'm sure people judged the girl on food stamps with all the cash in her wallet. She must be playing the system, right?