Being flashy has never been my thing. Being overly materialistic has never been something that I aspire to be even if I had the money. Our goal has always been to try to get to a point where we are able to do what we want to do when we want to do it, all within reason. If we decided we wanted to take the kids on a weekend trip one weekend using a Groupon or Living Social deal that was too good to pass up, then the goal is and has always been to get to a point in our lives when weekend trips, little luxuries and the little extras would be possible — not something we just hoped would one day become more than a possibility.
So with that being said, our lives while very blessed in its own right, and has had its share of ups and downs like any other relationship/marriage. While the downs we experienced we would not wish on our worse enemy, there were a few times when it was hard for either one of us to get out of bed. But I think that’s why God gave us the blessing of a newborn and the continued love of the 16-year-old who also was alive and well to help give us a reason to keep moving and living at a time when our thoughts kept retreating back to the 18-year-old that we had just lost.
That all being said, a few years ago we fell on hard times. Through the urging of my boss at the time and a few friends, I decided to start getting assistance through WIC (Women Infants and Children). I was mortified, not because I feel better than any body, but because we were at this place where assistance was needed even though we were two grown working adults who had been providing for themselves and ‘their dependents’ for many years and had suddenly found themselves at a point when help was the only option to keep surviving.
I followed the proper steps and met with our ‘case worker.’ And as she examined my son, my anxiousness bubbled to the surface during the appointment I did my best to keep it to myself. And after just a few months of needing the assistance, we once again found ourselves on a little more stable ground and were able to no longer need WIC. A helping hand to guide a person through tough times, that’s how I came to see WIC at that point in our lives.
And about two years later when I was pregnant again, we found ourselves in this same place again, needing assistance and I was completely mortified. Once again, not because I feel like I am better than anyone else but because you work so hard to not have to ask for help and when you are forced to, it’s just a situation you hope to never have to see yourself having to endure again.
But as I met with our ‘case worker’ the second time, I guess she sensed my anxiousness and unsettled behavior and asked if there was anything else she could do. We talked briefly about my son and then the conversation slowly turned to my embarrassment about needing help. With a kind smile, the woman said, “Don’t ever be embarrassed about needing help. This is what WIC was originally intended for — to help people who have fallen on hard times, get back on their feet until they find themselves on stable footing again.” I remembered she cleared her throat and continued, “WIC is not intended to be a catch-all or a permanent fix for any situation. It’s supposed to help provide the fundamental supplies for your baby to continue growing and flourishing until you can get on your own two feet and provide for them by yourself.”
So I’ve taken the woman’s words to heart with me over the last couple months throughout this journey when I applied for unemployment, Medicaid and even food stamps (which we were denied). Ironically, I completely forgot about WIC this time since we would’ve been able to get food for both boys. I tried to keep it in perspective as just another means of assistance to use until we got back on our feet. Because we are not those people who believe in keeping our hand out until it becomes unwelcome and known by many as only looking for a free handout. But we want to be able to stand on our own two feet independently and take care of our family.
So needless to say, I don’t buy designer purses. Most of my shoes are purchased on sale or from the clearance rack along with my clothes. And my extra money, when I actually knew how that feels , I spend on my kids or my husband, or all three one a good day.
I guess throughout this whole ordeal this time around, I’ve learned asking help whether in the form of money, advice, a reference, or just a helping hand doesn’t make you a ‘loser’ or someone who isn’t making it in life. But maybe it’s a good thing that I can swallow my pride long enough to ask for help. I don’t feel very courageous, just a bit exhausted and stressed.
But life is good right now. Life is very good and I think I’ll save that for the next blog post.