Monday, November 12, 2012

Being Poor Doesn't Mean You're Stupid or Wasteful

I saw this on Facebook today and started thinking about my childhood.

My mom had done things "right". She was a married church-going mom with 4 kids. She sewed most of our clothes and cooked every meal from scratch. When I was 8, my dad got a great job offer to transfer to a new city. Unfortunately, the bastard used that opportunity to tell his wife he'd been having an affair and was leaving us behind.

My mom found a job, but had to work overtime just to keep the lights on. Our house went into foreclosure and we moved into a rental.

She never took the welfare cash, but did apply for food stamps. And why the hell shouldn't she?! She'd done what society says a woman was supposed to do, but still got screwed. Food stamps didn't enable us to get the sort of food that we used to eat when my dad was around, but it kept us from starving.

My mom kept seeking better work. She got a job at Marshall's and the employee discount allowed her to buy me clothes nice enough to avoid getting teased. My brothers were so tall that they wore sizes that aren't carried at discount stores.

We practically stalked the local second-hand stores. If you've never been to one, you'd probably be surprised just how much brand new stuff you can find. Some of the stuff still had the original store tags on them.

As an adult, I'm in a better financial state, but I still the second-hand stores are my first stop when I'm looking for clothes. I can't tell you the last time I bought a shirt for more than $10. My daughter bought her gown for the homecoming dance for five bucks and it was prettier than any of the stuff we saw at Macy's.

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