Being on welfare fucking sucks. Paying for groceries with food stamps is the fucking worst. Eating government cheese – while it’s some of the yummiest you’ll ever have in a quesadilla – is still government cheese. But when you got mouths to feed—you gotta do what you gotta do.
Being on public assistance was a choice my mom made out of necessity and it was not for a lack of working really freakin’ hard. My mom worked…HARD. Single mom. Five kids. That shit’s expensive!
I guess I understood that as a kid but it didn’t mean I had to like it.
When we’d go grocery shopping, I would go straight to the magazine section at Price Choppers and hide behind a Bop magazine, while my mom went up and down the isle pricing out generic Corn Flakes. God forbid anyone would see me shopping at the discount grocery store and my mom paying with food stamps. Couldn’t we just once shop at Safeway where all the rich people buy their groceries? Pleeeese?!
Watching my mom struggle with money was tough and I just knew that if we just had some, all of our life’s problems would be solved.
Little did my mom know at the time, I was about to single handedly turn our luck around. Are you ready for this? We were about to win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, thanks to me. I got the letter before my mom could throw it away, subscribed to so many magazine subscriptions to help our odds, and sent it back. I had decided that this cash was already in the bag. One Saturday, we’d be gone the whole day. What if they came and we weren’t there? Would they give our rightly deserved millions to someone else? I couldn’t take any chances. I left Ed McMahon a note and put it on the door. I don’t remember exactly what the note said but I’m sure it was something to the effect of:
Dear Ed McMahon,
We had to go out but want the money. Please wait for us. We’ll be back soon.
Spoiler: We didn’t win.
I can’t tell you how ashamed I am now that I was so ashamed then. Especially now as a mom, I now understand the lengths that a mother will go through to make sure her babies are supported, fed, loved, safe, and well taken care of no matter the cost, no matter the shame, no matter the judgy look she’s getting from her ungrateful, unaware, self-centered 12 year old daughter hiding behind a Bop magazine.
My Mom often says that even though those were some of the toughest times she went through, it was also some of her happiest (despite the aforementioned preteen daughter) Probably because she still had all of her five kids under one roof, happy as can be, eating the best fucking government cheese quesadillas we’d ever have!