NO GLORY IN THE WELFARE LINE
By Sara Evanchick: Octomom is in the news again. I use the term ‘Octomom’ so that you’ll know who I’m talking about. But that’s the last time I’ll use it, because she has a name. It’s Nadya Suleman. Did you know that? I didn’t. I’m ashamed to say that I had to Google it.
Nadya is in the news because she recently went on welfare. After swearing she’d never go on public assistance, she has found that she can’t afford to feed her children without it.
The headlines are witty and sarcastic. Everyone is getting a good chuckle over the misfortune of the fame-seeking mom.
And I’m just like her.
Except, I don’t have 12+ little mouths to feed -- I just have one. And I don’t live my life in the spotlight. My life is much more private and mundane than Nadya’s.
But in the early days of our marriage, my husband and I worked as missionaries. Money was tight. And people would say “I’m sure you guys would qualify for food stamps.” We would always reply the same way. “We choose to live our lives this way (with very little income). We aren’t interested in taking advantage of the system.
I became pregnant, and money was still tight. We knew it was going to be ok because I was going to breastfeed. We had it all figured out. But the circumstances surrounding our son’s birth made that impossible. Not only did we end up using formula, he ended up needing special hypo-allergenic formula -- one of the most expensive formulas on the market. We had to get our formula through the WIC program. But at least it wasn’t food stamps.
Now, we are blessed with a happy, healthy 1 year old. But, as it turns out, we can’t afford to feed him on our own. My husband has been out of work for over a year. We are living with family. And, as much as we tried to avoid it, we recently had to go on public assistance.
And just like that, I’m a welfare mom.
Last week, we were the ones holding up the line at the grocery store. The cashier had applied our bottle return slips to our grocery bill. We had to ask him to call a manager over because we needed him to reverse it. We needed the $3.00 in cash. He was visibly annoyed, as was the manager. After all, it was just $3.00. I’m sure they were irritated that we were buying several weeks worth of groceries with food stamps, and hassling them over $3.00. What they didn’t know was that without that $3.00, we wouldn’t have enough gas to get home.
Let me tell you, there’s no glory in the welfare line.
But at least you didn’t read that story on TMZ. At least I had the choice of whether or not to share it with you. Nadya doesn’t have that choice. So I hope you understand that when I read the clever headlines and overhear the jokes about Nadya, I silently assume that you think the very same things about me.
It doesn’t matter whether or not she deserves this or whether or not it’s her own fault that she is where she is. What matters is that her children need to be fed. And in that way, Nadya and I are the same. We’re both welfare moms and our lives haven’t turned out the way we expected.
There may not be glory in the welfare line, but shouldn’t there be grace?