It has been quite a long while since I posted anything on this blog. I've had things building up but I just never have the energy or time to get things down. I will be posting a piece about my birth experience and how I felt about it from a feminist perspective. However, today's blog is more about the struggles of the past few weeks. I am thankful that I have such a good understanding of intersectionality and the various types of oppression that exist because had I not had this understanding I could be buried under an anvil of depression and self-doubt.
The biggest of my struggles of the past few months is financial. The recession has really taken it's toll on my family and the effects of capitalism and this classist society we live in has never been more real.
In an earlier post, I talked about my short term disability not paying for my full leave. I was only paid for 60% of the 6 weeks after birth. I had to leave work 3 weeks before my August 22 due date and my daughter was born 6 hours late on the morning of August 23. So, I had to attempt to stretch $1315 over 9 weeks. On average, over 9 weeks I'd make approximately $3287.50. That's a difference of $1972.50.
In addition to my serious income loss my partner, O'Neil, had his hours cut at his main job and his second job sometimes didn't schedule him at all. Needless to say there were quite a few bills that would go unpaid or paid significantly late. This lack of funds and inability to pay everything that needed paying led to a domino effect. We weren't able to finish paying off the oil bill from last winter, so we cannot get oil until it's paid off, which means that we cannot turn on the heat because our hot water is also fueled by oil. His ex-wife also took him to court about their divorce agreement to split certain debts and most recently had his income withheld for child support (this is a whole new topic I'll explore in more detail at another time because I'd like to address women who contribute to sexism). The newest of this debt spiral is CT DRS garnishment for 2008 taxes despite our paying every month (this apparently wasn't good enough).
There is also the pile of medical bills related to my pregnancy and delivery. I was covered by two insurances. Both of which said the other was primary and continuously denied every claim sent to them until the other paid first. Fun! I have to spend hours and hours of phone calls with each explanation of benefits statement I receive. Even with the insurance issue beginning to be straightened out, the high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums have left me with a significant stack of bills to pay.
Basically our income is a third of what it is normally and our bills have doubled (mainly because any open line of credit had to be used for essentials like food, utilities, and baby supplies). I was lucky enough to be granted a forbearance until January on my $35,000 student loan debt.
Since O'Neil's second job laid just about everyone off except the part-timers and a select few full-timers, he's been getting a steady 2-3 day schedule. Business at his first job has increased and he is finally on a 40 hour schedule most weeks. He should be on salary and in a management position for all the work he does as a "supervisor." Supervisor in his case is basically someone with all the responsibility and accountability of a Manager but without the salary. Of course with the economy and job market in such array who can afford to make demands for anything they deserve at work.
(How ironic: I just received a phone call from a debt collector telling me my auto payment was declined. They tried to take the payment out 2 days early. Had they waited until the actual date, it might have cleared.)
The job market is another struggle. During the first months of my pregnancy I was working 1 full-time job as a server and another part-time job as a tutor, interning at DVCC, taking 4 classes to finish my degree, organizing our school production of 'The Vagina Monologues" and puking regularly due some pretty terrible morning sickness. My idea of lightening my load was to drop one of my classes and take it in the summer. I did finish my degree in my 7th month of pregnancy. After I had the baby, I immediately began looking for a job. I have sent out more than 60 resumes and filled out even more applications in the 10 weeks since her birth. I stopped looking exclusively for jobs in my field and education level in around my second week of searching. I even started looking for food service jobs (which is where most of my work experience is) that at least had better schedule and pay than the one I currently have. I've tried secretarial, receptionist, personal assistant, human resource, and tons of other entry level or 'high school only' required positions.
Of them all, I've only receive about 5 phone calls. One required a car which I don't have. Another hired someone before I even got to my interview and called to cancel. Another decided that despite the minimal requirements posted on the web site that they needed someone with significant experience in a particular area of which I had little. You get the point. Nothing has come through.
I'm back to serving full-time (or at least what they call full-time 23 hours/week) and I have to pump breast milk in the family bathroom. Every time I say 'breast milk' my GM cringes. Everyone seems to get a yuck look on their face when I mention that I'm going to go pump. The sexist remarks fly in all directions. The latest attack on my breastfeeding was the comment that I shouldn't leave my (clearly labeled and dated) breast milk in the walk-in because the Health Department would "close us down." Not to mention how many times I've been looked over for promotions because I was either pregnant or nursing.
So, why am I going on and on? Complaining? A bit, yes. But actually my purpose to give (my 2 or 3) readers a context for the next series of blogs I am going to put write.
Here's a bit of what I hope to cover:
- Classism - how it is apparent in my life
- Forced division of household labor by sex due to economics
- why I'm anti-capitalism
- "Good" mother's have "Bad" thoughts
- My Birth Story - The Empowerment of Childbirth
- Necessity of intergenerational living amongst the lower classes
- Co-parenting (when you have different views, histories and cultures)
- The "Second-Shift" is often the third (or fourth)
- Emergency Assistance & the 'poverty' level
I hope that I will gain some readers and get some discussion and comments going. Towards the end of each of these pieces I hope to write something of about how this relates to Feminist Parenting. So here's today bit about Feminsit Parenting:
Through all of this I think to myself, "At least my little girl is healthy." My partner is health and my little girl is health. It is the one thing that we have right now. I haven't thought much about myself except to try my best to eat healthy (which is not easy when you can afford groceries). I woke up at 2:30am in excruciation pain and rushed to the ER to find out I have kidney stones. O'Neil was terrified it was something worse and relieved that it was nothing life threatening. He and my mother-in-law have taken over feeding my 2 month old, a responsibility that was almost exclusively mine except when I was at work. It hasn't been easy because she can smell my breasts and doesn't want the bottle. This has meant not being able to comfort her at all until the pain medicine is out of my system.
I thought this would be a welcome break since I haven't slept through the night since a few months before she was born. Instead it's been a bit relief and a bit more torture. It hurts not to be able to comfort your child. It feels selfish to be happy that I'm well rested for once! Doesn't this seems odd? Even with all my feminist knowledge, I still feel like the bad mom! Realistically, I know I'm not a bad mother. I had no control over the kidney stones but the feeling is still there. It's not easy deprogramming yourself from these sexist societal beliefs.
I talk to my daughter as if she were an adult (except she responds in coos and giggles). I talk to her about what's going on. I am greatly thankful that she is so young and will have no memory of these hard times. I also hope that there is some (mild) suffering in her future so that she can genuinely understand the importance of feminism. I know that until now, I hadn't had such a profound understanding and intersectionality and I want this for her too.