-Six Cheques Before I’m Homeless-
As a single mom I am, sadly, one of a growing trend. There was no dramatic exit, no abuse, just a lack of love and an agreement to separate. But, like many, this decision put me in a position of financial instability. As a woman in a partnership, I had made choices to put my son before my career. I had turned down promotions or job opportunities that would have meant less time with my child, secure in the understanding that my husband and I were making the right choices together for our family. Unfortunately, when the ‘together’ ends, the only things left are the choices.
When I consider my life, I am so grateful for my support system and the opportunities it has allowed me to pursue. My mother moved in with us, and shares not only the bills, but the child care. My son’s father is very generous with his time and money. But, what always sits in the back of my mind, eroding my happiness, is the image of my life as a see-saw; my ex on one end, my mother on the other, and the knowledge that all it would take to lose my stability is losing one of them. Realizing that you do not have the ability to support your son alone is a humbling and eye-opening revelation.
That fear was always an abstract idea before I came to work for the YWCA; the shadows that surrounded an impulse buy, or the twinge I felt at Christmas when I drove up my credit card balance. Meeting these women, and listening to their stories, has made me realize that the only thing that separates us, in many cases, is my good fortune and that see-saw.
When I sat down to consider how many pay cheques I could actually do without before I would be homeless, I came up with the number six. That’s two and a half months for me. Two and a half months before the debt would out-weigh my ability to pay. Two and a half months before people could stop seeing me as a person and start seeing me as a cautionary tale.
We are all these women. Separated by a little time or distance perhaps, but if you look closely enough you’ll see yourself reflected.
What’s your number?