Thursday, January 15, 2015

Be Kind to the Mommy with the WIC Checks



Today (well, yesterday) my family has been blessed beyond measure (for the Bible tells me so).

Today I get to get to tear up my WIC checks!

For those of you who may not know what WIC (Women Infants & Children) checks are, they are government issued checks for certain healthy grocery staples each month for families with pregnant moms and/or children under 5.

They provide milk, cheese, eggs, vegetables, peanut butter, tuna fish, cereals, and bags of dry beans.

Since I have always been (well) employed, I did not qualify until I became pregnant with my youngest.

Between three under five, a job switch for a better opportunity (and a slight pay cut), our WIC checks became a necessity each month to feed our young family.

Growing up in a family where government assistance, of any kind, was seen less than acceptable, I kept this a secret from my family (although maybe they suspected anyways) and felt miserable about it for the first couple months, even though there were months that the milk provided (and downed by my boys) came only from here. I saw it as a necessary “evil” and that it was all I could do, as I honestly was eligible, as an extension of care for my family.

I spoke with some mentors, miserable, as I told them my secret.

I wondered, if by using the checks, I was sinning.

If I was not allowing God to provide.

If I had too little faith for God to provide for my family.

They answered with the same love that they offer again and again to my family.

“Kaitlin,” they said matter-of-factly, “If you got sick, and you took medicine, are you “not trusting God?” Are you “without faith?””

A huge weight was off my shoulders.

Of course not!

I believe that God is all-powerful, but I believe in our God-given ability to help ourselves as well.

The next two years there were months where we didn’t need any of the checks.

There were months we did.

So, my purpose of this blog, as I leave this chapter of my life behind (AMEN), is to remind you all, the next time you’re standing behind a mommy at the check-out line with WIC checks, a little about her.

Because it was me the day before yesterday.

Sometimes that mommy is just like me.

#1. She (or her husband) has a full time job. With benefits.

                She can’t just “get a job.” She has one. Period. It’s still not quite enough in this economy. Yes, she made a “choice” to have children, but is that really your business? Try and start that conversation with me. I dare you.

#2. She has a smart phone.

                Nothing makes my blood BOIL faster than the "memes" that condescendingly picture a girl at the check-out with a smart phone and food stamps (let’s be honest, WIC checks are glorified food stamps).
             
               She has a smart phone. For the first year of my WIC experience that smart phone was a company phone. Because I had a job

                For the second year, I had a smart phone. Because I had a job. And kids. And a husband. This isn’t rocket science people.

                You try going to the store and asking for a non-smart phone. They have charges for not having a smart phone. Sure, they don’t call them “Charges for Not Having a Smart Phone.” But seriously, it’s the same price. AND, if you want to be able to call your regional, be a contactable human being (necessary when you have a job (have I said that enough?)), you need a phone. And probably a smart one.

#3. Why doesn’t she / or the stay-at-home parent work?

                Have you SEEN daycare prices today?! Oh, and assistance for that, yeah, if you have a job you don’t qualify. Even if you’re flipping burgers. It’s a shame.

We have been since blessed with a job for my husband (and a schedule) that will allow for the children to be in daycare only 2-days a week now. If we had to pay for full time day care, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, because we’d still be using/qualifying for WIC.

P.s. notthatitsanyofyourbusinessthankyouverymuch

#4. SHE is annoyed with how long it takes her to get through the check-out line

                TRUST ME. We get how long its taking. We get that each check (for like 3 items) has to be a separate transaction, and that the staff usually is WAY undertrained on how to process them.

                We get it.

                We’re really sorry.

                We’re WAY more uncomfortable than you.

                Please don’t scowl or sigh or roll your eyes or aggressively switch lanes while doing all three.

                Ouch.

AND, another fun fact, sometimes the mommy at the check-out stand ISN’T me.

Did you know that (at least in California) if you are a foster mommy and/or daddy of a child under 5 you automatically qualify for checks for those children?

Yeah.

Think of THAT next time you internally sigh at the mommy in nice clothing in front of you using WIC checks.

She just might be buying an extra gallon of milk and some cheese to feed the child with PTSD from years of infantile abuse that she has chosen to welcome into her home. Into her family.

Now, here’s what YOU can do!

#1 (and this one is SO EASY): Smile.

That’s right; just smile. Don’t switch lines when she pulls out her checks.

Talk to her baby. Tell her how cute her baby is.

Tell her what a patient mommy she must be! (this actually happened to me last week and it MADE MY DAY!)

Tell her you remember how tough it was being a young mommy when milk wasn’t $5.50 a gallon.

#2. This is my dream.

My dream is, in many years, to be behind a mommy (or, God willing, many mommies!) and as she pulls out her WIC checks and presents them to the cashier, I hand her a $20.00 bill, and I tell her to save that check for later in the month.

She won’t take it, so you’ll probably have to hand it to the cashier.

You guys this discussion isn’t about “who deserves what.”

Or maybe it is.

We mommies, all of us, deserve to be treated like humans.

Just like any other mommy in the check-out line.

We’re all in the trenches.

And, you know nothing about her.

SO, please, the next time you’re in Raley’s, please remember this.

We are so uncomfortable up there.

We know what you think of us.

Please change that. We are desperately trying to change our situation.

God will provide for us. We know that.

But right now, we need to get milk in the fridge and into our babies’ bellies.

And no amount of scowling will stop us from doing that.


But a knowing smile, will go, believe me, MILES.

Yes, there are people who abuse these systems. 

But sometimes, and I would argue more often than not, they are mommies just like me and families just like us. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Christmas Blog That I Need to Read

Have you ever heard the phrase, “With great privilege comes great responsibility?”

I don’t know who said it first.

I don’t care to Google it.

I know my Dad said it from time to time.

It’s a good one.

I, like every other mother on this planet, have the unbelievable gift and privilege of my children.

But sometimes, being a mother during the holidays, well it’s mommahood amped up on sugar cookies.

Literally.

Have you also heard the phrase, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”

Isn’t that so true? I think husbands think that phrase means that they are supposed to say “Yes, dear.” Because if they don’t, we’ll be unhappy and the whole mood of the house changes.

Somehow, we aren’t just responsible for ribbon and wrapping and dinner and … x and y and z.

We are also, in a way, responsible for the very mood and attitude of our home.

Quite honestly, that is extremely and utterly overwhelming somedays, especially as Christmas rolls in.

Motherhood is a constant push from the Lord to serve, and serve, and oh, yeah serve some more.

I don’t have any hair ties left.

Haven’t for about a week.

Have been to about 60 stores in the last week.

Haven’t thought about buying a pack.

It’s like that.

I’m not writing this to be yet another exhausting mommy martyr on the internet. 

It’s what we signed up for, and truly it is my greatest joy.

I’m just writing this to virtually hug another mother (like me) who is struggling with, on top of everything else, the seemingly unbearable weight of “creating” another Christmas out of digging and scraping patience and calm and Silent Nights out of our shaking and failing will.

There is absolutely some truth to Mom being the glue that keeps each day moving from one to the next.

And I know without a doubt that if my attitude is terrible, my family’s is as well.

That is a burden. But, as the saying goes, with great privilege comes great responsibility.

But I know that if I really seek out that responsibility and that attitude that I need this holiday season, it is not to come from me or from my to-do list.

To truly find peace and to truly extend hospitality and grace and to be a part of what the Lord has called me to be, I must seek Him first and only.

I have to put my to-do list down.

I have to hug my kids one more time.

I have to rub my husband’s shoulders.

I have to wash another plate.

And another.

And wipe the baby’s sweat from his fever.

And I must do it all for the Kingdom.

That my home might offer a respite for the weary.

For those that this great privilege is a dream that seems out of reach.

For if I do not exude Christ this holiday it’s not even about my family being unhappy.

It’s about lost souls not getting found.

My family, to a certain degree, and please don’t misunderstand this, is a distraction from what is really going on in the Kingdom.

What is really my responsibility is not to create an instagram feed worthy Christmas.

What is really my responsibility is not even to create a Jesus worthy Christmas (whatever that is).

What is really my responsibility is to create a place in my heart for Jesus to create, again, His Christmas.

That is all.

I’m going to say that again.

That. Is. All.



My prayers are with you mommas this holiday and know that I am with you and that Jesus is with you too.

Our families are more than our little ones waiting to unwrap Jesus' love on Christmas Day.

They are our flock. Lead them and guide them well. 

It's not about us. It's just...not. 

Just like it's not about anyone else.

Except for Christ. And Christ in us. Immanuel. God with us. 

Be strengthened today!