No Better Than You!

Read me, I dare you!

It’s not about being single, it’s not about having a man or needing one. It’s not about being stubborn or unwilling to let people in.

I’m a single mother to a charming 12 year old boy. His smile lights up any room he enters. He is funny and makes me happy. But then there are those moments when I fail him, I fail myself and drop the ball. We aren’t perfect but we try.

I’ve been working since I was 14. I had him when I was sixteen and since then I’ve been a mother, a fighter a god damn warrior. I hold my head high even when I’m drowning. I look all put together when I’m shattered and torn to pieces.

When I say no, I feel bad. When I simply am stretched too thin and I can’t I feel bad for being unable. I make it to every conference, wipe every tear and comfort every concern or fear.

I’m shaping the heart of a future man. I’m setting the pace for who he should become. I don’t have testosterone, I lack manhood but still I try to instill the morals and conduct of a man to a little boy who is being raised by a mother who lacked a mother and father.

I stand head high, shoulders erect but the truth is some days I want to crawl into my own little hole because I’m my own army of one. I self soothe and tell myself every little thing is going to be alright but it’s not the same as having someone else tell you what you know to be true.

It’s not fair to tell a boy he’s the man of the house. It’s not fair to expect him to step up in more ways that he should. He shouldn’t be deprived of a simple childhood that simply requires him to be happy. So I brave the cold and put out fires on my own because he should never know of my struggles.

I’m not team single, I’m not team baby momma or daddy drama, I’m team mommy. I do everything in my power to keep my sons father involved and will no matter how tough it can be.

My son is a great kid but he is anxious and worries about everything that is going on, if he’s cornered he feels the need to fight back. He’s emotional and strong but he’s no Goliath. He’s not a straight A student but he’s the best student he can be. He’s facing a major block with attention but I always do my best to rear him in the right direction. He is not medicated but diversion and planning with a child like him is complicated. It’s tough, it requires effort and constant diligence.

I work, I study, but above all else, I parent. I don’t want pity and I’m not complaining I’m just stating facts. The facts about the walk of my life that most others will never know.

Simple facts that people who pass judgement may overlook for others who have their own stories to tell. I very rarely make comments or statements about arguments I know I’d lose to an idiot but enough is enough!

Welfare, drug screening and government assistance are hard topics but everyone is a critic and everyone has an opinion about a matter that they may have never experienced. Or perhaps they may have experienced but because they are no longer in dire straights they feel the self imposed right to give advice to families benefiting from their hard earned tax dollars. Suddenly because people have their best foot forward they forget the shit they had to step in to get there. People become insensitive and unkind all because, “if I did it you can too!”

Well here is something you all do not know. I lost my job in February of 2012, I spent almost a year unemployed before I found a job. I had a brand new car and prior to I was doing pretty good for a simple girl from Tampa who wore hand me downs as a child and got her first kid sister doll from a garage sale. I had a good reputation and long run in the child and maternal health field. I was Johanna Arroyo, a member of my community, a link to families and resources. I trained peers and worked with families from all walks of life and adversities. People let me into their homes and allowed me to touch their lives without judgement or superiority. I did it all because I loved it and suddenly after a decade of working in non-profits and social services I became the under served.

Was it unfair, sure but I wasn’t dying. I had my health and I had my boy. Things were different and I suddenly could not just rely on myself. You all are my friends, you know me, you encourage me and see the kind of person I am. I’m not lazy, I don’t mooch off the system, I don’t live off of others. In the year I spent unemployed I never missed a meal, the power remained on in my home but my dignity fell at the seams at times because of people much like all of you and me.

I went grocery shopping and as I pulled out my EBT card from my purse I saw the smirks of strangers because I clearly was living off of “their” hard earned money. I was a vagrant who was pulling my government assistance card from my designer satchel. They didn’t know I spent $65 dollars on it at the outlet store as a simple gift to myself while I was still employed. They didn’t know I was putting my groceries into my brand new 2012 car that I had purchased again when I was employed. They didn’t know this because they were so concerned about how hard they’ve worked in their lives they couldn’t lower their noses to realize that I too had busted my ass. They were simply focused on the negative stigmas of the needy. If I had wandered in looking torn and dirty I would probably have been more deserving. But no, I’m a proud woman in my character and appearance. I painted my nails with the polish I purchased, again, when I was employed and when I didn’t have enough money I washed the cute name brand clothes I owned by hand in my bathtub at night along with my sons school uniforms while he was sleeping. Clearly I wasn’t deserving of wearing some of the things I wore because I should be too poor to live off of them, those people who didn’t know me. See you all read my life, my posts and everything through your own eyes, you know of my footprints in the sand but they didn’t. The same is said for every other person out there trying to find their way back into self sufficiency, there exists someone out there who knows her story too. While we all try to figure out how and when they could afford it. They had to explain their expenses and have their life scrutinized down to every detail just to get a handful of assistance for their children.

The government should cut public assistance, the homeless need to find jobs because handing them a little bit of chump change is above us, I guess that is what everyone says but guess what, your hard earned money will be taken from one and will be redistributed and given to another. Instead your money, your tax dollars can build roads and construct buildings that the poor and less than privileged will ever be able to afford. That all somehow makes sense and keeping food on the table of families doesn’t because they didn’t earn it or work for it?! You all have mothers and fathers, if there is no struggle in your present or immediate history look above your parents and get to know your roots and figure out if you’re still willing to turn the other cheek. — feeling no better than anyone.

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