## Tuesday, November 11, 2014

### Shit My Dad Says... The Hobo Equation

I don't think it needs to be mentioned yet again, but hey- you guys remember how my dad is like 87% hobo, right? In case you are wondering how I figured out that percentage, it's a very complicated Algebraic formula including the following variables:

v= number of days per year spent sleeping in your vehicle
c*= number of clothing items you own to the power of the number of layers you wear over each other, so as to be able to take one off daily and not appear to be wearing the same clothes as yesterday
s= stank (this variable has a direct relationship to c*)
g= number of gullible family members you can coerce into free living accommodations
t= number of teeth you currently have (Hobo Bill has the incredibly low score of 3 on this variable, drastically impacting his overall score)
f= your general ability to make even the most basic of financially responsible decisions.

Let's talk about factors v and f today. Vehicle and finances. I mean, I suppose when you're the type of person who prioritizes buying scratch-offs and foot long hot dogs at 7-11 over paying your rent, you can't really be expected to make sound financial choices. That said, one might assume that my dad's perpetual poorness would be directly reflected in his choice of vehicle. And for the most part, it has been. He's had a number of 200,000+ mileage metal shitboxes. Some he got for free. Some he "financed"- and by that I mean he talked a friend or family member into believing he would make payments on a car he wanted to buy from them, and then got pissed off when they actually, you know, expected him to make the payments.

There have been times when my dad has been without a car, but he's done a pretty good job of basically stealing cars from people over the years, and almost always has some sort of vehicle. The last car he had was something he was "making payments" on to some guy he knows. Last I heard, he still owed the guy \$1000 or so of the \$1500 total he was supposed to pay and was pretty pissed that the guy wouldn't leave him alone about it.

So. What do you do when you don't have money to pay the guy who sold you your car, you're behind on your rent, your car insurance check bounced and your car needs a bunch of repairs you can't afford?

I feel like you guys know my dad pretty well at this point, so I'm going to do this multiple choice:

a) work overtime and get back on track (HAHAHAHA)
b) panic as you realize you are in way over your head and turn to your old friend the lottery for   comfort
c) trade in the car you still owe money on and finance a nearly brand new car for 7 years

Did you guys say b? You overestimated my dad's concience. He doesn't actually care that he can't pay any of his debts. Dear old dad somehow managed to trade in his car for a 2012 Ford Focus.

So now he has two cars to pay off. And he has to pay for full coverage insurance, even though the bare bones insurance he used to have lapses basically every time it's due. It's a weird thing, the way my dad thinks of his car insurance. Most people think of their policy in terms of years. My policy, for example, is valid from April 2014-April 2015. My dad doesn't do that. He told me that his new car is insured "I'm not exactly sure... I think it's for the next two months". He treats his car insurance like an about-to-expire gym membership.

I also have to say, I don't feel bad for anyone who finances him a car when they inevitably get screwed over. You don't even need to get into the black hole that is his credit report to know this is not a man you can trust to make timely (or any) payments. As I said before, he has THREE teeth. My infant officially has more teeth than him. I just think that when someone with three teeth walks into your establishment and tries to convince you that they can afford the payments on a spankin' new vehicle, you have to realize that if they can't afford plastic teeth, they definitely cannot afford basically anything. Except maybe applesauce.

In any case, my immediate reaction when he went into full-on bragging mode about his new car (I feel like it's important here to remind you that he's bragging about owning a Ford Focus), was to scold him for being an idiot:

Me: But dad, aren't you still paying off the other car?
Me: Well isn't it a problem that you now have to pay off 2 cars?
Me: Yeah, I get that. Except for the part where it gets repossessed in 2 months and then you have no car at all and you still have to pay off your old one.
Dad: No, I'm going to pay it.
Me: HOW?
Dad: Well, my old car needed 2 catalytic converters. Those things are like \$1000 each. I couldn't afford that. This car is NEW, so it won't need any repairs.
Me: So you couldn't afford to repair your old car so you just bought a new one?
Dad: That wasn't the only thing. My old car didn't have any gas in it and I didn't have gas money. This one came with a full tank.

So yes. My dad thought it was a good idea to buy a new car because HE COULDN'T AFFORD GAS OR REPAIRS FOR HIS OLD ONE. I guess it's a good thing those Ford Focus's run on broken dreams.

## Monday, October 20, 2014

### Alive and Mostly Well

A while back I received an anonymous comment. This person simply mentioned that I hadn't blogged in a while and hoped that all was well. It meant a lot, to know that some lovely stranger on the internet was worrying about me, hoping that I was well, hoping that all the shit that's been weighing me down has somehow been resolved.

So, anonymous, I wanted to take a moment to reply. I'm ok. Alive. More convinced than ever that I have a superhuman ability to carry on through the absolute worst of times. Man, that sounds depressing.

Right now I'm still in a state of limbo. Still awaiting some sort of satisfactory resolution. But I will say that I've begun to find some sense of equilibrium again. I've managed to take the bad things and hold them out, on their own, away from the good. To not let those things taint the very amazing parts of my life. Because there are plenty of those too.

My girls are happy, they are growing. Caitlyn started preschool this year and she's doing amazingly well. She loves it. Alexandra, at just 10 and a half months old, took her first steps a week ago. She's smart and smiley and the nosiest child I've ever seen in my entire life. When they are together, interacting and in their own private sister world, I can't help but smile ear-to-ear. I could not ask for a better big sister for Alex than Caitlyn. They adore each other and watching that unfold on a day to day basis fills my heart to the point that I think it might burst and shoot out fucking rainbows and unicorns and shit. When I think about the mistakes I've made and the regrets I have, it's easy to get caught up in the could have and would have's. But then I'll look at my girls playing together, or Caitlyn feeding Alex a little bite of her snack or a little drink of her juice and I can't help but think it's worth every second of disaster I've invited into my life.

I'm hoping to have more resolution soon, but I'm finally starting to be able to put aside everything the moment I'm not actively dealing with it and just be myself again. I'm mending my relationship with Rodolfo. Our family feels good, happy, normal- at least most of the time.

I'm hoping that once I'm done being endlessly in limbo that I'll be back to posting regularly again. I have so much to tell. I won't make any promises for now, except for one: We will be ok no matter what happens.

Thank you all so much for being here, despite that fact that I have not.

## Tuesday, June 10, 2014

### By Way of Explanation...

I feel that I'm at a point where I owe you guys an explanation for my prolonged absence. And so here it is:

Last year, I got pregnant unexpectedly, by someone I didn't know very well. I had been separated from my husband and I made a mistake. A big one.
During the course of my pregnancy, it became very clear that this man, despite all his claims that he would support my decision to keep our baby, did not want to be a father. There was the time he asked me to move in with him and then provided me with a list of things I would not be allowed to do in his home (including that I would be required to sleep on a mattress on the floor because his dog was not able to jump up onto a regular bed and he didn't want to inconvenience his dog). There was the time we took my older daughter to the fair and he was angry with me for a week afterwards because we spent all our time there doing what my 3 year old wanted to do and not what HE wanted to do. There were the first 3 or 4 times he mentioned how much he had wished I had an abortion. I felt disregarded and disrespected, and I knew it just wouldn't work. We broke up just shy of the 4th month of my pregnancy.
Still, he claimed he wanted to be involved, and I tried to let him be. A week after deciding that our relationship could not sustain the pressure of a pregnancy so early, I had an ultrasound appointment and learned we would have a daughter. I was thrilled to give my older daughter a new baby sister. He was considerably less so. We left the appointment and he began to argue with me. He was angry that I had ended the relationship. He regretted getting me pregnant. And then he said the words that would guide the decisions that brought me to the point I am today- just minutes after leaving an ultrasound appointment and finding out that he would be a dad to a beautiful baby girl in a few short months- he asked me for the last time if I would have an abortion.
I was appalled. And devastated. It's one thing to be 6 weeks into an unplanned pregnancy and have the man who put you in that position suggest an abortion. It was quite another to be 16 weeks and have him say it 5 minutes after finding out he would be having a daughter. To make matters worse, he knew very well that I had suffered through first infertility and then the devastating stillbirth of my first child with my husband. I just couldn't believe he could be so callous.
As the weeks went by, he apologized and I did my best to forgive him. I told him he could keep coming to my doctor's appointments. He told me he really loved our baby. After things settled down and I had some time to think about my new daughter and what I should name her, I told him that, because we were unmarried and I wanted her to share a last name with her sibling, I would give her my married last name. He flipped out. He threatened me. He went behind my back and contacted members of my family trying to convince them to talk me out of it because "kids always have their dad's last name". And then he told me he didn't believe she was his after all. That his sister had questioned it all along, and that his mom was sure I was a "gold digger", just trying to get at his money.

I had enough. I cut off all contact from that point. And then I told my husband everything- that I had gotten pregnant, that the guy kept pressuring me to have an abortion, that I didn't know what to do. He was there for me and it saved our relationship. We got back together. He told me he would be there for my new daughter as well. And her biological dad never attempted to make contact after that for my entire pregnancy.
My second daughter was born in December of 2013- healthy and happy with two parents who would love her unconditionally, and a big sister who was never so excited about anything in her entire life as the arrival of our new baby.
I sent a text to her biological dad shortly after her birth and told him that I had taken a paternity test and that she was my husband's baby. A mistake, in retrospect, but what I truly believed he wanted to hear at the time. Two weeks later, I received a summons to appear in court for another paternity test. He didn't want her, he never asked about her, and now he was going to drag my family into a courtroom.
Nothing has been the same since then. We have been in and out of court since then, and he's done everything in his power to make our lives unbearable. He's lied about everything.
He currently has 5 days a week visitation based on the premise that he mostly works weekends and would be home with her while I'm at work. She spends 2/3 of that time in daycare. The fact that she's being kept away from her sister to spend time with strangers in daycare is apparently irrelevant. As is the fact that he's quite maliciously left all my contact information out of the daycare center's records, and refuses to list me as so much as an emergency contact/pick up person. I found that little detail out not because I showed up in the middle of the day and tried to take her, but because I was calling on a daily basis to get information about her feedings and naps and diaper changes because he was refusing to give me this information and was eventually told I would need to speak to the director, because they were uncomfortable telling me anything, because I was essentially a stranger to them. In fact, the director confirmed this to me almost verbatim- "as far as I'm concerned he is the parent and you are a stranger".
I should probably mention, though it's probably obvious, that I did not have any say in choosing the daycare center. His mother and sister work there and so it was arbitrarily decided by him, and approved by a judge without so much as a word about what that would mean for my rights.
The situation continues to escalate on a nearly daily basis. What started as rude comments and a demanding attitude, has turned into him making an array false accusations in a courtroom, all while claiming that I lack credibility to deny them because I told him that baby wasn't his after her birth. It has escalated into screaming matches when I ask where my daughter is, and who will be caring for her at any given time.
It has escalated to the point that, after I asked him to pay a couple of medical bills for my daughter (after having \$1200 worth of medical expenses since her birth), he got inches from my face and berated me for a full five minutes. And at that point, I had had enough. I went to the police station and filed for a temporary restraining order. I was sick and tired of being screamed at and disrespected for simply asking about my child, or expecting him to commit to an equal amount of responsiblility and not just the equal rights he keeps demanding (despite getting every single thing he's asked for, he continues to claim I'm keeping her away from him and being uncooperative).
And that's where we are at today. Or actually, just a little past it. Yesterday was the hearing for my restraining order. It had been 12 days since my temporary one had been granted and this was a hearing to ask that it be made permanent.
My request was not granted. Rather, I spent two hours being accused of lying. I got my very justifiable fear and discomfort put on display and mocked. I got asked if I was illiterate. And in the end, I left court with the promise that my filing for a restraining order for an incident that he claims never happened, would be used against me at our upcoming hearing to amend the visitation schedule and order child support.
He told me he will take her. He told me he will get custody. He told me he will get overnights with her and he doesn't care if she's breastfeeding and he doesn't care if it's not best for her. He doesn't care if it hurts my older daughter. All he cares about is making me pay for my mistake.
I'm terrified. This man is making my life hell, and at this point I feel like I'm not even able to report his scary behavior and outbursts of rage because I will get called a liar and it will be used against me. And that was sort of my jumping off point for why I felt it was time to really sit down and explain why I've been missing. Because I'm afraid, and I want it out there that I'm afraid of HIM.

## Monday, March 3, 2014

### Nightmare

I'm a giant ball of anxiety today. Unfortunately, I can't really get into too many details yet because this is too public and I made the mistake of telling too many people irl about my blog.

But here's the thing. When you have a baby with someone by accident, someone you barely know, it's kind of fucking terrifying. With Rodolfo, I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew his flaws but I also knew all the reasons he would be a good dad. And he's still a good dad. In fact, he's been a good dad to both of my girls. I'm lucky in that way, because despite everything, despite the fact that I accidentally got knocked up barely a year after we split, he hasn't let me go through this alone. He hasn't watched me struggle- emotionally, financially- and thought to himself "not my problem". To think about it now, to say I knew his flaws before we ever had a child, isn't giving him nearly enough credit. Because I did know his flaws, but I realize now that I never gave him nearly enough credit for how deeply good he is at his core. Despite it being in his nature to be harsh sometimes, judgmental even, when it came down to it, Rodolfo has been there for me. And I probably didn't deserve it.

On the other hand, I have Alex's bio dad. The one who has fought me every step of the way. The one who questioned her paternity the moment he didn't get his way. The one who went behind my back and tried to turn my own family against me (Ha. Good luck with that one, asshole). The one who forced me to go to court to prove her paternity, but has not before or since once asked about her well being, has not once offered to buy her a diaper, has not once made the time to meet her. He is the guy who, when we are due back in court in a couple of weeks, will paint me as the bad guy who kept him away without even so much as a drop of self-reflection on his own shitty behavior.

The worst part, the part that is giving me nightmares and stomach cramps and a constant sense of dread, is the fact that, in the end, he will still have rights to her. He will still get to see her. He will still fight me every step of the way despite never showing a drop of genuine love or attachment to her. Because that is who he is. He's that guy who always gets his way, always proves he's "right", always justifies his own flaws. And I have to hand her over to this man who I do not trust. My baby, who I love more than life itself, I have to give her to him and walk away and try to hold it together and not show him how scared and sad and desperate I am, because that will only further motivate him to spite me. I have to explain to Caitlyn why her sister leaves us at regular intervals to go stay with a stranger who has barely acknowledged her existence.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm emotional. I'm doing everything I can to put on a brave face and I'm failing.

Please, wish me luck in the coming weeks. I'm going to need it.

## Tuesday, February 25, 2014

### A Dating Profile for Dear Old Dad

I'm dealing with some difficult shit right now. Rather than talk about it, I've decided to make fun of my dad some more. It's like meditation for me:

I've said it before and I'll say it again- my dad is kinda the worst. He's been calling a lot lately- and by that I mean when he has money to put minutes on his prepaid phone. Because he is a grown man with a prepaid phone. No offense to prepaid phone users or anything, but unless you're artfully dodging a handful of baby mommas/bill collectors/lawyers, a grown up should have, at the very least, a monthly cell phone plan. You ain't gotta be fancy and pay Verizon \$100 a month. T-mobile will set you up for a cool \$35. That's the part that makes it especially sad though. Despite owing so much money to SO many people, he WANTS them to call him. He wants to self-righteously rant at them about how he can't afford to pay and that is... somehow... their problem, apparently. In fact, this whole rant today started out because he had given out MY phone number to one of his bill collectors (again) and I'm annoyed about it.

Anyway. I've decided I need to find someone to take him off my hands. He hasn't had a girlfriend since my mom left him 20 something years ago. I think it's time to take him into the new millenium with online dating! I mean, sure he claims he's "tried it" before. But only when E-Harmony is having a free weekend. Because those other dating sites? Girls send him DIRTY messages and pictures of themselves dressed like whores! He's not that kind of hobo. In any case, honesty is important, so I think I'll take care of his profile for him. I mean, everyone lies on their dating profile, but you can't really trust a sociopath to be even close to honest. If I want to find him a lady life partner, I'm gonna have to lay his true self on the line:

Name:
Bill. AKA Hobo Bill. AKA Tubby.

Description:
Surprisingly young looking for 60. I suppose it's easy to get fewer gray hairs and wrinkles when you refuse to deal with any of your problems and dump them on everyone you know. One place where his lack of responsibility might show though, is right in the chompers. His teeth. He has none. I mean, fake teeth are totally expensive and he had some this one time but then he bit into a really hot slice of pizza while walking through a parking lot and accidentally spit them out onto the ground and then they got run over (what, that hasn't happened to you?). Clothes and feet are always sparkling clean with the scent of bleach though. Maybe a little faded, but it's totally worth it. Also, sometimes he wears multiple layers of clothing at once, so as to be able to remove the outside layer daily and have on a clean outfit. By the time he gets to that innermost outfit, he's fresh as a goddamn daisy.

Likes:
• Not paying for anything, ever
• Gambling
• Berating people who are just doing their job
• Sensationalized news stories
• Welfare fraud
• Talking about himself and greatly exaggerating absolutely every aspect of his existence on this planet as a human being
• Bleach
• Using the ER as a means to get his blood pressure medication
• Bahama Mamas (the giant hot dogs from 7-11, not the drink)
• Feeling 100% justified in stealing from his employer because "I had no money to eat with" even though he's totally getting food stamps

Dislikes:
• Paying for anything, ever
• The government- judges in particular because WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE, JUDGING HIM???
• Immigrants, because they are totally stealing all the CEO jobs he would have if they just went back to their country. And also because they get pissed when he sleeps in his car outside their 7-11 store.
• Gays. "I don't hate gay people. I just think they shouldn't be allowed to get married or have kids because then the kids will be gay because they will only see gay stuff and think that's normal"
• Legitimate welfare recipients. Oh, you think you're SO important just because you're not using this money to buy scratch-offs!
What He's Looking For:
A lovely lady to take care of him. And by "take care of", obviously I mean fuel his gambling problem while providing a free place for him to live a life of luxury. He'd also really like it if you didn't mind him being enormously ungrateful for all of this. In fact, I'd say any expectation of graciousness on his part whatsoever is probably going to be a dealbreaker. He's also really like it if you wouldn't mind him sitting on your couch unbathed about 90% of the time, while he watches Fox News and dozes in and out of conciousness while loudly snoring.

So ladies, message me if you'd like to meet him, and I'll let you know when he has minutes on his phone.

## Wednesday, January 1, 2014

### Baby Bunny: The Many Ways My Second Child Has Made Me Realize I Was Crazy When I Had My First

Baby Alexandra was born on December 3rd.

I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to having a newborn again. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true. In part, I blame my sister, whose new baby boy was born at the end of October and whose Facebook feed after his birth was a train wreck of miserable-sounding updates about how whiny and difficult her new baby was.

It got me thinking about Caitlyn's first few months on this Earth. I would never say she was a bad baby, but I do remember feeling overwhelmed by her needs. She seemed to always need something- a bottle, a diaper change, a burp, non-specific comfort. Add to that sleep deprivation and the fact that she wouldn't latch so I was pumping my breastmilk every 2 hours, and it felt like a never-ending cycle where I didn't even have time to take a shower. And I had help back then. Rodolfo and I were living together, and he brought his parents to stay with us for the first month after Caitlyn was born.

So I was thinking of all of this. Of the neediness. Of not having someone always around to help. Of having to do all that newborn baby, needy meatloaf shit while simultaneously taking care of my 3 year old. And I was a little freaked out.

And then my new baby came and I realized all that freaking out was for nothing. She's totally sweet and easy and mellow. Also? I realized that I was kind of a paranoid fucking crazy person when I had my first daughter. Here are some other lessons I learned:

1. Taking a shower isn't negligent parenting. No newborn baby ever died/was ruined for life because they woke up during mommy's 10 minute shower and cried for a few minutes while she was busy washing crusted breastmilk off her nipples and making sure her c-section incision didn't end up infected because she hadn't showered in a week. Also? That hilarious nonsense where I'd put Caitlyn in her bouncy seat and bring it into the bathroom with me just to be sure she didn't smother herself in her crib while I showered? No thanks. She couldn't even fucking move. What did I really expect was going to happen? And another thing about that- if the baby starts crying while I shampoo my hair, I'm not going to stop shampooing my hair out of guilt (and you can only really hear them crying if you bring them in the bathroom with you anyway). Wait 5 minutes kid, I promise you'll survive.

2. Everyone thinks you are a moron when you have a newborn. And I'm not just talking about well-meaning old grannies on the street who want to tell you all the ways in which your baby isn't warm enough. I'm talking about the very first people you encounter after having the baby- the hospital staff. Man, do they ever think you're an idiot. And the first time, they are sorta right. As a first-time mom, I remember listening so intently to every ridiculously obvious piece of advice they gave me at the hospital. Sure, a lot of it seemed like common sense, but in the same way, a lot of it was stuff that never even occurred to me to think about. This time? Did I really need to attend the "mandatory" class the hospital expects you to take before you leave? Thanks, but I already knew that I shouldn't leave my newborn on a counter and walk away. I already knew that I should burp her halfway through a feeding. And, presumably everyone attending this class has been tending to a vagina on a regular basis for a minimum of 15-20 years, right? What grown ass woman needs it explained to her that she should be "wiping front to back" when changing diapers? Because really, that's just a delicate way of saying "you know you shouldn't smear shit into your infant daughter's vagina, right?". WE SHOULD ALL KNOW THIS ALREADY!

3. Neediness of the baby variety is significantly less impressive to me this time around. As I said, with Caitlyn, it was a big transition going from doing whatever the fuck I wanted to constantly putting the needs of another person ahead of my own. It was overwhelming. Now? Well, I have to say, the needs of my 3 year old greatly outnumber the needs of my newborn. The baby? Food, sleep, fresh diapers. That is literally it. Sometimes she wants to be held and sometimes she's got a fart stuck in her belly that she's trying to get out, but other than that, she needs very little from me. Caitlyn, on the other hand, needs more than just basic life necessities. So in addition to having to make sure she is fed, clothed, and bathed, there are about a million other needs she has: Every single toy she sees on a commercial, for example (or Bulova watch on a billboard, for that matter. She's in an I-want-literally-everything-I-see phase). A glass of water the exact moment my head hits the pillow to go to sleep. Chocolate milk in her Happy Meal, even though I explicitly asked her multiple times and she insisted she wanted apple juice. And those are just some physical needs. Her emotional needs are endless and I'm expected to solve every existential crisis of her 3 year old life- why is the sky blue, what is that dog doing to that other dog, why can't I have a lollipop before dinner, why do I even have to eat dinner, why can't I look at my vagina in a public place, why does his mommy let him do stuff that my mommy doesn't let me do- WHY ARE YOU SUCH A MEAN MOMMY?? In the end, I'll do anything for my girls. That's what I signed up for when I signed up for being a mom. It's just funny in retrospect to think about how overwhelmed I was by providing only the most basic of needs for a cute, smooshy little meatball that couldn't even move (let alone throw a temper tantrum, or actively disobey me) when I put her down somewhere.

4. Sleep deprivation is another thing that was utterly jarring the first time around. Now? Well kid, I haven't had an uninterrupted night of sleep in 4 years, and you're out cold 20 hours a day. Come at me. I can handle it just fine.

I think back to that, to how laughable her "injury" was and how terrified I was that she wouldn't survive it without medical intervention, and I realize how far I've come. I was never really the hysterical type, and once Caitlyn started walking and injuring herself every 12 seconds or so, I really developed a "shake it off" mentality. In fact, Caitlyn will tell me she's shaking it off now if she gets a little bump or bruise.

I bring this last one up because of what we are going through right now. I don't think I could have handled it if it had happened to Caitlyn. I would have been writing checks to Jesus that my base faith level simply couldn't cash. Baby Alexandra, at 26 days old, got admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. She had some nasal congestion and was sneezing for a couple of days leading up to it, and I had brought her to the pediatrician, who gave me a nebulizer and saline solution to try to break up her congestion. And then a day or so later she spiked a fever and came down with a horrible cough. I followed up with a second visit 2 days after I took her initially, and got sent immediately to the ER. After a chest x-ray, some bloodwork, and a lumbar puncture, it was determined that Alex has RSV- a common respiratory infection that still would have sucked had she been a little older when she got it, but it probably wouldn't have ended up turning into pneumonia over the course of a day or two. So we've been in the hospital, and she was admitted to the pediatric ICU a few days ago, when her breathing got considerably worse and she wasn't able to breathe well enough to even eat. But we've made a lot of progress since then and we hope to be going home in a day or two. She's a tough little cookie, just like her sister, and she's fighting this with everything she's got.

So that's my update. I had that baby I was telling you guys about. What's that? Pictures you say? Why, of course there are pictures.

## Monday, December 2, 2013

We've established that I was really poor as a kid. Welfare poor. The major reason for this was my dad. My useless, transient hobo with a gambling problem dad. It took my mom quite a few years to come to the realization that being on her own with 4 kids would actually be significantly easier than staying with him and trying to take care of us.

That said, we were still really poor. Except that single mothers of 4 kids can get help from the government instead of just living in a van and eating dinner out of vending machines like we did when we lived with my dad. And so we were on welfare, and food stamps, and eventually we were able to get into subsidized housing. You know, the projects. My mom still worked- mostly for our landlord to pay off our rent in the many years while we waited to get into housing we could afford. And then cleaning bars and homes and stuffing envelopes for our (by then) ex-landlord and a handful of her colleagues for 2 cents per envelope. Guys? Doing anything for 2 cents a piece is basically slave labor. I remember my mom staying up 24, 48 hours straight- sometimes longer- and making a whopping \$25 for 2 straight days of work.

My point is that my mom busted her ass. Because she had to and because she would do anything for us. Because my dad didn't pay a single dime in child support, basically ever (the occasions he managed to collect unemployment where child support was taken out- much to his dismay- automatically, were like bonus time in our family). Because she couldn't afford child care and so she had to work odd jobs for next to nothing just so we could survive. I've always respected how hard she worked for us. As a parent myself now, it's really jarring to look back on it and see it from her perspective. As a kid, I knew we didn't have much money. I knew a lot of times I couldn't have something I wanted because we couldn't afford it. Hand-me-down clothes were the usual. Nothing about it seemed particularly hard for me as a child because it was all I ever knew. But now, as a parent? I look at how much I stress about making sure I can afford things that are luxuries- DVR and Christmas photo shoots- how I don't want Caitlyn to miss out on those things that aren't really going to hurt her in the long run- and I can't help but imagine what it must have been like for my mom to not be able to afford food and milk and diapers. Because, as the poet Eminem once said "these goddamn food stamps don't buy diapers". Preach, brother.

None of this is really the point though. We've already established that I hold my mother in the same regard as saints. Probably higher, actually. My point is that, through all of this- through quite literally nearly killing herself because she was taking care of 4 kids alone- my father always judged our lifestyle. On the occasions he came around (it was much less so when we were kids- I'm assuming because none of us had couches he could crash on yet), he always had rude comments about what my mom wasn't giving to us. Nevermind the fact that he hadn't contributed anything of value for the entirety of our childhood. He couldn't believe my mom had us living in the projects (apparently sleazy motels were much better)! He looked down at his nose at her for feeding us with food stamps (Oh, how she enjoyed those 1st of the month, 3 mile walks to and from the grocery store!). He particularly hated the fact that she was on welfare. He always thought himself far too good for welfare. Or maybe it just especially annoyed him because he was more likely to end up with an arrest warrant for not paying his child support when the money was owed to welfare. My point is that he would show up, and he would judge us. He would promise to get us out of such horrible conditions (and back into the shitty motels/homeless shelters we deserved!). He treated my mom as though all she was doing wasn't enough for his standards. Ironic.

Anyway. My dad stopped by for a visit a couple of weekends ago. I could tell he had some money in his pockets, because he wasn't using what I like to refer to as his "kill yourself" tone of voice for everything he said. I didn't even have to ask before he started telling me why. You guys? He's on welfare. And food stamps. And he is inexplicably getting rental assistance which has been approved through AUGUST. He is a 60 year old man who has never held a steady job, has pissed away every dime he's ever earned through his gambling addiction, has abused the kindness and asked favors of every single person he has ever known (his own children included), and passionately HATES "the system" for ever pursuing him for his obligations to his 4 children. And yet, he is happily abusing it now (and trust me, abusing is the right word. He openly admitted to winning \$2000 on the lottery- he spent his WELFARE money on fucking lottery tickets!).

The worst part isn't even that he's abusing a service that he frequently judged my mom for needing while he contributed nothing during my childhood. The worst part is that he bitched about how inconvenient receiving welfare has been for him. You guys? Welfare asks questions. Like whether or not you are looking for a job. So RUDE! Also, he didn't even WANT welfare. He just wanted food stamps and rental assistance but they totally insisted on giving him welfare too. Ugh. And then, omg he totally had to sit in the welfare office for TWO STRAIGHT DAYS- he was even the LAST person they took on his second day of waiting- before they gave him a fucking free ride for the forseeable future. Tacky, welfare. So tacky. The customer is always right, you know. And the customer shouldn't have to wait 2 whole days that they definitely weren't going to spend at work, waiting around for your free money. And food. And housing.

Anyway. I digress. It's just that sometimes you are going through your own personal struggles. Real struggles, scary struggles, and you find you have to pull yourself up and realize that, well, you got yourself into this mess and you're just going to have to deal with it now. You'll be okay eventually. And then some jackass who is just begging to be dead to you comes to your house and bitches about how inconvenient he found his trip to the welfare office, and you have to hold yourself back from punching him in the face. On the upside, he did give me a red plastic Solo cup full of change though. Totally makes up for that whole "absentee father" thing.