I am a 51-year -ld single mother of a 6-year-old boy who has some special needs. He is a very smart, sweet kid with quirks, including anxiety and some traits on the autism spectrum. I have six older children who are all adults, and doing quite well. Seven months ago, my son and I moved from Maine to Missoula, Montana. We moved from one economically depressed area to another.
It has been very hard. Immediately upon moving, 40 percent of the support I had been getting disappeared and was replaced by a very unfortunate custody fight. Up until the move, we did all right, getting our rent paid and being able to have all of our bills paid while enjoying a few luxuries.
This has not been the case since we moved, and finding a job with all of the ever-changing court dates and such has been impossible. It is hard to support even a family of two on $500/mo, which doesn’t even pay the rent. Here are some issues that I’d like to see President Obama discuss during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 25.
1. The Creation of New Jobs
The unemployment rate in Montana is high. There are few jobs to be found, and even fewer that fit within the schedule of a single mom with a young child who really needs her to be home when he is home. I am not looking to get rich. I simply want to be able to find a job that allows us to pay the bills, and breathe a little. Having to worry so each month about money is very stressful, and I know that I am not the only person sweating it. Lots of people need jobs. How does Obama plan to create them?
2. Stimulation of the Economy
I decided that cleaning houses would be a perfect job for right now, so I could be home for my son. I offered not just cleaning, but cooking, mending, gardening, and anything else a person didn’t want to do. Many people would love to avail themselves of my services, but no one has any money to do so. Even the people who used to have money do not have any money right now. I began asking $15/hr, then ended up offering a $30 flat rate for a morning of house cleaning; I do a good job. It is pretty sad when $30/wk is too steep a rate for a fully cleaned house. I would love to hear Obama tell me how he plans to goose this very sluggish economy.
3. Education Options
My son is in Kindergarten, and goes to public school. I have no problem with public schools, but I got spoiled by my older kids, who all went to private schools and who are now all very successful adults. My 6-year-old is one bright and creative kid, and while he is certainly being taught by loving people in public school, the method of delivery is just so different from what my other kids saw.
In private schools, parental involvement is not just encouraged, it is almost mandatory. I also never saw any of my kids bring home anything that remotely resembled a worksheet or a page from a coloring book. I now see a lot of worksheets. Creativity and individuality are not being encouraged a whole lot. I’d like to see Obama discuss ways in which there can be more equality in choices for education among the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
4. Health Care
Thank goodness my son is covered under a state/federal health care plan. However, despite our very modest means, I do not qualify. I have two medications that I take, and I thank God that neither are expensive, or I would be up a creek. I do not understand the health care plan, and it seems that no one does, really. I have a 23-year-old son who is in his second year of a 5-year PhD program at MIT, studying political science, and when I asked him, he said that he doesn’t think anyone understands it.
So, I do not know if I like the current, proposed health care plan, or if it scares me. I really believe in preventative health care visits, but I do not know if the health care plan will help me or hurt me. I’d like to see Obama try to help us understand the plan, so maybe some of us might trust it a bit more.
5. Real Help for Women with Children in Abusive Marriages/Relationships
There are tons of agencies meant to help women to get out of abusive relationships. Try as they might, the most that they can offer is a list of possible resources, some pep talks, and sincere apologies. For women with children who are stuck in abusive marriages, they remain stuck unless they have the funds to get out, and most such women simply do not.
It took me close to nine months to get out of my home, with my son, after I began working with a domestic violence agency, and, in the end, it was my adult kids who helped me leave. Generally, once a woman manages to get out, things get worse in many aspects, with money usually being the biggest issue. I would be thrilled to see Obama speak to programs that are designed to provide real, practical help to women with children who need to get out of abusive relationships–not just to make it easier for them to get out, but stay out too.
So many women go back simply because they cannot make it financially, and there is little help available to them to get them back on their feet. This is a huge issue for me, as I see so many mothers trapped or taking their children back into unhealthy homes. Society at large still turns a blind eye to abuse in so many ways. Being a single mother is tough, period. Being a successful single mom coming out of an abusive relationship is nearly impossible, and it is time for that to change. I look forward to hearing what President Obama has to say, and pray he shares some of my concerns as a single mom.
Unemployment Rates for Metropolitan Areas