Fifty Dollars Can Change Your Life

$50 is how much it cost to get our marriage license 10 years ago. The license that held the legality to all my hopes and dreams. The paper that went along with the promises that we would love each other, support each other and see each other through the hard times. $50 to start the journey of having a home, a family and a bright financial future with someone always by my side. It would cost much more than $50 to get divorce but that is a whole other story.

$50 was the co-pay when I took my daughter to be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. I knew that she was not progressing as she should and this was the first step to get answers and the help that she needed. When the diagnosis of Autism was given I was not shocked but I was shook. At the time I had no idea how that would shape our lives. The struggles she and I would endure in finding ways for her to cope with sensory issues, social issues, behavioral issues, sleep problems. The triumphs we would celebrate in her learning how to speak in full sentences, being invited to a Birthday party for the first time, moving into a higher level class, eating new foods, and making lasting relationships with family.  It was a $50 well spent but a life changing $50 for sure.

After my divorce, $50 was how much it cost to fill my tank with gas and embark on our adventure moving from the Bay Area which I had called home all my life, to a little suburban town right outside of Sacramento. This town held promises of a better life. A family friendly town with low crime and high spirits. Little did I know at the time that in my new city “family” meant more than just one parent and a child and it would cost a small fortune to even have an apartment on one income. Sometimes I wish I could get that $50 back.  

$50 is the average amount people ask for from me on a semi-regular basis. Grown men who only have to care for themselves (one of which doesn’t even work but has mommy pay all his bills) will come to me, a single mom, and ask for money. Money for them to get cigarettes, money for them to go to a bar etc.  I don’t give them money anymore, instead they get a lecture and the offer that I will take the $50 they need and put it in a fund to save for their early funeral because their lifestyles are so unhealthy! Of course I don’t actually do that because they aren’t worth my $50!

$50 is how short I came up on an application for an apartment for my daughter and I. I make a decent income compared to others in the area, I get a little bit of child support from my daughters paternal grandmother and some additional money for her having Autism. Do we struggle every month? Absolutely. I have to think extra hard and plan where every dollar goes. But we have never gone hungry, and I have never missed or been late with a rent payment. So I applied for this apartment and show all of my income and I am $50 short of making 2.5 times the rent. I offered to go without Starbucks to save $50 a month but the leasing agent didn’t see my humor. I reached out to several city, county and state level council members and not one could offer me any advice. I could go on a political rant here about how other people who are less hard working get more from the Government but I will leave that alone. $50! $50 means they would rather my daughter and I be on the street! $50 means they can tell me that I don’t qualify to live there and give me an attitude that I am not good enough. This is the most frustrating $50 out of them all.

I really never gave much thought to an amount of money under a thousand dollars possibly changing your life. I am now here to tell you that just $50 can make all the difference in the world!

Our Duty as Parents on Memorial Day

Monday is Memorial Day. It is a day when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Those sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends etc. who did not come home. It is a somber occasion but one that can be filled with a lot of importance, respect and gratitude.

So as parents, what should we be doing? I believe it is our responsibility to always teach respect for our country and our soldiers to the next generation and Memorial Day is a great time to start those conversations and lessons.

Most young children have not experienced war (luckily). They do not know about the World Wars, Vietnam, and Korea, our protection in Bosnia, the Dominican Republic, and so many other countries. They were not around to witness the horror of 9/11 or the wars to follow that. Some may have scraped the surface of the topic in history classes but I can tell you that I learned a lot more about other things in history then I ever did about wars, and our military.  Most of our children are still living in innocence and while as parents we want to maintain that for as long as possible we also want to teach them gratitude. Gratitude for all those who have sacrificed their comforts, family, health and lives to protect us and our free country.

There are numerous ways to do this depending on the age group and again it does not have to be overwhelming. Some ways to approach this topic are:

  • Go to a local veteran cemetery, talk about the people buried there and the flags around the grounds in honor of them. Leave some flowers and a nice note by a monument there.
  • Pause at 3pm. Where ever you are, stop at 3pm to take a moment of silence for a fallen solider. Have a brief conversation before the moment so your children know the meaning behind it.
  • Wear a red poppy.  The red poppy became a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers in 1918.
  • Have your child help you hang your flag  at your home ( please note: it should be flown at half-staff from dawn to noon)
  • Attend a local parade or watch the national parade on TV
  • While Memorial Day is for fallen soldiers it would still be nice to have your child write a letter or draw a picture for current soldiers or Veterans (especially those in veteran hospitals and care facilities). Maybe even bring a snack to an elderly Veteran’s home.

Whichever way you chose to share information about this day with your child, the most important thing is that they realize this is not an extra day off from school, it is not the beginning of the summer season, or a time for the best sales. It is a day to memorialize those who sacrificed for us and our country and their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.