I will admit; I am probably not as educated on this as I should be. Yes, I have read a smattering of Time, Newsweek and other newspapers articles on this if I see them tweeted or someone sends it to me. Yes, I have perused picture galleries filled with hundreds of protestors aligned together with clever signs and purpose. Some of my closest friends spend days participating and organizing #OccupyChicago. I should know more. I should. But I don’t.
What I do know is what I see in my own life. What I do know is that I grew up in one of the most affluent suburbs of Chicago, although my parent’s debt always outweighed the perception of wealth that we had. I grew up seeing what the 1% had, and wanting it. I moved to Minnesota for college and the difference in class was striking to me. My parent’s two bedroom condo could buy me acres in Minnesota.
As I graduated college, having paid out of state tuition, I was left with insurmountable student loan debt. And I had grants; I had a full year paid. Yet still I was carrying $44,923.17 to be paid off over the course of my life.
I got pregnant straight out of college. It wasn’t intentional and while I did debate my right to choose what to do I decided to keep the little baby that was to become Bear. Perhaps, if I hadn’t made that choice I would have been in a better position financially. While my friends got out of college, traveled the world, lived in their parent’s houses, found jobs and saved money I had to immediately start paying for and caring for a child.
My hospital bills for Bear were more than we could bear. It took us a full year to pay them off. While I was pregnant with Bella two years ago I got a second job that I worked in addition to my full time job in order to be able to pay for the impending debt. A few weeks into my pregnancy I started bleeding. In the midst of crying in the bathroom, I told the H I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I was afraid of the cost. And it did cost. It cost me to wait in an ER for hours with a three year old boy while I was examined and poked and prodded and had an internal sonogram to tell me that no one I was in fact not miscarrying my second child.
We bought our house before the market crashed. My house is now worth $40,000 less than I paid for it. My mortgage payment while fixed is higher than it was three years ago because the property taxes have gone up and I didn’t have enough in escrow to cover it so it was added to my payment.
When the H took a new job in his company this past September it allowed him to actually like his job, and placed him on a path for much more career growth than if he had stayed in his previous position. But it costs me $400 a month for him to go to his new job. His schedule change and we had to send the kids to an extra day in daycare. My daycare bill is more than my mortgage.
Yes, I could send my children to an in home facility. I could pay less. But I want them to have the best that they can, and they do. I never feel amount of hesitation dropping them off at school because I know they are probably getting more from there than they even would at home with me.
I could give you numbers. Of the balance on my credit cards, the amount in my checking account, the red number that appears when you subtract our income from our expenses. But you don’t need them. You can probably look at your own account.
There are people, not many, that have more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime. That have things they will never use or never needed. That have a wealth that rivals the kings. There are people that will leave all their assets to their dogs before a dime sees the hands of a well deserving charity. There are many people, that have much much less than I do.
Fundamentally, there shouldn’t be this immense discrepancy. My kids should be able to go to the doctor when they are sick and not stay home because I don’t want to pay the co-pay. I deserve to go to the hospital to be reassured that I’m not having a miscarriage. I deserve the education that I got. My kids deserve to go to a place every day where they are cared for and taught by loving people. My family deserves to eat, to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Every family does.
Which is why this mom stands with the 99%.