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Thursday, August 18, 2022

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Forget taking it day by day, we take it hour by hour

My name is Kristin and I am a single mom with a 5 yr old son. When I was five months pregnant I was let go of my job, so I applied at McDonalds. I even worked the opening shift to make an extra $.50. A lot of people looked down on me, working at McDonalds. But to me, I had a job, I was making a paycheck and doing what I HAD to do to provide for my son. When he was a year old I was able to go to a trade school with help from my Aunt. My first job after graduating I made 9 bucks an hour, I felt on top of the world!

We moved down here to Tampa from Michigan almost two years ago to stay close to my parents. My son’s father has never shown interest in his life and I thank God every day that my son hasn’t thought to ask where his dad is. I work a full time job as a dental assistant making 15 bucks an hour. Cole is almost always the first one dropped off at day care and the last one picked up, not a day goes by that I am overwhelmed with guilt that he spends more time with his teachers than me. Making 15 bucks an hour provides for our basic needs: food, rent, clothes, etc…Of course any extra money goes to Cole’s needs, mostly clothes and shoes because he grows like a weed!! What 15 bucks an hour doesn’t provide is any safety net, I have to make sure to stick close to the budget because if I don’t, then we’re eating cereal for dinner or hunting for gas money under the sofa. At Cole’s school there is a Tumble Bus that comes every Friday, and every week I have to try to explain to my son why he can not go on the bus without him knowing that Mommy doesn’t have a spare 20 bucks.

My son saved my life in more ways then anyone will ever know, and I knew at the time when I choose to keep my baby boy that times would be tough. Honestly though, living here in Tampa, surrounded by the lifestyle that my co-workers lead, it’s harder than I imagined. I don’t want the fancy bags, or new shoes every month, I just want to be able to give my son a great life. And if that means that I’m eating ramen noodles every day for lunch and wearing clothes that no longer fit, to see the smile on my son’s face makes it okay. I know that I will always be one step behind, I’ve come to accept that. But I hope my son never knows how much I struggled to make ends meet. When life threatens to drag me under I tell myself that I have to keep it together until Cole’s asleep. Then I lock myself in the bathroom and let the fears and worries overcome me, and just cry. I give myself a half hour to be “weak” and then I pull myself back together. I love it when people tell me they don’t know how I do it or they could never do it (be a single mom) and I think, well not “doing it” was never an option. My proudest moment is when people meet my son, they always tell me how happy he is, and that’s how I know that we’re going to make it. Somehow.

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