Dear Santa, I know you probably don’t get very many letters from grownups but if you have any more room on your list, I was hoping you could slip a few extra gifts into your magical bag this year. I am writing to request that you send some holiday cheer my way for my three boys who are my entire world. For the last 16 years I have been a hardworking, tired, overworked 100% single mom to my children. I’m a single mom because life isn’t perfect. Over the last 16 years I have learned being a single mom is basically hard every day of year but, during the holiday time the stings are more severe especially this year. These last two years have hit me like a ton of bricks. I am amongst one of the lucky ones to have kept by job throughout this pandemic. Early in the pandemic, the in-home day care program my toddler attended closed, leaving me scrambling for a new solution. I then had to enroll my toddler in a daycare center which almost has tripled the cost of my previous in-home daycare in order to keep my job. I do not qualify for daycare assistance through the county or state I live
in as a single mom of 3 I am over income by less than $300 per state guidelines and cannot get any help. This arrangement has had an unexpected benefit for the toddler, he absolutely thrives in his daycare center. But financially the financial burden of this high-cost daycare center has determinately affected my one household incomes budget. My older son has a part-time working in retail, a position that is dependent on having access to a working car in order to get to and from school and home and work while I am working. Thankfully the spring stimulus payment arrived at an important time and oldest son was able to get a reliable car to get himself to and from school and work and help with transporting his brothers to sports & school when I am unable to due to working multiple jobs to make ends meets. Without the stimulus payment, I would have had to take on significant debt to get my son a vehicle so that her son could keep his job. Over the last 2 years myself and my 3 children have experienced a lot of changes in the way we access food and our family's eating habits. I have struggled with food insecurity and the fear or pressure of providing for 3 growing boys, unfortunately getting help from food pantries is sometimes very difficult. I often have a long commute to work and have to pick up my toddler from daycare by a certain time every day, and food pantries are not typically open in the evenings. I have occasionally gotten food from another family member who has been picking up free groceries from a food pantry and has leftover items a few times over the last year or so if I am in desperate need and still waiting a few days until my next paycheck. I have cooked at home more than ever before since the pandemic. This shift to more home cooking has unexpectedly made us more conscious about what we are eating, and one positive out of all of this is we all have a healthier diet now My toddler is enrolled in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, which has become a huge help Now, because of the pandemic, they know do it telephonically. I can do it while at work. That’s been so convenient! As a single mom money is always tight and I continuously live paycheck to paycheck no matter how much I work… then add in a pandemic and the constant need to avoid exposure to COVID-19, to prevent getting sick and missing work and my kids getting sick and me needing to care for them and not be able to work as they cannot attend school or daycare is beyond stressful and a daily struggle. Anna notes that many of their current challenges are less about the pandemic and more “just a single-income household type of stress.” Even though my oldest son has been working, his income doesn't do much to alleviate the financial stress. I do know I am beyond fortunate to have had work during these last 2 years and to “have kept the lights on. If anyone could bless and give my 3 wonderful boys a great christmas this struggling momma would be forever grateful!