“I am constantly thinking about how to save on utility bills, like taking short showers. I only do what is absolutely necessary to get by, and I choose my daughter’s needs over my own.”
My boyfriend and I are trying hard to provide for our daughter, but it feels like the system is against us. The best job my boyfriend has been able to find is working security in downtown Seattle. He has an hour commute both ways and has to pay for parking, but we just can’t afford to live any closer to downtown.
He has considered riding the bus, but that would be a two-and-a-half-hour commute both ways, leaving him absolutely no time to see me or his daughter. I work part-time so I can take a few college classes. Between $4,800 for my community college tuition, $2,500 for my legal fees for my permanent residency application, and my daughter’s diapers, I have no money to spend on anything other than the essentials.
I make trade-offs everywhere in life. I don’t indulge in entertainment or eat out. I only buy clothes for my daughter because she is constantly growing. I use as little gas as possible, so I only go places if I absolutely have to. I am constantly thinking about how to save on utility bills, like taking short showers. I only do what is absolutely necessary to get by, and I choose my daughter’s needs over my own.
My wages do not leave me any room for emergencies or long-term planning. A few weeks ago, I had a very painful and large lump on my body. Because my insurance deductible is $3,000, I waited three weeks before I went to the hospital. Now, I have already received $500 in medical bills and I know more are coming. All I can think about is which bill my next paycheck will pay for.
If I were making a living wage, I would be able to finish my education at the University of Washington, my boyfriend wouldn’t have to stress about getting overtime, and we would get to spend more time together as a family.
Instead, being a mother, student, and low-wage worker with bills hanging over my head leaves me exhausted and emotionally drained. Time is nonexistent; it feels like, at any given time, one of us is commuting, working, or, if we are lucky, sleeping… but it really doesn’t feel like a life.