As a writer for CDN and a political pundit on radio and social media, I often get email responses to my public commentary. This open letter to moms not only captured my attention, but touched my heart so deeply that I felt the need to share it with others.
Open Letter to Moms
One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home-mom is grocery shopping on weekday mornings when the stores are quiet. A recent trip to the grocery store, however, became a thought provoking experience. I arrived to find the parking lot full and crowded aisles. Then I realized it was the first of the month.
Like a lot of people I shop at a large discount chain to stretch my grocery dollars. I’ve learned that folks on SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, do the same. The first of the month is when funds are deposited into SNAP accounts.
My typical grocery shopping experience takes longer than usual. I probably forgot something on my list. My toddler and infant are now tired and cranky, and I’ve now forgotten where I parked. Trying to find my car, I look around the parking lot. There’s a lot of nice cars. SUV’s. Shiny new models. I remember again that it’s the first of the month. This observation has me intrigued. Wile it’s impossible to know exactly who owns which car, and who is on SNAP, it stands to reason that there are some people driving really nice cars who are on SNAP. And it gets me thinking.
My husband drives a 10 year old car. His paycheck is decent enough that he could treat himself to a much nicer vehicle. In fact, we could live in a much nicer house. Heck, I could drive a bigger car; one that doesn’t require the removal of a double stroller from the trunk to make room on grocery shopping days. But my husband chooses to drive an old car. We live in a modest home. And I drive a small car and squeeze 2 car seats in the back. We do this so we can afford to save money. In our savings account in case of emergency. For retirement. So we can put money into our kids’ savings plans. All of these payments are as important to us as real bills, even though they are optional. We won’t be in default if we don’t put away funds into savings. It won’t affect our credit rating if we don’t save for retirement and instead lived paycheck to paycheck, using every last cent to make payments on new, big, shiny cars.
We could forgo these “optional” payments and opt instead to have nicer things. Noticing the cars in the parking lot of a discount retailer on the first of the month makes me think that a lot of people do just that. Then the “Oh no” moment happens. A job is lost. An accident occurs. An illness takes hold. These families that chose to spend it all now need the government to hold their hand as they leave the big house and get into the big car as they head to the grocery store. Land, home and vehicles are not factored into food stamp eligibility. (www.ssa.gov)
I wish more folks would choose to be responsible and not dependent. The “optional” payments made to emergency savings, retirement and college funds are investments for an independent future. It is a purchase of security. Then if an unexpected situation presents itself, the savings account buys the groceries, not the government. It is richer to live modestly but financially secure than surrounded by luxuries that deplete an entire paycheck each month.
This is the lesson I want my children to learn, live and pass on: to be RESPONSIBLE and not dependent.
I am not trying to ridicule or demonize those who haven’t been taught this lesson. Unfortunately, our government and societal norms have made it all too easy to accept the paycheck to paycheck mentality. But the situation in our country has become dire.
As it stands, our national debt is over 16 trillion dollars. It helps to see what 16 trillion looks like. There’s a LOT of zeros! It’s our CHILDREN that will have to bear the brunt of paying this debt, PLUS the interest! It works out to be about $50,000 per child born this year. How will our children afford to drive ANY type of car with that hanging over them?
Aside from making a choice this November for the candidate that will better address our exploding debt, we need to raise the next generation to be responsible, financially independent adults. The president has a job to do, and as mothers, so do we.
- S Tieszen, American Mom