I am now a grandmother of five. My children have all left home and two of them have started their own families. I can say hands down that the most important, most challenging, and most fun job I have ever had is being a mom. As a grandma, I get the pay-off with far less work!
I raised my children as a single parent for a number of years. Receiving regular child support—and working two or three part-time jobs—kept us going financially. It takes hard work to raise a child day in and day out. Like many parents, I worried juggled, and did without to make sure the kids had clothes, food, health care coverage, and a roof over their heads. Often I was out of cash and out of food stamps by the third week of the month. We had plenty of pancakes for supper during that last week!
Being able to turn to safety net programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children), school lunch, Medicaid, and public health clinics helped us get by. As a young mother, I was grateful for the mosaic of services that I received from my county social services agency during hard times. That is why I encourage child support professionals to learn more about the services available to families in your community, to build partnerships with other programs, and to provide information and connections for the parents you work with every day.
Parents have a huge job—to raise, love and financially support their children. Earning money. Putting food on the table. Cleaning the house. Getting up in the middle of the night with a sick child. Walking the kids to the bus stop. Doing the laundry. Helping with homework. Taking the kids to the dentist. Taking the kids to the park. Teaching children how to conduct themselves. Putting down the phone to listen to knock-knock jokes. For moms and dads, these are “chores of love.”
An inescapable part of being a parent is financial responsibility. Parents do what they have to do to take care of their kids. And kids know when their parents put them first. It costs money to raise a child. That’s the bottom line.
The work that you do as child support professionals makes a difference in families’ lives. It really does. Take it from me. Happy Mother’s Day!