Sunday, January 24, 2010

Advice: Don't Read the Morning Paper

With the disruption last week in both our normal schedules, Raphaela's sleeping patterns have become more random than ever. This morning, she has been awake on and off since 2:30 am, the cat has been begging to go outside in the rain all night, and I am exhausted.

Then I read the morning paper, and forgetting for a moment the continuing tragedy in Haiti, the English Haaretz features an article entitled, "We don't live, we just survive", about a 36 year old Israeli divorced single mother with a six year old daughter; I quote below several passages.

"...I'm not able to lift my head above water. I've tried to examine in a creative way what all the possibilities are at my disposal, to increase my income and/or change my work place and/or take a mortgage, and/or to become self-employed. However, other than manipulating the system to get an allowance, and/or finding a sponsor who will pay me in return for sexual favors - I think I have tried everything."

"Since it is essential to spend money on a place to live, that is my top priority and it comes even at the expense of my daughter's food."

"...If they have not cut off your electricity and you have something more than margarine in your refrigerator, you are wasting your time [with government agencies]. So I went to the Housing Ministry to see if they would help me rent an apartment, but according to their standards too, I'm rich...I then went to the Industry, Trade and Labour Ministry because I heard they have a plan to pay for afternoon care and camps for children of single parents, but guess what? It's not for single parents like me."

"As someone who at home always heard time and again, 'There's not enough money' - I can't repeat those words myself. I have a charming daughter, she is mature and clever...I want to live respectably. I want to make it possible for my daughter to have a decent life."

I relate to this woman and having read this account, shudder to think that this could be mine and Raphaela's future. Inasmuch as I can control my own actions, I will do everything possible to avoid this scenario, but in the end it is up to a higher power than me, or the Israeli government.


Abandoning Eden said...

this sounds like the story of a woman who didn't work much after having children, probably does not have much higher education, and so doesn't have the job experience/skills to make it on her own. You are definitely not in that position.

Doc said...

Actually she works full time according to the article, and does not live in the Mercaz, so theoretically prices on things should be lower. From what she says, she is not aspiring to become dependent on welfare, just massively struggling.

Amy Charles said...

Well, it goes for all parents, but for us it goes double. You have to be prepared for things like suddenly not having enough income. Savings will help, but ultimately you need a plan in place for reducing overhead to a bare minimum. Preferably, that means owning your resources, as far as you can, and also being familiar with the rules -- stated and actual -- for getting aid if you need it.

If you can rely on friends and family, that's great, but they shouldn't be your fail-safe. They're human, they have other priorities, and they can go only so far for you. Sometimes they'll be unwilling to help at all.

For the first half of last year, I had no income at all. The markets were crazy here, and nobody knew what was happening, so nobody was hiring. I lived on savings, started a large garden, bought a year's worth of nonperishable food, and made plans in case the economy did not pick up again anytime soon. Luckily, it did (and I should get back to work now). But over the next 20 years, a lot can happen, so yes, it's best to be prepared.