Baby Steps Forward

footstepsSome days are good days for Rochelle.  Some days the car starts; bills get paid; there is food in the refrigerator and gas in the car.  When those days come, Rochelle can think about what to do tomorrow and next week.  She can make future plans.  She can’t really waste that time sleeping or watching television because those times come too infrequently for her.  Moving forward means using any free time she has to do things with a positive effect on her future.  “Free time” is only “problem-free time” for her.

Since last September, when I began interviewing her, Rochelle has received free health and dental insurance through a city program.  She has used it for a medical check-up and has also had four dental clinic visits to repair what a lifetime of dental neglect had done to her teeth.  Her children are covered by Medicaid.  This week she starts training for her new, higher paying job.  The job pays only $9.00/hour to start, and is only part-time, but it is for a well- respected company. The company gives raises twice a year for the first two years, then once a year after that. The $9.00/hour, while still less than she was earning at the department store, is much more than her current $7.65/hour.  The job is quite close to her apartment, plus her current employer says she can also work part-time with them if she wishes.  Rochelle started part-time at the department store and turned it into full-time work.  The same is possible with this new job. The problem of childcare, however, still looms. If her mother backs out of her offer to increase the days she cares for the children, or if her mother gets sicker, what will Rochelle do?  Everything, really, hinges on childcare. When one is a mother everything pivots around childcare.

Today, actually, food is on the table because Rochelle pawned everything of value she had.  These were not family jewels. She has no family jewels.  She pawned the electronics, which had mostly been presents for the children.  It is not the first time she has done that.

Tomorrow there may be another crisis.  If there isn’t one tomorrow, then most likely there will be one within the next few weeks.  That is what happens when life is lived on the edge.  Baby steps, however, if successful, can turn into giant steps.  That can happen too.  Rochelle believes that.

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One thought on “Baby Steps Forward

  1. You write that Rochelle and others like her are heavily criticized for their “choices,” which, sadly, is due to the fact that in a Puritanical society like ours, there is an inherent need to blame people in order to feel superior. Many peoples’ only sense of self-confidence & superiority derives from the fact that they feel that they are better than “someone else.” Sadly, much of middle-class, white America falls into this category – not to mention Romney’s cohorts.

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