D is my ex-editor and is my former “work spouse.” These days, D lives way the hell near Fargo and is living life as a single dad to his two sons. During our tenure together when we worked at the newspaper, I had the pleasure of meeting D’s mom – the formidable Mama D.
I met Mama D shortly after D separated from his wife and was constantly impressed by this amazing woman who had left a bad relationship when divorce was basically verboten and raised her children on a waitress’s salary. Mama D is the driving force behind how D turned out. And I’m lucky to have met her in this lifetime …
“My definition of poor begins with one not having choices about where they spend their money. We’ve all heard the phrase “discretionary income” bantered about a lot, but when I picture poor, I don’t believe there’s any discretion as to where your money goes.
I, too, am climbing out of debt brought upon during a 10-year spending splurge of a marriage, but I’m far better off than my mother ever was. I still take my kids to a movie at the cheap theater once in a while. They still get a toy here and there and I’m not using my stove as a second heating source, like we did when I was young.
My mom was poor. We ate commodity foods, slept three to a bed to keep warm and literally dressed in front of an open oven door in the morning to stay warm.
My mom couldn’t have told you the meaning of “discretionary”. We wore hand-me-downs and eating at a restaurant was a foriegn concept. I think about those times now when I’m pissing and moaning about living paycheck to paycheck. When I’m reminded of them, I feel guilty because I have money, it’s just a matter of where I choose to spend it. If I wanted to, I know could cut some spending, but those little luxuries are what keeps my spirits up.
I guess long story short: Poor to me is having no choice where your money goes. Those decisions are made for you.”
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