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I am not young, but I am not old either. I have two kids, both in elementary school. My daughter is 7 and my son is 9. I feel incredibly grateful to have them with me. Is that odd to hear a mom say that? It probably sounds like I didn’t always have them, and that’s right. For a while, I didn’t have my kids with me. I messed up. Ugh, I’ve messed up a lot in my life.

Several years ago, I was in a bad, and abusive relationship. I thought that was the worst experience of my life. I was able to leave, but it was chaos, and I was arrested for assault. I ended up in jail for a while and the state took custody of my little kids. When I got out, I did what I was told, I found a job, worked hard, and proved I could care for my children.

We weren’t living high on the hog, but we were surviving. I rented a house, and the kids had an OK school, food on the table, warm coats, and clean clothes. My kids seemed happy, and I know I was because we did it together.

My job was nothing to write home about. I worked in an office, answering phones, and directing people to the right place when they came in. I was able to buy a used car and even able to afford lunch out with my co-workers once a week.

Then, like some kind of natural disaster, COVID-19 hit, and my world was turned upside down. As soon as my company decided to send the employees home to work, I was out of a job. They didn’t need me at the front desk anymore since the office was closed. Actually, it wasn’t long before they let all of the “non-essential” employees go.

Unemployment helped for a while. I looked for a job every day. I was able to keep bills paid, but just like my company, I cut out all non-essentials. Really, it was a blow to my ego to lose my job, but then it was a blow to my confidence trying to find a job because no one was hiring, especially someone with my record.

I guess I wasn’t too worried because the kids were home every day. It wasn’t like I could afford for someone to watch them, and all the daycares were closed anyway. So, I helped them through their homework, and they attended school by watching the TV station the district set up. There wasn’t much for them to do since they were so young. I made up ways for us to practice schoolwork. I gave them math problems every day. I taught them how to cook and clean the house. I challenged them to races instead of P.E. class, and I taught them how to draw cartoons since it was the best art I could do myself.

Once unemployment ended, things changed fast. The kids were still at home, and jobs were opening, but I couldn’t afford daycare until school started. Even if I could, no one was interested in listening to my story and blew me off because of my record. Money was super tight, and I had to start choosing which bills to let slide.

Before I knew it, I couldn’t pay my rent either. I was given a couple months and then we were kicked out. I lost my house, my home for my kids.

This is not good. What am I going to do? I have my car, thank goodness I paid that off right away. But are we really going to spend the night in my car? I can’t believe this is happening to me. I never missed a day of work, and I was never late.

It has been a week. It is time. I can’t continue to live like this, and neither can my kids. It isn’t safe, or clean, or a solution! Something must change. How can I get control of our lives?

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