Thanks to Kitty for helping me get it out of the my system, but there’s another thing that makes the job not great.
The entitlement. The air of entitlement the clients have in accessing all these free services that make their lives easier. And the systemic entitlement.
I’m a little bitter. I had The Mook at 26 and I didn’t have my shit together, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I didn’t look to anyone else to help me with providing for my kid (well, except to The Former Mister and we all know how that turned out).
Basically, moms can come to the agency I work for and get help. For free.
It comes in the form of baby clothes and equipment (stroller, playpen and the like) and diapers and formula. Attend a nutrition class? Get a grocery store gift card! Finish 2 of the 4 high school credits you could have earned if you bothered to show up for class before 11 am? Get a gift card! Pregnant? Get a photo session and a belly cast!
It comes in the form of help advocating with The Bad Guys. The Children’s Aid Society and the welfare office and the daycare subsidy people. Not to mention the housing office which can lead to subsidized housing based on 30% of the household income (I’m paying about 55% of my income for rent these days and it is killing me).
Now, to be fair, there is a lot that can and should be said about where the air of entitlement comes from. Sometimes they are born into it, raised in a household where mom collected welfare and failed to mention the boyfriend who contributed to the bills but whose name never showed up on the lease. And, in some cases, the client got pregnant before she finished high school because she KNEW there would be a lot more help and assistance available to her as a teen mom. Frankly, that’s just damn smart of her.
(I know someone who accessed the same agency 14 yrs ago. She is still living in subsidized housing and purposely earns just minimum wage even though she has a BSW and a MSW. Why earn more? Then she’d have to pay OSAP back and not be able to access the free programs available to her ‘low income’ household, including legal aid, for when one of her kid’s dads makes trouble about child support or custody arrangements.)
There’s something that I realized about 2 years ago and I’ve talked it over with my therapist but it’s hanging over my head as I work thru these feelings about my workplace.
When my relationship to The Former Mister fell apart, I would have done better if I had left him, moved out of the house and directly into a shelter. Once there I would have been able to access So.Much.Help. Help to find a good lawyer (even legal aid). Help to find a new safe place to live. Help to furnish that new place. Help to care for and connect with The Mook in a way I hadn’t been able to do. Help to understand my rights and the long-term affects of the custody arrangement.
BUT…I didn’t. And, years later, seeing the help that is available to those who know enough to ask for it, I really wish I had.