Tag Archive | work at home

Surviving on a Single Income/ My Story by Elisa Garcia

Elisa, Alina, and Jackie Dec. 2007

Before I began working from home, I was the primary breadwinner for a three-person family that included my partner and her now adult son.  As a mortgage loan processor for several national companies, I earned a fairly high salary over the course of my ten year career.  My base earnings plus bonus scale complemented my partner’s administrative assistant income very, very well for seven years, to the extent that we were able to purchase a new home, travel spontaneously, and fully fund fertility testing and the intrauterine insemination conception of our daughter.  In fact, we were *almost* a six-digit household … not bad for two working class women who never finished college.

Fast forward to year eight.  Though the grown son now lives with us only part-time, we still have the mortgage and car note and credit card and utility bills to contend with in addition to our lovely two-year-old plus a rescued dog and cat … and we’re doing it ourselves on less than $50,000.00 annually.  How?

Sacrifice.  Simply.  Sacrifice.  Gone are the three, four, sometimes five-night-a-week restaurant meals.  Mama now plans breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus that incorporate versatile basics.  Wasting food is tantamount to sin in our home.  Now, my only cooking break is Friday.  And I have a coupon file that I maintain with the utmost organization and precision.  You’d think I was piecing an anthropological tablet the way I rank and file coupon clippings.

Gone is my daughter Alina’s excellent daycare.  Mama must now write and answer client e-mails at dawn or during rapidly diminishing naptimes … and take up Grandma and Grandpa’s babysitting offers as they come.

Gone is my wardrobe.  A huge, huge upside to my working from home is the loss of thirty extra pounds (or one Alina!); because I no longer contend with the stress that stems from working in a field I loathe, I’m no longer munching at my desk for eight hours a day.  Now, I’m active scrubbing bathtubs, vaccuuming stairs, dusting shelves, and moving furniture.  And though the weight loss was wonderful and desperately needed, I no longer have any pants or shorts or skirts that fit properly.  Everything sags so that I often look like I’m emulating my stepson.  I’m not.  It’s just that the only pants that stay up happen to be sweats … and I’ve worn them out, too. 

Gone are the spontaneous daytrips … though, to be fair, they did pretty much stall after Alina arrived.  But with gas prices so high, we are saving money on my hitherto horrendously long commute. 

 And, oh yes, there are plenty of other areas wherein we’ve had to scrimp and save and eliminate altogether.  The list is just too long to enter here.  And, thankfully, I have earned a little dinero here and there courtesy of local realtors who find my mortgage and writing expertise an ideal blend for their business needs.  I sold a story for publication this fall … not bad for a working class woman who never finished college and only seriously started writing this winter.

 So, to encapsulate: fast Chinese takeout vs. frequent child time-outs;  exclusive daycare vs. exclusive daughter days; trendy tailored clothing vs. tattered, torn castoffs, and spontaneous travel vs. suburban toil ….  Hmmmm …..

Worth it? Every little bit.

by Elisa Garcia

Health Insurance and the (Single) Self-Employed Mother (Rant) by Elisa Garcia

medical symbol Google imagesSomething really needs to be done about the state of healthcare in this country.  Politics notwithstanding, it is a sad state when a (legally) single, self-employed woman cannot secure healthcare coverage for her child.My partner, Jackie, and I have been in a loving and committed relationship for the past seven years.  Five years ago, we held a celebratory but ultimately non-binding holy union.  Together,  we are raising a beautiful and spirited, chronically otitis-afflicted, almost-three-year-old daughter.  I helped raise her now twenty-year-old son during his tumultuous teenagehood, and together we navigated and survived such tough parenting terrain as drug addiction, juvenile detention, rehabilitation centers, and state prison.  We moved to the suburbs when the baby arrived and, like typical parents, now eschew party nights for playdates.  Like many of our heterosexual counterparts, we struggle with mortgage and vehicle payments, preschool options, and work drama.  We are taxpayers who take our obligations seriously, taxpayers who, for all intents and purposes, do not even register on the federal radar as family. 

When I took the carefully considered leap of faith to work independently from home this past fall, our foremost concern centered around healthcare benefits.  As a legally untethered woman in an overwhelmingly conservative red state, our only option for Alina was a private insurance policy … expensive, yes, but worth it; after all, there is no price on your child’s health, right? But a couple months into the policy, it soon became painfully obvious that this policy (and those offered by its competitors) would not cover any ear infections or its related illnesses, treatments, prescriptions, or doctor visits.  Seems like, at two years old, she is already considered near-uninsurable because of her persistent “pre-existing” ear problems.  And, as luck would have it, winter and fall were particulary hard on her.  We presently have five pending claims with this company, and the coverage has since been terminated because we could not afford to continue paying full price for medical services, deductibles, *and* a hefty child-only policy premium.  Worst of all, her much-needed surgery had to be canceled because we cannot afford it; we just do not have $6,000.00 cash lying around.

Jackie’s small, family-owned job does not extend domestic partnership coverage, and neither are they obligated to do so.  Her formal second-parent adoption of Alina never occurred due to some unforeseen financial challenges with her son when I was pregnant.  So she has no official ties to our daughter aside from our own costly legal documents … that take effect only in the event that I am incapacitated or dead.  I’ve quietly listened to moms at the park or the pediatrician’s office complain about their husband’s family insurance coverage, and sometimes it is all I can do not to shout at them to be grateful that they can, by virtue of their sex, enjoy basic legal rights that Jackie and I and our daughter will (probably) never have.  And even as a legally single mother, I still am not eligible to receive state-sponsored care for my girl.  Seems like then, and only then, does Jackie’s presence in OUR home count for something.

 by Elisa Garcia

Mothering (and Working!) While Sick by Elisa Garcia

thermometerRight now I have a horrible, lingering, downright debilitating cold and sinus infection.  Yes, of course I’ve been hacking and sniffling all week, but optimist and procrastinator that I am, I’ve pooh-poohed any notion of any kind of doctor’s visit.  Why? I hate shelling out a $35.00 co-pay simply to be told, “Drink lots of fluid and rest.”  That’s money that could be used toward something useful, like our once a week restaurant dinner, thank you very much.  Besides, I rarely get sick. 

But now I’m thinking that I should have forfeited the prospect of takeout and visited old Dr. McGruff after all.  Because now it’s Friday, his office closes at noon, and I’m simultaneously facing two deadlines and a cranky toddler who’s (rightfully) tired of dealing with a cranky mother.  And my head feels as if it’s going to explode, even though, truth be told, I’ve already ingested enough cough and cold liquid this week to stock CVS. 

Back when I was a corporate minion, it was simple; I (or my partner) trudged Alina to daycare, and I stayed blessedly in bed to catch up on a mother’s most elusive, priced commodity: sleep.  Of course, that’s only if I were sick enough to stay home in the first place; many are the days that I headed to the office armed with a medical kit to suffer gloomily behind a desk, picking and choosing my e-mail battles.  But even that was easier than this … how do you work and feed your child(ren), and entertain your child(ren), and tend to your house? Or do you? How do you cope with being a super employee when you’re a sick mom who just wants (needs) to sleep but also needs to care for her rambunctious kid?

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve raised my voice at my beautiful daughter more than once (more than twice) today.  I’m stressed and sick and apparently unable to discipline effectively enough to be able to send even one e-mail.  And of course she’s eschewed her nap.

Work at home moms, how do you all deal when you– not the kid(s)– are sick? I’m counting the minutes until my partner comes home.  Too bad McGruff won’t be in until Monday.

by Elisa Garcia