(Note: Per my mood, I am swearing an awful lot in this post so please don’t read if it will offend you.)
For nearly as long as I can remember, my mother has had issues with money. There was a brief time after the divorce when she seemed to have her shit together. We moved to a nearby town, rented a townhouse, and really… things went well.
And then she started dating and her priorities got all fucked up. I remember her staying out all night and leaving my sisters and I at home alone. I remember waiting up for her. I remember when the food started to become scarce. I remember digging in the couch cushions for enough change to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, the generic variety, which would be made without the benefit of milk or butter. I remember being kicked out of the house we were renting. And I remember my mother never again being quite the same.
Prior to my fourth grade year (the year all of the above happened), my mom had been a woman who could pull herself together and look good despite being a larger woman. She would do her hair and makeup and she would look classy. She had the ability to just pull it all together. She’s slowly lost that ability. The next decade or two would be spent with her becoming an alcoholic, living with an alcoholic, her abandoning her job as a realtor and working for a telemarketing company, and then abandoning that job as well and beginning her “work at home” career which is still going on now.
Throughout all of these things, my mom has had very little money. There is no savings plan. No savings account. There is sometimes a checking account which invariably gets overdrawn and closed due to her writing bad checks. There are times when she’s got money and she spends it generously but quickly. And before you get solely a negative view of my mother – she is far from being “all bad.” She is the parent who has always supported me, the one I can tell anything to, the one who has shown me unconditional love, and you can have amazing conversations with her.
However, she’s also always borrowed money from me. Every so often mom needs something and it’s frequent enough that I have a savings account for it. Every pay period, some money goes into an account for the next time she calls and tells me she’s 400 behind on her electric or her laptop has died. The appointment setting doesn’t really pay the bills. It does at times, but it’s incredibly slow at other times and with my mom’s lack of saving savvy, it spells trouble.
The most recent fiasco: She called needing me to pay her 400 electric bill and explained that it was because her paypal card hadn’t come. (She suffers from depression and neglected to get her mail for so long the post office refused to deliver any longer and she apparently had issues getting them to deliver again… Mind you, they hadn’t delivered in a few months so I’m not surprised her bills went unpaid.) Two weeks later, she is calling again for me to pay her 200 cable bill. Oh, and…by the way… she’s so far behind in rent that she gave them her 30 day notice because she was inevitably going to be evicted.
I have to admit, I came unglued. Un-fucking-glued.
I’d ASKED her when I paid the 400 dollars how her other bills were and she had assured me she had everything under control if I could pay the 400. But, just like always… that wasn’t the case. And she was talking about renting an apartment in another town and all I could think was “and just where does she think she’s going to get the first, last, and deposit for that place?” Because, my mom with her depression, also lives in filth. I’ve tried to help with that. I’ve tried to go in and clean for her and really it does nothing. So she definitely isn’t going to get a cent of her deposit back – even if she didn’t owe them money.
And this is where people usually butt into the story and say “don’t give her any more money, let her figure it out on her own.” And I have to explain that my sisters and I did that once. And that my mom ended up losing her house and having nowhere to go. So then it came down to letting my mom live on the street, or letting her move in with one of us. We sometimes joke that the occasional bill we pay for my mom is our “not having mom live with us tax.” We can’t let her “figure it out on her own” because she doesn’t. Been there, done that, and we lost a lot in the process.
And this is where people usually say “make her get a real job.” And I have to tell them that my mother likely isn’t physically able to get a real job outside of the home anymore. She’s grossly overweight, is a chain smoker, and has lived an incredibly sedentary life for a looooooooong time. Even 8 years ago she would avoid coming to visit me because of the two flights of stairs to get to my apartment. These days? She’d never make it up the two flights.
This seems as good of a stopping point as any on this story. I’ll fill you in on the rest in a day or so.