Trailer Trash in a Country Club

Posted: June 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

I remember when my kids were young and I had just divorced their father. I was living on less than minimum wage, I was going to school full-time, working before, in-between, and after classes, struggling to make ends meet with less child support than the court awarded me, and living in a mobile home (the sales people told me they were no longer called trailers).

The years of raising my kids – practically alone – were long and filled with panic as I sunk deeper and deeper into debt. As I may have mentioned before in this blog or perhaps another one, I felt as if I were in the midst of a tornado, surrounded by a hurricane, sitting precariously at the bottom of an avalanche.

My world spun out of control and with no money and very little income, I couldn’t raise a cockroach, let alone a family. I resorted to some very creative ways of existing.

I put drops of fabric softener on paper towels which I used over and over again in the dryer. I learned how to stretch meals by hiding leftovers so the kids, who refused to eat leftovers, would think I had just created a brand new meal (I explain my method of hiding leftovers in the blog Hiding Leftovers and Candy From Your Kids).

I made sure all unused lights were off, all bills that were three or more months behind were paid, and that each of the kids was involved in at least one sporting activity.

http://helpforsingleparents.blogspot.com/2010/06/hiding-leftovers-and-candy-from-your.html

When it came down to it though, the fact was (at least according to outsiders), we lived in a trailer in a trailer park.

I remember standing in the office of one of their schools once, waiting to talk to somebody before registering the kids when we first moved to our new town. One of the employees was discussing “those kids in that trailer park” without realizing that some of “those kids” were standing right in front of her.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent, or something to that effect. She was wrong. When other people have strong unsubstantiated opinions either due to ignorance or stupidity, nothing anyone can say will change their minds. I wasn’t about to say anything, but I know that when the person who took my information saw my address, she realized that I had heard the derogatory remarks. She did not apologize.

As the kids got older, they wanted designer clothes. I knew I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money, so I told them that if they wanted designer clothes, they had to get jobs, so Lindsey, who was fourteen at the time, got herself a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. Suddenly she became fascinated with resale shops and the “grunge” look. I was amazed that when she have to buy her own clothes, she developed a new style.

Fast forward to now – all of my kids are grown and my youngest daughter’s husband recently joined a country club, thanks to his new employer who purchased, as a gift for my son-in-law and his family, a year’s worth of the club’s membership.

I, on the other hand, may be destined to be poor (financially only – I think of myself as rich in spirit). And today I feel like a hypocrite, because as I write this, I am sitting on a lounge chair in the shade (because of radiation due to cancer, I can’t sit in the sun for another year) under a canopy at the country club where my daughter and her kids are swimming.

I look around the pool at all the wealthy people who belong to this club and I wonder if I’m judging them for thinking they would judge me if they only knew where I lived.

Most of them are really friendly and I can’t help but wonder if they would kick me out because of where I live (still in a mobile home).

On the other hand, I wonder – if I came from a life of privilege, would I judge people who lived in poverty?

I would hope not.

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Comments
  1. Linda StCyr says:

    This post hit home with me. I grew up in a trailer park. Some of my fondest memories are from there. I think that people judge what they do not understand. Think of the positives… your kids had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table. There are many people out there who do not have those luxuries. Sometimes life throws things at us (like the woman who made the derogatory remarks) to test our strength.

    Many blessings to you and yours! And your not a hypocrite, enjoy the country club, just don’t forget where you came from 😉

    • Mella says:

      People will forever judge. I do it to others (something I’m working on changing everyday). And I have it done to me. I think the trick is to find a way to have it bounce off. Find a way to laugh at the simple mindedness, be thankful you are not, and kill em with kindness. 🙂 At least this is what I’ve learned with age.

      Love you Theresa!

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