My daughter has invited a new friend over, and I see the confusion on the mother’s face as she pulls up in a well-maintained SUV with her child. She alternates glances between her iPhone and the black numerals on the front of my home a few times, as if Google Maps has mistakenly directed her to a different home that happens to have the exact same address as mine. I recognize her uncertainty and anxiety as she steps out of the vehicle to introduce herself to me, hugging her daughter goodbye as she whispers a little too loudly, “Call me if you need anything or decide you don’t want to stay.”
This is one of the better experiences I’ve had.
There’s also the girl whose mother told her she could spend the night - until she arrived at my home. When she realized I lived in a trailer, she suddenly remembered that her daughter had a very important appointment early the next morning. When my daughter invited her over another time, the girl stated that she’s not allowed to spend the night at other people’s homes. The next day, my daughter found out she had spent the night at a different classmate’s house.
Then there was the girl with the 70-inch TV who had no food in her house. Her pantry and fridge were completely empty, a secret I discovered after noticing she always seemed to show up at my home around dinnertime. She was decked out in designer clothes and lived in a real house, not an apartment or trailer, so I was surprised to learn her secret. She eventually stopped coming over, but not before telling my daughter that her mother said we lived in a trashy neighborhood.
The stories don’t stop there. Lately, some girls at school have been making fun of my daughter because she lives in a mobile home. I had an unplanned surgery last month, and one girl went around saying my daughter was going to be homeless and live in our van because people like me can’t afford medical bills. She told my daughter’s classmates that I’m on welfare (I’m not) and don’t have health insurance (I have an excellent health plan). She said I waste money on Victoria’s Secret (we had gift cards, so the clothes were free) and that’s why we live in a trailer.
This still isn’t where the judgment ends.
I’ve had several friends comment that I live below my means. I don’t, but that’s nobody’s business. I make a decent income, but I’m supporting 3 kids alone. I don’t live in a trailer because I’m poor. I live in a trailer because I don’t put my expenses on credit cards or have a mortgage loan. I live in a trailer because I’d rather eat organic food and pay for my kids to participate in gymnastics, basketball, and soccer than have a fancy home with a pantry full of Ramen noodles.
I don’t live below my means. I live within them.
My trailer, which I prefer to call a mobile home, is clean. It’s only a few years old. I have a refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. We have hot water. My AC blasts ice-cold air on hot days.
I’m no different than you.
My kids are loved. They have good hygiene. They’re healthy and happy.
My oldest is in the gifted program at school. She was recently inducted in the National Junior Honor Society. My youngest just turned 4 a few days ago, and he can spell more than 100 words. My middle son is one of the sweetest, funniest kids you’ll ever meet. He’s 5 years old and can already count to 1,000.
I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I only drink a handful of times a year, if that. I have a successful career, and I’m educated.
Are you surprised? Did you think I sat around smoking meth all day while my malnourished children cried on the floor? Were you expecting me to say that the government pays for everything I have?
Hopefully the answer to all of those questions is no, but if not...you’re not the first one to stereotype my family.
I just want you to know that your kids are safe here. We have healthy food - and plenty of it. The electric bill is paid, and your children can drink an unlimited amount of water from my kitchen faucet. We’ve got toys, TV, and video games.
I’m not less of a parent - or less of a person - just because I choose to live in a mobile home. A frugal lifestyle isn’t contagious, and I promise not to send your kids home talking about the benefits of living in a trailer park.
Missy Nolan is a single mom who is too tired to come up with a clever bio at the moment. She has been a writer for more than 10 years and loves staying home with her 3 kids. Well, most of the time. Connect with her at Make It With Missy, where you’ll find healthy recipes and grocery deals.
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