Basic income for s̶i̶n̶g̶l̶e̶ parents, now!
Or, money is love.
I am fed up.
I am fed up with being told I do not work enough. I am fed up with being told (by myself as well as others) I need to find a partner who will provide for my daughter and me. I am fed up being asked by my neighbors why I didn’t do the garden, it is looking so untidy. I am fed up asking for help from my dad to pay our rent. I am fed up taking jobs that are not paid what people should be paying just because I need the money.
More than anything else though, I am fed up with men who take advantage of my situation. Fed up with men who ask me if I want to sleep with them for money. I know, it sounds ridiculous. How could anyone suggest that? But it happened more often than men have actually stepped in and been plain helpful by, say, cooking a meal for us without expecting anything in return. Too deep is the belief that once a woman has let a man into her life, her home, and that once he was supportive to her in some way, the logical consequence is that she will sleep with him sooner or later. May this ignorance and disrespect be forgiven by somebody sometime — I am having a hard time to do so.
And I wonder: Is it really so hard to give? To show unconditional love?
Work = money
I wish the statement had become more true to me by the number of times that it was repeated to me: Well, if you do not have enough money, maybe you should work more. I know it is a reasonable statement. It is how things are done by a good amount of people. You work, you get money. But what underlies that statement is the glaring injustice of some human activities being categorized as “worth paying” while other activities (and guess who does most of them, we all know the story) are being taken for granted.
Sure, there is more gainful work than making a paper robot with a five-year-old. Only, this five-year-old happens to be my daughter. By making a paper robot I do a lot more than just cutting and glueing some shapes together. I am building a relationship. One that is going to last a lifetime. One that is going to decide about a good deal of both my and her future relations with our selves and others. (Ask any psychologist about what makes the majority of problems that people come to them about — my bet is, that a high percentage evolves around childhood issues of traumatization, early bonding and security issues.)
I am also preparing a human being for life in a world that generations before her messed up and continue to mess up. What else could I do than give her all the love, respect and skills I have to share and provide her with a sense of basic trust, the ability to reason and observe, the inner strength and integrity to stand up for who she is? This is my task now, my responsibility. It may be shared, but it can not be outsourced.
What is wrong in the equation?
Being a single mother for two years now, I have had some time to contemplate about the question, whether I am wrong with doing what I do, or whether society is wrong, with framing what I do as “granted” and “not enough work”.
I have also had some time for testing. Testing what kind of life works well for us, one end of the scale being almost all of our time spent with each other; the other end being me working so much that I was literally organizing my daughter’s life away between kindergarden, her dad’s place, and home. I have experienced all the ups & downs, what makes us happy and what does not. What life style suits our needs best, is sustainable, allows us to thrive and be connected with each other, our selves, and the world.
I have concluded that society is wrong. In fact, anybody who — conscious- or unconsiously — tries to tell me, what I do is not enough to earn an income that can provide for my daughter and me, is wrong. Wrong in the sense that the underlying believes belong to a mindset, a world view that is ready to fall apart. It no longer serves humanity.
Money makes the world go round
So far, I did not try to reduce my bill by singing a song for the boy at the cash register. I did not call the phone company if they would be okay with me writing some nice facebook comments in return for them dropping my monthly bill. Or teaching my landlords how to make a crochet rug. ̶Af̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶,̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶I̶ ̶m̶a̶y̶b̶e̶ ̶s̶u̶g̶g̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶?̶ B̶̶̶u̶̶̶t̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶y̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶t̶w̶o̶,̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶̶̶m̶̶̶a̶̶̶r̶̶̶r̶̶̶i̶̶̶e̶̶̶d̶̶̶.̶ ̶W̶e̶l̶l̶,̶ ̶m̶a̶y̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶e̶e̶s̶o̶m̶e̶̶̶.̶.̶.̶/̶̶̶s̶a̶r̶c̶a̶s̶m̶ ̶o̶f̶f̶)
People expect me to pay money for things. Quite a lot of money. Every month. On time, more or less. Now, where am I supposed to get that money, assumed I want to live a life of our choice? I have considered a few short-term options lately. Selling my accordion was one. Another one was sleeping in a tent in our backyard while subletting our room. I even caught myself pondering who I would actually want to sleep with for money (still working on that one).
Then, I asked my single mother friends about their strategies. It was disturbing. They are all struggling. Some of them have suicidal thoughts. All of them are at least partly dependent on relationships (be it to lovers, friends, family or ex-partners) that they would not keep up in the same way if they were financially independent. They are torn between doing what they know to be the best for their children and themselves and doing what society requires them to do in order to not end up on the street. In fact, one mother is just a stone’s throw away from being homeless. Even some of the parents I know who are married or in a serious relationship with each other, are keeping this relationship up for economic reasons, not in the first place because they love each other.
Being a mother is enough
I took my decision. I am not going to compromise. The reason why is: I know from my deepest heart, that the work I do is enough. It is enough to show all the love and patience and gratitude to my daughter, every day. It is enough to make her laugh and dry her tears and share my observations of the world with her and carefully listen to her story of why things are the way they are. It is enough to create an environment in which she can thrive — learn to express her self, her soul, her emotions and build a deep connection to the world, the other. It is enough to take the time (there is little time for that already in any committed parent’s life) to care about myself, do some exercising, meditation, singing or see a friend every once in a while. All that might not be paid yet, but it is meaningful and necessary work.
Love makes the world go round
I see a new mindset on the rise: There are places in people’s hearts as well as in the world, where life is seen as a gift. Where interactions are deeply rooted in compassion, trust, respect and love. Can you feel the support that these qualities are getting right now? It is time for a change. If mothers and fathers can give their unconditional love to their children (let alone vice versa), then there must be more people out there who are capable of giving unconditionally.
Is that not, what any basic income is — unconditional love that comes in the form of money? Looking into history I figure it is going to take some time for politicians and economies to change to new models of gifting and basic incomes. Meanwhile, you are welcome to follow me building my own support network. Become my patreon. Carry your money to somebody who is already giving, not to a company that is misusing it to produce things nobody ever needed or to place more advertisments.
Support your local single parent friend. Help them out by cooking a meal for them or taking their kid out for two hours. Unconditionally. Without expecting anything in return. Trust that the gift will be returned to you, somewhere, someday.