Milk for my babies

My son, daughter in law and 2 grandchildren came to visit this week.  For several days ahead, I had asked them what kind of milk to get for the kids.  (they drink some kind of special soy milk due to dairy allergies)  They repeatedly said don’t worry about it,  they won’t need it.  I was so bugged by that, and couldn’t figure out why.

I was completely unsettled about milk for those babies.  I finally went to get their milk the night before they got here.  It may have been the wrong kind, but damn it, I was getting milk for my babies.

On the way home from the store, it struck me…..

When my son was 2, his Dad and I separated.  I lived alone in a very small, cheap, roach infested apartment.  Neil and his Dad lived in our house.

I had NO money.  The very little money I had, went to college tuition.  I worked part time at the college snack bar flipping burgers and pouring pitchers of beer for the rich kids from Anapolis and Baltimore.  It was a smelly job (I dont like beer, or the smell of it) since I often had to mop up the beer that drunk students dumped on the floor.  The pay also stunk.

My apartment was dismal.  It had so many roaches that my kitten played with them all day.  He would bat them across the room, then chase after them.

If I turned on a burner on the stove, there was an exodus of roaches.  I never turned the oven on.  ever.  never ever.  I don’t know if I ever even opened it.  I was afraid to.  The fridge was no better.  The gasket was broken, so it really only kept food cool, not cold.  And the roaches could get in it too.  The only food I ever bought while living there was a 6 pack of Pepsi (cans) and a package of Chips Ahoy every week. The cookie package could reseal by rolling the end up and folding the tabbed ends.  The roaches couldn’t get in it.  It was all I could afford.  I was merely in survival mode.

So, when I would get Neil for the weekend, it was a problem.  I loved having him… but I never quite knew how I would feed him.  I didn’t have enough money to buy additional food, nor could I leave food in the fridge.  Each time I picked him up, I hoped that Gary would throw some snacks in his bag.  Sometimes he did, sometimes not.  When he did, I was really grateful.  I was too proud/stubborn/stupid to ask him for more help than he had already willingly given me.  For sure, he would not have denied his son.

So…. I had no milk for my baby.  I would cry myself to sleep when I could not scrounge enough money to buy milk on those weekends.  Maybe it was only a few times, but each time it happened, it about killed me.  It didn’t take long to discover that if I took Neil with me to the college snackbar, my coworkers would feed him.  They weren’t supposed to, nor did I ask, but they did it.  Neil would say something like ” fwench fwies Mama??”  and they would make him some fries.  Or give him something else to eat that he would point out.

And that stinky floor mopping job?  I realized that if I watched carefully,  I would often find money on the beer covered floor when I mopped… and that money bought milk for my baby.


………. so…. that is why it was so darn important that I have milk for my grandbabies this week.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. myolivebranch
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 23:28:27

    dang it girl. i HATE to cry. i’m one of those “ugly” criers. and here i am with my face all screwed up and big googly wet eyeballs and mascara covered cheeks and snot on my lip. thanks alot.


  2. Diana W
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 08:22:41

    Look how far you’ve come. You survived this worst of times and your son is thriving. I wonder if he remembers this time as such a hardship? I bet not. He most likely remembers that time as how fun it was at mommy’s and he got “fwench fwies” and other treats. As a mother I certainly can understand your heartache. You write so well and you brought us right back to that time when you couldn’t afford milk for your baby. Thank God that time is gone. Be well friend.


  3. Freda Henderson
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 09:28:20

    I’m misty eyed too Gayle. You are a awesome Mother and that is what your son remembers. Glad your babies got milk.


  4. sammi
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 11:09:07

    leak leak leak


  5. Anonymous
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 11:46:09

    You sound like my mother, always willing to do for us and put herself second. I remember that my mother always made sure that we had shoes that fit. Her toes are all messed up from years of wearing shoes that didn’t fit her when she growing up poor. It is life lessons that make us better people if we pay attention. You are truly blessed, thank you for sharing. I am so glad that we met in the market…. XX


    • Gayle
      Jul 03, 2009 @ 12:25:39

      Since you signed in anonymously, I have no idea who you are. You could email to let me know so I can quit racking my brain trying to figure out the mystery! mazonsquilting AT


  6. shirley bruner
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 12:17:30

    I can relate very well. i stole a can of milk for my baby when he was very young and i had no money and payday was days away. and i also lived in one of those roach places, too. haven’t we come a long way!! love, love your blog…..and you, too.


  7. Sherri Godfrey
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 14:21:12

    I never had children but I remember well the days of pinching pennies to have enough food till next payday, and the upstairs apartment that would be around 100 degrees on the hot days. No phone, no TV, just a portable radio and a few books for entertainment. Gosh, Gayle, you bring it all back. Glad we made it through to better days.


  8. Roberta
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 10:55:39

    Not fair to make me cry. What hard days, what memories. They are all part of the amazing person you are today.


  9. BeckyP
    Jul 07, 2009 @ 04:22:19

    OHHH…i hear ya!!!


  10. Christine Olson
    Jul 08, 2009 @ 14:18:45

    You are an amazing woman. Obviously, you have been for a very long time. Thank you for sharing a part of your life that is not only poignant but helped to temper the steel within you.

    God bless you!


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