Often when I’m meeting new people, coworkers or friends and they discover I’ve been in a serious relationship for over seven years, I’m questioned on whether or not my husband and I are going to have children anytime soon. This question, which could cause tremendous amounts of bitterness because it’s none of most peoples dang business, usually is paired with my answer that shocks most: Probably not. Or my answer, “if we do, it won’t be for several years–like ten.” After I answer I’m left with judgmental eyes or further interrogation such as, “But you’re 27 years old already, you’ll be so old!” or “You’ll change your mind, just wait” or even better, “well, mistakes happen” with an accompanying devilish grin.
It shocks me that people feel so entitled to bestow upon me their opinions on what they believe should birth from my vagina. This may be hard to believe for some considering I’m quite the open book and have no problem sitting by the fire telling my friends the story of a thorough and unfortunate rectal exam experience. But instead of going all gung ho feminist on them while I spew out words about it being my vagina–not theirs, I tell them about the child I already have. His name is Chase. And then their eyes widen and they smile, “I didn’t know you had a child!”
So I respond.
Chase is quite the little shit. If I could I’d send Chase off to boarding school. But I can’t. I’m stuck with him for another sixteen years, and since I’ve had him for two already, that means once he’s 18, I will be kicking him out the door with zero additional support. I used to scoff at parents who did this. But Chase is a different story. Chase cleans my wallet quite well. He fucking spit shines the old, worn out leather. I make a small salary – nothing to brag about considering I have a college degree and many degree-less people are making the same, if not more that I do. Which is great-I’m glad people are able to make money. Regardless, my salary should be enough to let me live comfortably. But it doesn’t, and that’s all thanks to my son Chase.
I’m stuck with him until he’s 18 years old. And that my friends, is the worst thing a parent could ever say.
By this point, it’s obvious these people are disgusted with me. Who wouldn’t be if someone was listing off words of hate towards their child? But I continue on.
Don’t worry. Chase is not my husbands and my offspring. Chase is not a cute, drooling, teeny-tiny toddler running around in his diaper, smashing cheerios on the floor, antagonizing our cats, pounding children’s instruments with his fists or falling asleep on the keyboard. Chase, my son, that I’m stuck with for 18 years that has sucked me dry, is a student loan. And sadly he’s not federal. He’s a private student loan – the worst type of student loan one could obtain.
And finally the awkward silence breaks and there’s a room full of laughter.
Except I’m not laughing. In fact inside I’m crying.
I remember when I became impregnated with Chase. I was nearly 20 years old. I had a college education to pay for with absent parental advice on student loans. And then JP Morgan arrived on that hot, humid, sunny summer day. I leaned back in the chair out in my mothers back yard half naked plucking my violin strings with my gnawed off fingernails. JP Morgan showed up and saw me sitting there, tan, thin, naive and took advantage of me. JP Morgan knew I was sub-prime and pardon my french, but JP didn’t give a fuck. As long as I had a co-signer, it was just a matter of a few phone calls and an electronic signature, and a $32,000 check was cut and thrown in the mail to me. I could go to college!
I didn’t think about my private loans. Everyone else was doing it. The pressure to go to college no matter how you made it happen was the largest amount of pressure I had ever felt in my life. I was never pressured as a teen or young adult to do drugs, drink or have sex. I was however pressured to go to college even if I couldn’t afford it, and that “the better, more expensive college, was the only way you were ever going to get anywhere in life.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not regret my college experience. I can’t imagine my life without it. But what I really can’t imagine my life without, is living without the burden of my private student loan debt. I can’t imagine living my life making $35,000 a year and being to actually be able to buy myself groceries or put gas in my car or fuck, save for retirement. My private student loans suck me dry. They take about a thousand dollars a month and that’s just the bare minimum! This will continue on every single month until at least 2030. The one paycheck per month I don’t have to put towards my student loans barely pays my utility bills and rent. I have nothing left over. Zip, nada, none.
I often get people telling me to suck it up and to go get a part-time job. If only it was that easy. When you have a college degree and this much debt, you desire to put that money to work and find a job at least somewhat in the field that you studied. This means I work jobs that are not as forgiving for the hours that I must put in. Finding a part-time job that works with my full-time career job hours is like finding a needle in a haystack. Go try it and put a blindfold on while you do it if you want to compare how difficult it has been the past year searching for a part-time job that fits with my full-time job. Don’t forget to figure in sitting in traffic for copious amounts of time and also the time you need to change into a uniform or prep for your second position. It leaves me with very few or little-to-none opportunities. And those opportunities that are present are given to high school kids. And don’t even get me started on “being overqualified” and how it’s so confusing to these part-time job employers why someone with a degree and full-time job wants to fold clothes all night for $8.00 an hour after working long daytime hours.
I’m not making excuses. Please, go find me a part-time job that fits with my career hours. Please do it. I beg you for the assistance.
Regardless, I am struggling and I will be struggling for the next 16 years unless a miracle happens and I land a job making six figures. Having a child with my husband seems like a joke. We can barely afford to feed ourselves, let alone another human being, on top of all of the other necessities we’d need, such as diapers, clothes, co-pays for doctor’s appointments, books, toys, childcare, and you know, saving for their college education. And quite frankly admitting next what I’m about to is depressing: having a child could possibly be the absolute worst thing that could happen to us.
Whenever a friend of mine tells me she is pregnant I’m so excited for her. Whenever I see said pregnant friend and her in-womb baby start to grow, I get giddy. Whenever I’m listening to stories of people’s children or grandchildren, or I see a little baby trying to crawl or embraces me with a hug, my eyes well up with tears. I love children and of course, I’d love to have a family with my husband. But it’s just not feasible at all, because I’ve got Chase. Oh, and Sallie Mae. Don’t forget about her.
There is so much talk in the news that these friends and coworkers have reminded me of about President Obama helping me and people like me out with student loan debt relief. But I always have to remind them that it’s for federal student loans and that there is literally no help for people with private student loans. This to them is just another excuse of mine. But open your eyes people. It’s not an excuse. It’s the truth. There is very little or even NO relief for people with private student loans. There are income base repayment programs that help federal loans, as well as economic deferments. But there is no income base repayment with Chase. And in order for me to get one month free of paying Chase with a deferment, I have to make a full years worth of payments. It’s not really help at all. And this can’t be pushed to the back burner any longer.
President Obama, can you please help us out? Private student loans are no different than federal loans– we all took out some type of loan to help fund our education. Why can’t we help the young people who just wanted to get an education?
President Obama, if you really want to help people with student loans, then something must be done to provide substantial relief for people with private student loans. And relief for private student loans needs to happen SOON–or really now.
After all, we are the ones who drive this economy. And if I have nothing left over to even put food in my refrigerator, then I have nothing left over to give back to this economy. I have nothing to be able to start my family which would only just aid in making this country flourish the way it should with educated individuals and educated youth which we all know are the future of this country.