15 People Share Memories of Growing Up Poor — Prepare Your Box of Tissues

15 People Share Memories of Growing Up Poor — Prepare Your Box of Tissues15 People Share Memories of Growing Up Poor — Prepare Your Box of Tissues
Recently, redditor Luizeef posed a question on to the reddit community: 

“what memory from your childhood makes you think wow we were poor?”

The response has been incredible, with many sharing stories that will surely be a tear jerker, check out some of the stories we’ve compiled below.
Editor’s note: Answers are unedited to preserve authenticity.

“realizing that we were living in my aunts backyard, in a tent, and not camping for three months. then getting kicked out and living in a car.”

“Looking forward to school because cafeteria lunches were my most filling meal.”

“My dad breaking down and crying after realizing he didn’t have enough money to buy all the school supplies we needed.”

“hot dogs and macaroni every night. having “camp outs” at the fireplace because we couldn’t afford the electric bill. church people leaving boxes of food on our porch. my mom is the strongest person i’ve met. raising a young child as a widow and making the poverty seem fun or invisible. no words for how much i admire that woman.”

“Sitting next to the window in my room so I could read by streetlights when our power was shut off.”

“I grew up with just my mom. We were poor, on food stamps and welfare, but she made me realize just how good we had it. She’d volunteer us at soup kitchens, make me work at Meals on Wheels, and once she spent some of our meager savings on food for a friend of mine who’s dad had bailed and his mom was trying to support four kids by herself. We loaded up the shopping cart, and took the food to his house. It was seven pm, and his mom was trying to put the kids to bed because she had nothing to feed them. When she saw all the food, she cried. As we left, my mom said, “See? No matter how bad you have it, others have it worse.”

“Once my dad, mom, sister and me started a spring cleaning in our house and we didnt have dinner that day. At that time I thought it was because we just had forgotten about it but now I realize we didnt have money for food and my parents were just trying to distract us so we wouldnt be hungry.”

“I remember we were dirt-poor (we’re still kind of are. except all my siblings and I now work). I remember my mother once taking us to Burger King and just watching us play. She didn’t buy anything for herself. Never has. This isn’t the worst, but to me it now makes me sad remembering my mother in a beige trench coat, watching us play. Both my parents are incredibly humble, it makes me want to cry how people can be so selfless. And yes, ramen soup and food stamps.”

“My mom scrambling to get us fed before darting off to her second or third job every night. She was a very very determined single mom, but we struggled.”

“Going out to pick up empty beer cans on a Sunday morning so that we could sell them on for 1p each (about 1 or 2c). I also remember my Mum looking for coins everywhere like down the side of the sofa or what was left in her purse and at the end we had some small amount of money like 1.37 and she had to go find something to buy for dinner with it.”

“Ketchup sandwhiches”

“Mayonnaise sandwiches”

“…Denny’s and Taco Bell were a luxury afforded for only the highest of celebrations…My mom made deals with the local grocery store to buy their almost-expired meat (now, to be fair, my parents had been ranchers, and were aware of how to judge properly aged beef. It was expired because the dyes they used leeched out and the meat looked gray.)”

“I think the time that I realized we were poor when I was 12. My mom was working two jobs, she would get up in the morning, get me and my 3 brothers ready for school, drop us off, go to work. She would pick up a up after school, take us home, tell us to be good and then go work a second job till 9 at night. All while taking weekend classes at a college. We got boxes of food every couple of weeks from one of the local churches. So we didn’t do so bad for food. We didn’t really have many toys. We ended up having a more wealthy family give us a big tub of legos, and that was pretty much it.

Couple things stand out for me as best memories. This one summer my brother took the lawn mower and went house to house for a month, looking to mow people’s lawns for 10 a pop. He would start out at like 10 am and come home 5-6 in the evening, he was 10 mind you. He collected all this money, and, when he had enough, he bought a used n64, with like 2 games, silly thing was, we didn’t have a TV to play it on. My mom was so increddibly proud, she went and worked extra houra and got this super bad cheap 12 inch tv for us to play it on. It was the coolest thing we had until way way later.

I think it was that same year, my mom was working hard, and I knew she was saving up money for Christmas presents…but my brother got sick in october, and had to go to the doctors. I don’t remember what or why he had to go, but my mom was sad alot. We didn’t have health insurance, and what little money we did have was gone.

I remember Christmas day, hearing my mom sobbing in her bedroom, door closed, and us boys just in the living room, playing. The doorbell rang, and my mom told.me to get it. It was an old guy who lived down the street from us, he had a box of toys for us. Some old, some new…The look on my mom’s face was….I don’t have the words. The look on his face as my mom hugged that guy and cried was awesome too.

It took my mom almost ten years to finish her degree while raising us. Her big dream finally got realized and about 7 years ago she went to work as a music teacher. She bought her own house, new car….I can’t tell you how proud of her I was. This last year was the very best for her. She had started doing wonderful things, she had started writing a book about technology in the class room, had been asked to do a presentation at the national teacher conference, and had just finished her masters.

It all changed when I received a call…she had been murdered.

I think the most painful time of life was when I was going through the stuff In her house, taking care of the last few necessities, when I heard a knock on the door. The university she had been going to, special delivered her masters degree. Standing there holding it, something my mom had dreamed of, and worked so damned hard for, to get it…

“I remember opening presents at 4 AM by candlelight one year because we had no power and my dad was going to work a half hour after that.”

Featured image via Flickr, by Feltkamp
See the rest on reddit.
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