This is one in a series of articles
examining foreclosure in the September issue. See
Gisela Alcantar and her husband don't
tell their four young children about the six months of mortgage
payments they can't pay.
"We have tried not to let them get
involved, for their own sake," Alcantar says as she laid out her
plight in an interview amid the avocado and salmon walls of her
local Neighborhood Counseling Services office, which helps
homeowners negotiate with lenders to keep their homes.
"We're still hoping we can come to some
kind of agreement with the bank."
But holding their tongues can't
completely insulate her flock from the silent forces of
foreclosure. Their kids, ranging in age from 3 to 6, "definitely
are aware of changes in the family," she says.
For one thing, her kids see that mom
and dad get into a lot more quarrels than they used to. And kids
don't have to be very old to wonder why mom says no to the little
extras they used to plop into the grocery cart.
"When I tell them we can't afford it,
they ask me, 'Why? Daddy's working two jobs,'" Alcantar says. "I
tell them it's still not enough."
Alcantar and her husband, in their 30s,
moved from a North Side apartment three years ago to take advantage
of lower home prices with a five-bedroom bungalow.
Spotlight on Foreclosure
They were keen on the finished
two-bedroom basement where her parents could live and help out with
the mortgage payment. With three bedrooms upstairs, there was a
room for the two girls and one for the two boys.
The loan the Alcantar family signed was
not sub-prime. Everything was fine until Grandpa got sick and could
no longer help with the payments. Then dad's full-time restaurant
job was cut to two days. He recently picked up a building
maintenance gig, but the Alcantars are still falling behind.
If the family can't keep the house,
Alcantar thinks her parents may move in with a sister in
Bolingbrook. She doesn't know about the rest of the family.
Alcantar, who used to work as an
accountant, pays the family bills. So she's the one lying awake,
adding and subtracting, dreaming up ways to borrow from Peter to
A tired, worried mom is a crabby mom,
"It reflects on the children, on the
way I treat them," she says. "I'm not as patient with them and the
way I handle things."
Robyn Monaghan is a mother and long-time journalist.
See more of Robyn's stories here.
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