Often I wonder if the idea of a deadbeat father is ingrained in us. When I was a little girl, I used to play house like all little girls. I would have three dolls that were my children, and a complete home that was created at scale for my bedroom. I was also a career woman in my version of pretend, and when my mother would ask me where my pretend husband was, I would respond “I don’t even know where he went, I’m a single mother.” This is kind of an odd response from a little girl who had parents that were still married at the time. Of course, children do sense things, and I was pretty well aware of the unhappiness that my mother felt in her marriage. So as a child, I must have assumed at an early age that women were expected to do everything, raise the children and bring home the bacon, all on their own.
My parents did get a divorce, and I didn’t really see my father all that much after the age of 10. My mother worked three jobs at one time in order to make ends meet for the two of us and my older brother. For a long time, I didn’t even realize it was so hard for her because I never really went wanting. In all fairness, my brother and I were never materialistic kids, but that was just another good thing that we learned from our mother. It was a loving household and my mother did everything she could as a single mother to make us happy. When my mother, brother and I moved to a new town, when I was 10 to be closer to my mother’s parents, my dad insisted that my mom would fail and we would be on welfare. That never happened. My dad didn’t realize how strong and intelligent my mother really is. Every expense including two sets of braces, were all managed solely by my mother. My dad sent an occassional check for a minor amount of money, but never paid the child support he was court ordered to. After all of that, my brother and I grew up and both were able to attend college, he went to a state school and I went to a private university. All because of that strong single mother.
Cut to years later, and now I have really become a single mother. My husband and I have been separated since July but the divorce papers cannot be finalized until I give birth to our daughter this month. Not surprisingly, he became a deadbeat dad. I have to work my ass off with a day time job as a leasing agent and a nighttime job as a writer. I have to be super thrifty about everything and I do not get a single penny from him. He promised me he would pay for all the diapers; he’s bought one box in 6 months. He promised me he would pay for the health insurance for me and my son; he never paid a single premium or doctors visit. Now that I found out that he has screwed himself financially and has no prospects of employment, I don’t expect another cent from the man. Worse than the money issue, is the lack of interest he has in his son. He didn’t call on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. He hasn’t seen him in 5 weeks. Since my son is nearly 16 months old, he learns something new every day. It truly is amazing to see how wonderful and brilliant he is, and his loser father doesn’t even care.
So it’s a shame to see the deadbeat fathers, and for the record, my ex’s father was a terrible father too. There is a silver lining to all of this. My father is now retired and has been cleaning up his act. When he found out that my husband and I were having problems and planned to divorce, he moved in with me to help me financially and become a full-time babysitter. My son loves his grandpa and has a great time. It is a wonderful thing when a deadbeat dad can rise to the occasion and actually become a good father.