I read my friend April's blog all of the time, because we are such similar creatures; the issue of single-parenthood, similar ex-husbands, and it always make me stop and think about different things. I have wanted to post for along while about this single-parenthood, and did on my Gather page, but it somehow isn't enough. It is NEVER enough. I can talk until I am blue in the face, but unless you are there now or have been there in the past, you just don't get it. I think in so many ways, people in general just don't get how hard it is sometimes. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, we single mothers make up a large amount of the population, yet somehow society seems to have overlooked the very basic fact that were it not for men who are willing to walk away, we would not exist. This is one of my biggest problems with the whole issue of single-parenthood. Like April, my ex (the last one, as I have had two!)was/is a drug addict, who not only chose not to do the work to get and stay clean, but also chose to, quite simply, disappear. Literally. This happened several times during the marriage, even more times since. The last time we saw him, he was at my house having a supervised visit, he told my son, "I will see you next weekend," and it took three months for me to even find out where he lived. Yet I am somehow to blame for the fact that I am now parenting four children on my own. I cannot even pretend to understand this, and no longer try. However, I don't have to understand it to know that it is true. Just recently I was called by my oldest son's school, asking for a meeting. This Honor's Student, the remarkable brilliant boy, is failing five of his six classes. When I agreed to this meeting, the teacher asked if I could bring my husband; when I told him I don't have one, his response, in this flat tone, was, "Oh. A single parent." Do you think I don't know what that means? Whether he came right out and said ot or not, the message was "Oh, that explains it. "
No. It doesn't explain it. I might be a statistic, but this is the kind of stuff the statistics don't take into account: what about the fact that my daughter, about whom I wrote in another post, chose to live with her dad and stepmom for a year last year? She was promised the world; her own room, money to buy things with, a closet full of Abercrombie and Pac-Sun clothes, unlimited attention. She DID get all of those things, but where does she live now? Back with me, where we can have discussions about birth control and school and who is the cutest boy in her class, where she can go to bed every night feeling safe and taken care of and, more than anything else, totally loved by someone who believes, absolutely, that she is an amazing person. Those little numbers don't take into account that until last month, there was 13 year old boy who tested at genius level on his IQ tests. He is a cross-country runner, a popular boy, he sings in the choir and has good friends. The other two boys are happy, well-adjusted, friendly little creatures. And all four of them are well-fed, well-clothed, well loved. With no help from their father(s), including financial help, I have raised/continued to raise four lovely, healthy, happy kids. How, then, is this a failure?
I am not the one who failed. I take responsibility for my own choices and the part I played in the problems in both my marriages, as well as in my current "relationship." However, when push came to shove, I was the one who stuck it out. Not the marriages; when someone wants out bad enough, they are going to find a way to either leave or force you out. And I believe that there are times when divorce is the only way to save not just yourself, but your children. Don't look at me, my life, and tell me I am a failure. Don't tell me I didn't love my husband enough, don't tell me that if I was more loving (i.e. fucking him more often) that he wouldn't have an affair, don't TELL me that I made my own bed so I have to lie in it. Not only is that completely wrong, but it doesn't help.
Every day I wake up and know that I live in a world where men are allowed to just walk away and not uphold their responsibilities. I live, still, in a world where not only do I make less money than me, but am penalized for having children. Tell me, what about the men whose children I have? Where are they? Let me tell you this: Ex-husband #2 is currently floating somewhere between Idaho and Oregon, unwilling to get a job because then he has to pay some of the $12,000 he is behind on child support. He also, for about three months, qualified for Food Stamps and Medical care in Oregon, due to an accident he got into while he was high, while I have no insurance and don't qualify for Food Stamps. And there is no recourse for me, no way to force him into being responsible. I am guilty in the past of wishing he would die just so Sam could get Social Security. Does that make me feel proud? Hell no-but it makes me normal. So I know all of this, I know that I am completely on my own, yet I still get up every morning and start it all over again. To me-showing up and living life-is great success, not failure.