Wow. Just-wow. On another one of my favorite single mom blogs, the discussion has turned ugly and some woman has suddenly decided that there are way too many bitter, angry single mamas out there. To give this person (who, by the way, wouldn't even leave a real name) a little bit of credit, I don't think her initial comment was meant to be construed as "mean," even though it came across that way. Her response to some of the other comments, though, WAS mean, and it just makes me weary. I have blogged about this before, I will blog about it again, and for those of you who are T.I.R.E.D. of hearing the same thing over and over again, please stop reading now. I am SO on a rant about this one.
The question was asked, and I have heard it before, "How did you fall for someone like that? You are smart, pretty, etc..." and yeah, yeah, so we made poor choices. Shoot us now because we are human. The thing is, even now, I cannot look back at my choice to marry my ex-husband as a mistake. Regardless of the way we met and the haste in which we married, regardless of my personal issues that drove me to choose this particular man, I went into the relationship and marriage with the highest hopes. I went into the partnership with another person wanting to give him love and affection and caring and support; I loved him. It is so easy for me now, 12 years later, to see that I didn't really love him, that I had all this other stuff going on and so really had no idea what the word "love" meant, and that is true. However, 12 years ago, it felt like love to me, and I really believed that we were going to be happy. I am well aware that I would not be in the mess I am in-5 years post-divorce!-had I not married him, but that knowledge now has nothing to do with the person I was then.
I know that my bitterness and anger (and yes, dear Reader, I freely admit that I am both bitter and angry) is hard both for people to understand and to deal with. The bitch part of me thinks "Oh fucking well. Not my problem." However, for some strange reason I seem to be mellowing just a little bit (and I am sure it will pass) and I really want to try to give people a glimpse into my life and perhaps get a small bit of understanding from them. I want to be able to explain why I am bitter and angry and all of those other things I have been called.
My bitterness and anger stems from the fact that we as a nation do not hold these men accountable. Not just MY ex-husband, but every man in the world who has overnight made the decision to walk away from his children and family. There are court orders and laws in place to "assure" that moms and their kids are at least given some sort of financial support, but that is no guarantee that the absent fathers are actually going to PAY that; the deadbeat dad laws in place look really, really good on paper, but when it comes to implementing them, well, let's just say they are a joke and leave it at that. And there are no laws or mandates or anything in effect that will force a man to be a parent to their children-nothing. I would not bitch about the money part of it were Sam's dad present in his life; I would not complain about having to provide everything for my son if his dad was at least emotionally and physically available for Sam. It would still be hard, of course-but for me, the money is a concrete, tangible thing about which I can complain; the emotional implications of his absence in his son's life are far more pervasive and much less easily explained.
We are asked, dear reader, how we smart and pretty and funny and talented women could ever fall for assholes like we did. How about we change the question: how is it that men can use their fists or their words to batter us, emotionally or physically, and get away with it? How have we as a nation allowed this to continue to happen? How have our parents raised men who think that this kind of behavior is at all acceptable, and even condoned? And here is another little scenario: if we women walk out on our children and don't provide for their needs, we get our children taken away and we go to jail. What happens to the men who have abandoned their children just as surely? N.O.T.H.I.N.G. It is somehow seen as okay for children to be raised without their fathers, despite the fact that statistics show that fatherless children get into more trouble, have more behavioral and mental issues, and further go on to abandon THEIR children; it is a vicious cycle, and while we bitter single mamas are doing all we can, it is often like bailing a leaking rowboat with a teaspoon-impossible.
I just want to weep sometimes with the futility of the battle we are fighting. I have watched my ex-husband go from woman to woman, spending time and money on families that are not his own, and it makes me see red-because in the eyes of the world, it is okay for him to be doing this, but not okay for me to even date. I hear the lies he tells to people about what a bitch I am for keeping him from seeing his son, and never once have I heard someone ask WHY. They take him at face value, and perpetuate the lie. A note for my women readers: when a man tells you that his cunt of an ex won't let him see his children, that should probably be a red flag to you-because believe me, it is NOT easy to keep a parent from a child if said parent wants to be in their lives. It took me two years and a lot of tears and fear and pain and worry in order to get this far-and he did not even really FIGHT the custody issue; the courts sure did. I had to prove over and over again that he was unfit to have even partial custody, and the funny thing is that he didn't even want it. Yet who is there to hold him accountable? The court? Other men? The women with whom he has hooked up? No; it is too easy to blame me.
I don't have any answers; I know that there are a lot of things I think should be different, but they aren't. I wish that the really great husbands and fathers would have the balls to tell their loser buddies, "dude-this isn't right." I wish that more of the upstanding men would be extremely vocal about the way deadbeat dads are leaving a nation of damaged kinds in their wake. I wish more women would stop buying into the "I don't get to see me kid" sob story and instead question the "why" of it; while of course there ARE women who use their kids as weapons, they are not nearly as prevalent as the men would like you to believe. I wish that I would never hear another man complain about how miserable he is with his wife/girlfriend/partner simply because it is "the thing" to do; I know several men who, when they get with their buddies, can bad mouth their wives to beat the band, but who actually adore them and would walk through fire for them AND their kids-it just isn't manly these days to SAY that. I wish-well. I wish a lot of things, but what I wish more than anything is that people would just open their eyes a little bit wider and see that perhaps we bitter single mamas have a reason, a legitimate one, for feeling the way we do.
And believe me, I don't WANT to be bitter, I really don't. It is something I struggle with almost daily. However, three years ago I fell in love-totally, deeply, the-kind-you-don't-get-over-in-love with someone, with Owen's dad. And part of the reason we are never going to be together is because he has grown up his whole life seeing the ravages of divorce, feeling the same abandonment issues that MY son Sam feels, he has heard the jokes about wife beating and heard the men in his life bad mouth women at every turn, and he will never give himself over to taking a chance on being happy. To taking a chance on loving someone and making a life together. That itself is bad enough. What is worse is that in the eyes of the world, I am not supposed to want that anyway; I am not supposed to date, because I might expose my kids to some sort of revolving door syndrome and give them ideas about sex that they shouldn't have. I mean, when I got pregnant with Owen, it was predicted that Hannah would be pregnant withing the year because I was single mom who had sex and got pregnant, therefore she would, too. Nothing at all was said about Steve, who obviously also had sex outside of wedlock. No kind of prediction was made about his future, no aspersions cast on his moral or religious beliefs, no suggestion was made that he might be at all responsible. How is that possible, and why is that right? It isn't.
It is just so frustrating and disheartening to be blamed so often, for so much. Not just by our nation, but by other women. I am tired of being told that I should not want home and family and husband, how I should be content to sit back and watch other families get together for the holidays and exchange gifts and be with people they love, how it should be enough that I have my kids. It is, and it isn't. I am tired of defending myself at every turn for things for which there IS no defense. I cannot make things any different than they are; all I can do is simply keep going, and hold my head up with as much grace and dignity and beauty as I possibly can. It's like my kids-sometimes it is enough, and sometimes it isn't.