Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Real Dads Don’t Leave…Real Moms Don’t Make Them

For whatever reason, you guys seem to like it better when I talk about myself.  All this time, I’m planning to educate the world and teach Intro to Sociology via my blog and yet, all you crazy people want is to read about my personal life.

Well, fine then.

Yesterday, I was reading Single Dad Laughing’s post about dads who leave.  I have a lot of experience with that.  My own parents divorced when I was five and that was the 80’s when non-custodial parents really didn’t get much.  I’m not excusing it, I’m just sayin’.

There are a lot of reasons moms and dads don’t work things out even after the divorce happens.  I’m not sure I understand most of them because I generally think that the adult ego winds up severely limiting the best options for the kids involved.  SDL’s point yesterday was that basically dad’s need to “man up” (Lord have mercy I hate that phrase) and my point is that parents need to grow-up.

I got clean in January 2006.  In March of that year, I met my ex-husband.  I was seriously lonely, having given up all my social outlets, I was broke with hardly anything to eat and practically living in self-inflicted squalor, all while attempting to go to school for the third time. (More on the living conditions at another time.)  ExH came in and made sure I was fed, gave me an ultimatum to stay clean and helped me clean up the shit hole I’d turned my house into.  That’s the good.

The bad and the seriously ugly aren’t really all that important because I’m not too interested in bashing my son’s father on the internet.  We’ll just say that I really didn’t understand all facets of domestic abuse until I took Violence against Women shortly after our divorce.  In that class, we talked about myths surrounding violence and abuse, one of which is that men who abuse their wives or partners can be good fathers.

I do not agree that this is a myth.

It may very well be the exception, but I’m not sure “myth” is the right word.  I’m glad I did not accept that, either, or my son would have seriously missed out.

Here’s the deal.  When you decide to get divorced, no matter how justified and right that decision is, you are doing a disservice to your child in most situations. (Yes, again, there are exceptions and those include mortal danger to you and your child, sexual abuse, etc.) In most instances, each parent is fully capable of acting like an adult, but in so many instances, they choose to act like children; one child bullying the other or both act as if the world revolves around them.

I understand the wish, as a woman running from a controlling relationship, the need even, to run as far and as fast as possible.  Boy howdy, do I .  But, it isn’t, er, wasn’t all about me.  It was all about my son.

When the ExH demanded joint custody, I was furious.  It had never occurred to me that he would even want that, much less that it would even be a good idea to consider.

I’m so glad I did.

I realized how important it was that I sucked up my own discomfort through all the months of bickering and feeling out a new type of relationship called “co-parenting” when I interned at the Carroll County Mediation Center last summer.  So many divorce cases where one parent can’t or won’t pay child support and the other parent holds the child as collateral until the non-custodial parent pays up.  The kids are always stuck in the middle, fed poison by one side and neglected by the other.  As SDL said yesterday, when you’re the dad (well, the “other” parent, I think is more appropriate) you fight for your kid.  You do what you’re supposed to and you work out a way to successfully build a relationship with your kid in spite of less than satisfactory conditions.

My son sees his father at least two days a week, barring special circumstances, but our regular agreement is 3-4 days a week with each parent.

Sometimes, that really sucks.

I can’t move out of the country, hell I can’t even move to a new state.  I do lots of driving and shuffling back and forth.  I feel like the ExH will always have some say in my life, practically forever and that’s something I really don’t like.  But you know what?  I get a lot of things other single mom’s don’t get.

I get to have at least two nights a week to myself.  I can be Alana and not Mommy.  I can do school work uninterrupted.  I can have a social life with my friends and The Boyfriend…all things single parents doing it alone have to fight for.

My son gets both parents.  He deserves to have both of us 100% of the time, but the best we can do is around 50%, which really isn’t good enough, as far as I’m concerned.  He knows that both Mommy and Daddy love and adore him.  He knows that we made compromises we really didn’t want to make on a personal level in order to do the best for him.

I am so far away from being a Super Mom.  I have it so easy in comparison.  I get angry and yell and say things I shouldn’t.  I often have little patience and wonder if I should even be allowed to be a mother in the first place.  But, I do some things right.  Acting like a grown-up when it was the most important thing for my son was one of them.  I’d like to encourage others going through divorce and separation to consider maturity when weighing the options of behavior as the best choice.

I mean, I’m just sayin’.

Written by thelittlepecan

December 21, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in atheism

Tagged with , , ,

10 Responses

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  1. *and


    December 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

    • I so appreciate everyone’s stories and insight. Divorce and all it entails is a complicated matter and I’m glad for all of you who share.


      December 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

  2. My kids had met their father all during the years we were together; they knew how he was. Telling them he was not a total dick would have been ridiculous after the fact. I am not capable of pretending like that.

    But I didn’t have any choices in his divorce, I was railroaded into everything because, hell, even my own lawyer made it clear what a loser epic fail as a human being, much less a parent I was.


    December 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

    • I don’t think you should ever pretend that someone is something they are not. This is an issue Jim and I deal with occasionally. How to be truthful to his boys about their mother without lying and without demonizing her either. It’s a complicated situation.

      I do not think one parent should bad mouth the other parent. I think you should be honest without being cruel.


      December 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm

  3. I don’t know if I’ll actually add to this convo…But my parents divorced when I was 3 (I think). He was cheating. I think their relationship was slowly dissolving just a year or two after I was born. Dad stayed in FL (we were there for only 6 months, otherwise I have always been in WI). Mom and us kids moved back to WI. Dad didn’t argue with Mom about the custody issue. She could have us full-time, with visitation rights and he had to pay child support. We saw him once a year. It was a plane ride to FL that must have always scared the crap out of my Mom. We flew alone at a very young age.

    Anyway, the trips to FL were weird. My step-mom was a freaking beast who hated the yearly reminder that he had a family before he met her. My dad was/is a workaholic who wasn’t home much when we were there. My sister had no relationship with him but I always felt a close bond to him (I was the older one and over the years I realized that I was really close to him when they were still together).

    My mom didn’t know how to properly censor her thoughts and feeling when she was having bad days so we heard too much about the divorce at a young age. This created a built-in resentment. If I had a good relationship with my dad, that meant that I was a “traitor” of sorts to my mom because of what my Dad put Mom through.

    My mom still probably doesn’t have a clue as to how her words negatively affected me (I won’t assume how my sister feels). But she believes with all of her being that she did what was best for her children. If someone were to tell her to “grow up”, she would have told them to “Fuck off!!”. My Dad has regrets and they haunt him still. He will readily admit that he was a coward and he basically ran from us to escape the guilt he felt.

    Anyway, I don’t even know if I have a point…Joint Custody is great if both parents are focused on the child. It’s terrible if they are focused on themselves. Not having a good relationship with my Dad fucked me up. I was one who really needed that positive, close, male relationship and I didn’t get it. If my mom wasn’t so focused on her pain and looking for ways to hate my father even more and if my Dad would have “man-ed up” and took responsibility for the mess he made, us kids would have been much better off.

    Xepher Borchaf

    December 21, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  4. Wow, that’s a lot to respond to and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling just a little bit of that judgement you feel others are placing on parents who don’t do their jobs.

    I only saw my father every other weekend and a few other extended times like summer or Christmas. I also felt like there were two types of behavior expected from at my mom’s house and my dad’s house. I desperately wanted to see my father more, but when I was there, I was very uncomfortable.

    That is not because I should have only been with one parent. It was because I didn’t know my dad and he didn’t know me. We weren’t comfortable around each other, which is something we still deal with today.

    No one forced anyone in our divorce to do anything. We came to an agreement on our own. There are no huge differences in rules because we do something revolutionary in parenting, we talk to each other . Crazy, I know.

    We talk to each other at least once a week for an extended period on the phone and usually chat when Graham is being dropped off. He see that we talk about what is going on with him, what is going on with each parent and he sees that we are almost ALWAYS in agreement with each other when it comes to parenting. There are obviously going to be some disagreements, but I’ll tell you, we’ve been separated for almost three years and those times have been very, very few.

    We live in the same town and he is no more shuffled back and forth than a kid, like I was, who had four different places to be on Christmas. Actually, he’s shuffled far less because we have a set schedule and when that isn’t possible, we accommodate each parent as best we can. I guess you could factor in the fact that Graham was barely 2 when we divorced, so this is all he really has known, but I think it is far more damaging to a child to remove a parent who used to be there every day and place them into a role where they aren’t there ever.

    If you don’t enjoy parenting (which I don’t, and I don’t enjoy it many times more often than I do) too damned bad. That’s part of the deal. You can learn to be a good parent. If your child is on the Spectrum, then it’s your responsibility to try and connect with them the best way you know how…but abandonment is not and should never be an option.

    Hell yes I judge parents who renege on their responsibilities. I’m a moral relativist in most instances, parenting is not one of them and I will not apologize for that.

    It sounds to me like instead of your dad cutting out completely, he should have removed his head from his ass and learned something about his little girl, instead of trying to project his ideas about what she should and should not be onto you, Becky.

    I think it’s great that you’ve come to an outlook that is accommodates your personal feelings, I do not agree that the situation your parents put you in was a good one or that it was the best possible solution. That is, of course, simply my opinion and, as always, you’re free to take it or leave.

    I always enjoy your input and insight, even when I don’t agree. 🙂


    December 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

  5. I just read SDL’s blog too…and, of course, have to disagree with him too LOL. He is way too judgmental of people who did not do the exact same thing he did…which is quite fundamentalist of him. He enjoys being a father. Enjoying something is not a choice though, so you cannot condemn people for not enjoying the same things you do. Some people realize that if they were to try to parent their child, when their brain just isn’t wired for that kind of thing, they would just make the child miserable and stressed constantly. There’s plenty of children I know of who are forced to go visit a divorced parent on a weekly basis whom they hate or don’t enjoy being around at all…but the courts get to force them. In this case, they are being forced to “do the right thing”, and on the outside, society sees it as the right thing, but it is not helping the child at all. When you split a child’s life in two, there is going to end up being a favorite place to be just because of the fact that there are differences. I hated not having a dad as a kid…I cried about it a lot. But now that I realize what my dad’s like, and his family, and how he thinks I should have been raised, I thank my lucky stars that he never tried to get custody.


    December 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    • SDL’s blog entry is not saying you have to like being a parent. SDL’s blog entry is saying “you got someone pregnant and had a baby, you now have responsibilities that you may not like, but that’s life…grow up!” Men who walk away from their kids are cowards, and most of them think they are still doing right. (as explained about dad type #2) Men who do the bare minimum for their children and co-partners who go to sleep feeling accomplish and deserve a “dad of the year” mug for Christmas. These men need to realize that before they undo their pants they better be prepared for the consequences that come with it sometimes. You don’t go to the circus if you’re scared of clowns, you don’t jump out of a plane if you’re scared of heights, and you don’t have unprotected sex if you’re not ready to be a parent.


      December 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  6. Personally, I know I would never have been able to handle being passed back and fourth. I am glad my dad never tried to get partial custody. I think it screws with the kid. They have two separate lives and miss out on things because the…y are not at the right parent’s house on the right day. It would have screwed me up big-time. Not to mention that my parents had completely different ideas of how I should turn out. Its bad enough I have to deal with being Aspie and constantly wondering if I’m doing the social dance right…but then to have to remember who requires what of me when I’m in two separate places with two separate sets of rules???? No way. That’s actually partially why I don’t even communicate with my dad anymore. Whenever I was there, he tried to change me…how I talk, my politeness rituals…it was just impossible to try to be who he wanted when it was hard enough to be who my mom wanted.


    December 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

  7. Good for you! Your son will never know how good he’s got it, because he’ll never feel the pulling ache that other kids do when they’re put in the middle of their parents interpersonal issues.

    Happy Holidays!


    December 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

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