There are many things in life which we expect to be hard: math tests. Granite countertops. Lemon drops. Your lovah at "go time".
But then there are things which we expect to be easy, to be natural, and they turn out to be hard: for some women, getting pregnant. Parenting. Getting all the tiny pieces of cork out of your wine when you stupidly break it off in the bottle.
There's one thing, though, that I never thought would be hard. Getting the father of my children to help me take care of them.
Big Daddy, for all of my bitching and moaning, was once a swell guy. Even when he first ditched, he was pretty good about writing checks. All of that changed, of course, when he stopped paying alimony and child support and the shit really started hitting the fan. Since then, I have managed. Barely. I watched as my pretty, shiny credit rating tarnished and then turned to ash. Had to give up the luxuries in life, like getting my hair colored every 6 weeks (God I miss the hand massages at Aveda) and health insurance. Watched as my kids went without a lot of things they used to enjoy, things like summer camp, new clothes for school, orange juice. You know, things that you can afford when life is good.
And for a long time, I've been patient. I've been quiet. I have asked him, on several occasions, to help out a little. Give me a hand with their lunch money, sports fees, new shoes. Sometimes he would do it, more and more often lately, he gives me a brief sob story about how poor he is. So I let it go. I find the money, somehow, and we manage.
But my patience has run out.
I got an email from him last week, saying that he's going on a trip in the near future and won't be able to have the kids on his scheduled weekend and a couple of his weeknights. I won't get into how obscene I think it is that he has the freedom of just shooting out an email to ensure that his parenting runway is cleared for take off. That's a whole 'nother post. This email came after he turned down our 16 year old's request for help with lacrosse camp fees. Turned him down flat, without a modicum of regret or explanation. Just a flat "No." Oh, wait. I forgot. He did add, "You should have a job. If you had a job, paying for this wouldn't be a problem."
I wanted to drive over to his house, sit down with him and ask him if he remembers this same kid laying almost lifeless in the emergency room. This kid who was so depressed that he thought drowning in a bottle of whiskey was a better alternative to life. This kid who now has a passion for a sport, a passion that, in my humble opinion, we had better support and encourage with all of our might and at least a small bit of our means. But I was silent, yet again. And I found the money, and I paid the fee.
July 1st marked a special one year anniversary. July 1st, it was exactly one year ago that the family courts in our fair city deemed him responsible for a rather large amount of past-due child support and alimony. And that amount has been increasing every single day since then. Sometimes I think about what could have been different for the kids and I if Big Daddy had paid even half of the amount he owes. Maybe I wouldn't have lost my house. Maybe I could afford to get the braces for Molly that she needs. Maybe I could get my truck repaired and made safe enough so we could drive to friend's cabins for a little break.
And yes, I know...no matter what he pays (if he ever does), I won't get my house back. My credit rating will be still be barf-worthy and the gods of new cars won't be swooping down into my driveway with a safe, clean new ride. But maybe just once in a while I could say "Yes" to them instead of always having to say "No". Maybe I could go grocery shopping without having to stand there for ten minutes, trying to decide if we really, really need yogurt that week or if maybe we can get away with just 4 gallons of milk instead of the usual 6.
So, yeah, I am done being the silent doormat, letting him walk all over me with his big dumb shoes. Letting his kids go without things that they should, by all rights, be able to have and enjoy. Little things that aren't essential to survival, but sure would make surviving a bit more pleasant. I don't think a man should be able to not contribute, at least financially, to the insanely expensive task of upbringing his four kids. I believe that his first concerns in life should be those four kids and what they need to have in order to become healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults. Not getting his pool repaired or keeping his fridge stocked with beer and wine.
My pro-bono attorney and I had a chat the other day, and we are going to pursue things with a bit more aggressiveness than before. It's time to take off the kid gloves, and put on the big girl panties.
It's time to go medieval on someone's ass. Wish me luck.