Aug 262005

No relationship is perfect. Regardless of how blissful things may seem on the surface, every partnership has its share of ups and downs. You show me a couple that never fights, and I”ll show you a couple that has a deep freezer full of chopped up hitchhikers that they thaw out and serve to the family for major holidays.

It’s life. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it isn’t perfect.

My ex and her husband have had their ups and downs. Some of them have been pretty bad. It happens. I know more about them than the average ex-husband might because I am actively involved in their lives. See, when she and I divorced neither one of us wanted to give up custody of our son. So instead of fighting it out in court and letting things get ugly, we sat down together and worked out a joint custody arrangement. A. spends about half the time with me and the other half with her. Neither one of us pays child support. I pay for his insurance, and we alternate declaring him on our taxes every year. If either one of us moves away from the other to the point where this would be an impractical arrangement to keep, the person who moved becomes a secondary custodian and has to pay child support.

It works. Well. A. has two households, and one big family. We all go to baseball games and school plays together. On Halloween we all go trick or treating with my Sister’s family. We alternate Thanksgivings, and on Christmas we switch who has him Christmas Morning and who has him Christmas Eve (I have a party at my place every year, and her family gets together in Dade City. He goes to one of the events then crashes out at the other place). I am not a weekend Dad. I am an active part in my son’s life, not a bystander on the sidelines.

Now what does this have to do with my ex and her husband having problems?

Some of those problems have been financial. Some of them could have been easier to deal with if her family lived here. They do not. They live in Polk County, which is about 2 hours east of here.

Because of this, there are people in her life that have given her a hard time about the arrangement that we have. That have told her it was a mistake. That she should have taken custody of A. That she should have moved back to Polk County.

I cannot even begin to express my anger at this, nor my belief that it is this attitude that fosters an atmosphere where divorced fathers are made to feel as though they are absolutely nothing to their sons but a paycheck.

There are some assholes out there. There are a lot of them. There are a lot of men who don’t give a shit about their kids. You know what, though? There are a lot of us who do, but because the system is so heavily biased against us we are told that it doesn’t matter. Look at my situation. These fucking people would have her take my son from me. Would have it so that I could only see him on the weekends, and that in order to do so I’d have to drive 8 hours in two days. They assume because I’m not paying child support I’m not taking care of A.

I’m the one that should be punished, because I’m only his Father.

Is it really any wonder that, in the face of this kind of attitude, many men simply roll over and disappear? That they just send the checks and try to move on with their lives. That they start looking at their kids as a burden?

Of course, it’s their fault, right?

Well I’m sorry, but you have someone repeatedly throw in your face that you don’t matter and you tell me how long you keep a positive attitude about the situation.

Want an example of this? Her husband has three boys. His ex has custody. He moved, ironically enough, to Polk County with me a long time ago. Before we even met A.’s mother. Due to a lack of transportation that came about shortly after that move and a whole slew of other problems that really don’t need to be brought to light here he didn’t get a chance to see his boys for a very long time.

So their Mother, fine woman that she is, started referring to him as their “Uncle”. And she changed Father’s Day to Family Day.

How about that, huh? Yeah, he really mattered, didn’t he? It wasn’t until the boys started having problems that he was suddenly asked to be part of their lives again. When she couldn’t handle them anymore she made them go live with him. Of course, by that point, what could he do? They were teenagers, and certainly didn’t respect him. They’d been told their whole lives that he was a big loser. Why should they see him any differently now?

You know the real kicker of this? She left me. I don’t mention this to attack her – in fact, right now I’m pretty damned proud of her because she defends our arrangement to these assholes. But the bottom line here is that she left me to be with her current husband. She ended the marriage. I did not. But still, despite all that, I should have lost my right to be with my son.

Unfortunately, I know who the people are who have said this. It’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to keep my opinion of them to myself if I ever happen to cross their paths again.

Her husband understands. Her mother, despite the fact that she would love nothing more than to have her grandson closer to her, understands. To them, and to her, I am thankful. Because if they didn’t, and if she hadn’t been so amiable about the arrangements in the first place, I really wouldn’t fucking matter that much to my son right now. He wouldn’t know me. I’d just be this guy he had to go see every other weekend. I’d probably be really cool, because I never made him do his homework or yelled at him, but would he respect me? Would he admire me? Would he be proud to be my son?

I don’t know. I really don’t think so.

And that, my friends, is a giant fucking load of donkey shit.

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