This is another one of those uncomfortable things to write about.
I'm a single mother, raising my daughter with no support from her father.
He sees her sporadically, as in, it was two months between the last visit, (and wasn't working) and he can't be bothered to call her in between visits. When he did see her again, for four hours, he fed her, plugged her into a movie with her brothers, and fell asleep on the floor. Which is pretty much what he does every time he sees her/them. I called him today and asked him to take her while i was at work, since she is miserably sick, and I literally could not afford to take more time off work, having missed half the week already due to being sick myself. I got excuses. Which is what I get every time I ask him for help. First he was in Oakland, then, halfway through the day, he was home, but tells me, "I have to take a nap, I need to make dinner later" (for himself). Yeah. I spent the day on and off sobbing at work today.
This is not a post to demonize my ex. However, much like Shadow work, I feel I do a great disservice to allow these things to remain buried in the dark where they fester- my work is in bringing the uncomfortable, the shadow, the unexamined bits to the light, where they can be transmuted.
I have tremendous sympathy for him. So much so, that I am beginning to feel that my sympathy for him has blurred my boundaries a bit. I've always been there when he needs help of any sort. This is not a two way street. I make it as easy as I possibly can for him to see her, spend time with her, talk to her, and I don't ask for child support because I have seen how the constant battle over money causes resentment and sourness between parents who are no longer in partnership. I don't want that. And honestly, the pittance that would come out of his check, and the inconsistency, what with child support for the other three kids already coming out of his check, and bouncing from job to job, is so not even worth having that energetic. And I honestly want him to be able to support himself, so he can see his children regularly.
So here's the uncomfortable bit. There seems to be some sort of agreement, within our society, that spending any amount of time with a parent, no matter the quality or quantity of the time, is more healing/healthy than spending no time at all.
I'm fucking calling bullshit on that. Right. Now.
First of all, when did we, as a society, start rewarding bad parenting? Like, Hi, you totally suck at being any sort of adult presence in your child's life, but we are going to just continue to provide unfettered access to impressionable young psyches because *anything is better than nothing*. Uhhhh. No.
And second of all, What in the Actual Fuck is seeing her father actually teaching her? That she is not worthy of her father being in any way a stable regular presence in her life? That when she does actually see him, she doesn't merit any sort of actual presence or quality time, but, instead, can count on experiencing her brothers treat each other like mean drunk rednecks at a hazing, the entire time they are together, (complete with gay, sexist, and racist slurs of incredible ugliness) with no input from their dad, inappropriate media screen time, and awwww kids, don't forget the conventional food, and high fructose, food dye treats. Awesome. Oh, and let's not overlook the message that you can just fucking pop kids out, you don't actually have to be responsible for parenting them, or contributing to raising them in any way. Yeah. I don't think so.
See, I don't feel I am being a responsible, conscious parent, nor am I parenting with love, or from the heart, when I allow this to continue. I feel like I have a responsibility, to my daughter, to show her a better way. Sure. He's her father. He's the guy that donated his sperm to the cause. He has not earned the title of father. Pretty much every man in our lives is more of a consistent, positive presence and role model in her life than her father. Seriously. Every. Man. Like, the guys at work. The people in my community. My friends. The boys in their early 20s that I used to live with. The awesome gay guy who sells orchids at the farmers market. For real. These people see her, love her, spend more time with her, and are more present, available, and having quality interactions with her on a regular basis than her father does. (Well, Chris, the orchid guy doesn't get to see her as regularly now that we don't work the farmers market, and the boys either, since we moved on, but when they do see her it's a grand reunion) And we have always had a cast of strong women friends who come through and love on her, on us. In this way we are incredibly lucky. I have such enormous gratitude for the people in our lives who offer love and support, in so many ways. It makes my heart blossom and grow. And honestly, there are days when I would just completely fall apart and lose it, and someone shows up, steps in, and offers that loving support. And I feel like the clouds clear and the sunshine gets back into my soul, warming it up again.
Do you know who came through and picked Mari up from work today? My housemate, Scott. The same man I witnessed sobbing last weekend over the unfairness that there are these men, who father children, and are then not regularly part of their lives, or contributing to raising their kids. While he would have loved to have had a child, and it just didn't happen in this lifetime. He's sobbing, and calling them pussies. walks out the door, and comes back in and apologized for calling them pussies, that they don't deserve that title, when there are strong good amazing single mothers like myself raising our children on our own - that using that term for these sad sacks of man flesh denigrates the term "Pussy"- (-that last bit was my words, not his-) He walks out the door again, and then I'm sobbing. Sometimes that's just how we roll, around here.
A Conundrum, yes? How to model healthy boundaries, parenting, and ensure that my child, my woman child, grows up feeling valued, respected, loved, and ::WORTHY:: by every one she chooses to have in her life, but most especially by the men or women she chooses to love, in relationship. How to model this when I feel like her father demonstrates everything I don't want for her. How do I protect her from that? Is it really healthy for her to be around *Any* of that? Or would it be better if I just severed the relationship? Is that more, or less damaging?
I sobbed all the way into work today after getting off the phone with him and his usual litany of excuses. Mari asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was sad because I wished that her dad was more a regular consistent part of her life, and was there to help when we needed him. And that the fact that he isn't makes me really really sad, and feels really unfair to me. But that I love her so much my heart breaks open a little more each day, and that I will always be here, whole heartedly, present, showing up, doing the work, and consistent, no matter what, forever.
And I have to believe that that is enough.