This post is going to live up to the blog title – you’ve been warned.
I just used 439 words to say “fuck you”, but in a nice way.
I posted that little status update last night. I vague booked, though I am sure everyone knew I was talking about my ex husband. Many people praised me for being pedantic and asked what I said. I haven’t written about him, in ages, but that’s about to change.
Here’s the backstory:
I asked my ex to pay for Driver’s Ed for our child. I asked him to pay for all of it (rather than the 50% that’s listed in our divorce decree), because I can’t afford it and he’s only once reimbursed me for extra expenses. Also because he terminated his parenting time so I am doing 100% of the parenting, something child support does not reflect. I also asked him to voluntarily increase child support. I didn’t even suggest a number, just something to acknowledge that I’m doing it all.
He told me he’d been out of work since January. He then said the company he worked for lost their insurance and that’s why he got let go (complete bullshit), then said since we are in a mini recession he couldn’t find any work.
He then said if our daughter asked for the money, he’d pay for it.
That’s when I used 439 words to say “fuck you”. I explained that it is not our child’s job to ask him to fulfill his responsibilities. I explained to him that we’re currently experiencing one of the strongest economies ever, that there is a skilled labor shortage and it would be nearly impossible for him to remain without employment. I used big words and proper grammar purposefully, knowing both would piss him off.
I refrained from ending the email with “I hope you had a Happy Father’s Day”, since our child has refused to see him for years. I’m a bitch, but I’m not cruel.
But, I am pissed off.
As many of you know, I am a single parent. I am divorced with two children – one from each of my defunct marriages. I love my kids more than anything in the world and wouldn’t do anything differently because then I wouldn’t have my kids. It worked out the way it was supposed to and I am grateful for that.
That said, my second ex husband is an asshole of such massive proportions it’s not even funny.
I use the term ‘single parent’ even though I am divorced. It simply describes the situation more succinctly. If I were to say ‘divorced parent’ you’d think I had a co-parent in my ex. Someone who happily participated in raising the kids, sharing custody, taking them for weeks at a time in the summer and maybe even half the week during the school year. Certainly every other weekend. You’d be inclined to think I had someone who did half the driving to doctors appointments, and was there if a child got sick and needed to leave school early. If I were to say ‘divorced parent’ you might think I could do more than be a parent – maybe date, explore some outside interests, take up a hobby, learn to paint, or hang out with friends and do adult things.
That’s why I say ‘single parent’, because none of those things listed above are part of my experience.
If you’re another single parent you know. You’ve probably wanted to share this kind of update yourself, but never have the time. When you do find yourself with some unexpected time on your hands you’re too exhausted to string words together. If you’re a divorced parent, you might have an idea what this is like, but push it out of your mind quickly. If you’re a married parent, you’re probably wondering what I did to get myself in this situation.
Because people judge.
Again, if you’re a single parent, you know this. You’ve felt people – usually women – stare at you because your hair is too long, you wear clothing that isn’t appropriate, you’re yelling at your kids, you’re broke, and basically because you’re doing it wrong. You know people talk behind your back, often friends or family members who just for the life of them can’t understand how you keep getting yourself into these messes.
I actually had someone ask me that once. She wondered why these things kept happening to me. I don’t remember what the things were, but likely they revolved around money or the lack of it. This may come as a shock, but when you don’t have money shit snowballs. One small emergency turns into a huge emergency and you don’t have someone else’s paycheck to cover the emergency.
If you’re a single parent you’re ability to earn as much money as a married couple is limited to a few professions that you’re not likely to have because if you could have been a lawyer, doctor, astronaut, or really anyone successful, you wouldn’t have married or gotten involved with the deadbeat douchebag who isn’t co-parenting with you.
Suck it up, Buttercup
I hesitate to write this for many reasons. I know exactly what many who read this will think – I just need to work harder, then I won’t need to count on my ex for financial support.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that too.
I work my ass off. I hustle every day to do the work on my plate and to get more work. I’m grateful that I work for myself – it gives me the flexibility I need to raise my child on my own – but it has its drawbacks. I’m only as good as my next gig. There is no job security and also people are jerks. I got unceremoniously fired right before Thanksgiving from a guy I’d been working for for 6 or 7 years. And that was after repeatedly not paying me when he was supposed to, and yet never once complaining about the work I did. Turns out this sort of thing is pretty common. Still, I need a job that allows me to get up and leave on a moment’s notice to care for my kid because I can’t rely on someone else to step in.
I hesitate to write this because no one wants to hear these kinds of stories. What a whiner I am. I made this bed, now I should just quietly lie in it.
Believe me, if I had 5 minutes to myself I would gladly lie in it.
I hesitate to write this because as a single parent I need help and if I’m too bitchy, angry, snarky or simply running off at the mouth, I (believe) I won’t get what help I need. I probably won’t get it no matter how much I suck it up, but you know you catch more bees with honey than vinegar. Single parents know all about sucking it up and smiling when they really want to just punch someone in the face. By help I mean getting my kid the accommodations in their IEP, getting the bank to reverse an overdraft fee because I overdrafted by $3. If I say what I really think, they won’t do these things for me.
Send Jen in a Vacation
I hesitate to write this because I know that people who struggle make people who don’t uncomfortable. I read a post on Facebook the other day from someone who was stunned that there were actually people who hadn’t been to a Disney park. Stunned! The person wrote that they made the trip numerous times with the family because there was something for everyone. OMFG I haven’t had a vacation since I took the kid to South Dakota and ended up in the ER from a panic attack while setting up a tent that neither one of us wanted to stay in (I paid for cheap motels the rest of the trip, which we cut short, because the thought of all the work of setting up and taking down a tent was too much, though I hadn’t figured that would be the case when I planned the trip. I spent my whole paycheck on the motels, something that was not in the budget, which snowballed for months afterward). I’ve taken working vacations, which aren’t vacations at all. I need a vacation so badly I actually have a category called “Send Jen on a Vacation”.
Of course as a single parent, to go on vacation with the kids is a feat of such extraordinary accomplishment I can’t even imagine how it would happen. Someone would have to watch the kid. If they were stay at our house with the kid they would have to look after the pets. If the child were to stay with someone at their house the pets would have to have a sitter or go to camp – both things I could not afford on top of a vacation that isn’t affordable anyway. If by some miracle all that were to happen I’d still get a hundred phone calls asking where something is or when is such and such appointment. It wouldn’t matter that I was on vacation. I had surgery a few years back, one that required I stay overnight for a night or two. The recovery was painful, and being a single parent I don’t do opioids so very painful. While in the hospital in pain I’m getting all kinds of calls about stuff at the house. A vacation just wouldn’t be relaxing at this stage of the game.
1498 words so far!
I don’t know where this is going or why I wrote it. I guess I needed to get it off my chest. I’m doing my best, it’s not enough, but it’s all I have to give. If you’re a single parent I’m sending virtual hugs to you. We’ll get through this and then probably die. If we don’t the world should watch out because we have some motherfucking skills that the world will finally get to see. I know this because all the single parents I know, the ones in the arena doing all the work, also have some killer passions and are creative as all get out, they just don’t have the time to let that shit shine.
I just did a Google search of ‘successful single parents’ and all I got was a list of celebrities. I then Googled ‘people who found success later in life’, thinking after the kids grow up they’ll have the time to really kick ass in their career. There are few women on that list, and the ones that are didn’t have children. OMG, that’s depressing.
Wouldn’t change a thing
I hesitate to write this because I worry my kids will see it and think I blame them. I don’t. I am so grateful that I get to be their mother. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I shouldn’t have had to do this alone, but I am so blessed that I got to do it for them.
I do not hesitate to write this because I worry my ex will see it. First of all, it has too many words for him to read, many are more than two syllables and he won’t see himself in this even though I have spelled it out. He’ll think I’m talking about my first ex husband. I’m not, I’ve been blessed with at least one decent ex husband who has actually stepped in to help more than he was required to.
Ha! That’s a funny concept – more than required to – My first ex would tell you that anything he did to help me was to help our son. And he would have been right. My second ex doesn’t want to help me because he hates me. Fair enough, I get that. But in his hatred of me, he hurts his child and that is something I will never understand.