**Father’s Day is a holiday meant to celebrate all the great dads out there. I know that many people have lost their dads and this day is hard for them. I know others, like myself, never knew their fathers growing up and this day either means very little, or it brings heartache at the reminder that you had a parent out there somewhere who didn’t care enough to be a part of your life. Whether it was addiction, mental illness, fighting between your parents, family drama, or any other reason that kept your father out of your life, it still affects you. It still carries an impact and watching all those with good relationships with their fathers can be hurtful. That’s why this day is tough for some.
Great fathers and father figures should be celebrated.
Those men who step up deserve praise and adulation on this day. This post in no way means to take that away from those who deserve it and if you have a great dad in your life, be sure to tell him how much it means to you. Tell him today, and tell him every day. **
Father’s Day is a reminder that just how I never had a dad growing up, now my kids don’t either. It was never supposed to be this way. Who has children with someone knowing you will break up? Likely not very many people. So why do so many of us find ourselves in this situation? There are so many reasons for that, I couldn’t begin to list them all. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. They whys and whats of how our relationship didn’t work out have no bearing on the current predicament.
Our children still deserve a father. Today is just another reminder of how they don’t have one.
Remember, you promised me forever? You promised you’d never leave and that you would always love me and THEM. How quickly that can change when you decide you don’t want to be with me anymore.
I still remember when you begged me to have another child. Hesitant about whether or not I wanted to go through pregnancy again (or labor again AHHH), I eventually relented when I saw how much it meant to you. Had I any idea how I would carry all the burden on my own two weary shoulders, perhaps I would have reconsidered.
But this isn’t about you and me.
No, this is about them.
You told them you would always love them, that you would always be there for them, but where are you now?
It’s easy to say you love them from a distance and I don’t doubt that you do, in some way, in your way. Still, what point is there to love if the person doesn’t feel it? Do they see that you love them? Do you send letters or emails? Do you call? How often do you call? Do you take the time to show you care about their lives?
Who are their friends? What are their hobbies? Do you even know what they are into, aside from asking for a birthday or Christmas gift list? Sending a gift once or twice a year doesn’t make you a father. It doesn’t show you love them.
It’s not enough.
Because you can’t be a dad to them in the way you want, you’d rather not be a dad to them at all. I get it. Really, I totally get it. I’ve seen this before. It just breaks my heart that I now have to see my children go through it.
Every day I have to remind them of their worth. Every day I have to do the work of two people to show them they are loved, they are cared for, they are important… and no matter how hard I work at it, there will always be a part of them that feels unworthy because their father didn’t want to be a part of their lives.
There is a part of them that will always wonder what’s wrong with them.
Why did you leave?
Why do you ignore them?
They will always wonder and I will never have good enough answers for them. The thing is, those kids didn’t have a choice. They didn’t ask to be born. They had no part of the promises we made to one another. Now they are here. They are alive and they need guidance, they need love, they need support, they need stability… they need a chance at a good life.
When is the last time you trimmed tiny little fingernails? When is the last time you washed someone’s hair, careful not to get shampoo or conditioner in their sensitive eyes? When is the last time you woke before the sun came up to get kids to the bus stop in time? When is the last time you were woken in the middle of the night because someone had a nightmare?
You don’t have to drive to the pediatrician for appointments, or wait around when someone is sick. You don’t have to administer medicine, treat fevers, or kiss boo-boos.
In fact, how often did you do those things when we were still together?
Children need support. It’s an obligation you take on willingly when you choose to be a parent.
Don’t even get me started on child support. You see it as optional. You pay what you can when you can and pat yourself on the back for doing a good job. When you “can’t afford it”, you send excuses and apologies, but excuses don’t put food on the table. Apologies don’t cover doctor co-pays, new shoes when they wear holes in the bottoms of them, or school lunch fees. “Sorry”s don’t cover your children’s basic needs.
When we hit hard times after you left and we were homeless, where were you?
When we had to couch surf with family kind enough to open their homes to us, where were you?
When we slept on air mattresses because we couldn’t afford real beds yet, did you sleep well safe in your warm bed?
When our children had to get up an hour earlier and walk a mile and a half to school because the van was broken and I couldn’t afford to fix it, did you help? Did you wake up early? Did you walk with them?
When I worked 18-hour days trying to rebuild the life you had torn apart for our children, who was there to read to them, to tuck them in at night, to help with their homework? It wasn’t you.
I’m aware there are certain things you can’t do because of the distance between us. Maybe if you lived here, you’d do more. I guess we’ll never know, but this means that you could be doing all that you CAN do to help instead.
Let’s be real here; you know you’re not paying support. You know you are not a part of your children’s lives. You can come up with every excuse in the book but none is good enough. If you had to look those kids in the eyes and tell them why they can’t go on a school trip because we don’t have the money, how they can’t join that club because we can’t pay the dues, how they can’t attend this event because Mom has to be somewhere else and there’s no one to drive them…
We can talk about how you’re “doing the best you can” all day long, but the truth is, you’re not.
You’re not doing anything.
In your mind, it’s good enough that you’re “trying”. It’s good enough that you say you care, with no actions to back it up.
Let’s take a look at some facts, however.
The average cost of raising a child these days is $233,610. Now multiply that by 5… Do you want to know what makes up the top two items in that budget? Housing and food. And you think older kids are easier now that they are out of diapers? Transportation, food, health care and clothing costs all rise as children age. Parents of teenagers spend the most on food. The annual average cost to feed a 15-17-year-old came in at $2,790 in 2015.
When we don’t have money for groceries, do you think I just say, “I’m sorry” and send them to bed hungry?
No. I put on my big girl pants and I figure it out!
That is my responsibility as their parent.
There have been times I had to borrow money to feed our children. I am not so proud that I would let them starve to protect my own ego. I work two jobs. Hell, I work three jobs. I do whatever I have to do.
What do you do?
Are you there when someone’s favorite toy breaks and I have to tell them with tear-filled eyes we can’t afford to replace it? What about when they get told they can’t have that school yearbook full of memories, or buy school pictures? There’s only room in the budget for the essentials.
This is no cakewalk, but I make it work. At least, I try to make it work. Sometimes I fall short and a little help from you would make all the difference.
Where is YOUR sacrifice? You can say you love them all day long but it means nothing without action behind it.
If you love them so much, why do you allow them to suffer?
Why aren’t you doing all that you can to ensure they have a good life?
You could be working. Hell, you could be working double shifts. You have no kids to hold you back, no child care to worry about, no school schedules or meetings with teachers, no homework in the evenings… you’re a free man. You can do anything you want. You can go anywhere you want. You are not attached in any way.
You have ZERO responsibility.
I suppose that is the real reason it’s so easy for you to make excuses. You don’t have to look them in the eye when you tell them you don’t have any money for them this month. You don’t have to choose between electricity or water because you can’t afford to pay them both this week. You don’t have to see them try to smile through the disappointment that we’re having mac n cheese for dinner again because it’s cheap…
So, if you’re sad today that you didn’t get to spend Father’s Day with your kids, that you didn’t get the paper craft they made in elementary school, or that someone forgot to wish you well today, don’t think that we’ve forgotten you.
You are ever-present in their daily lives, even without saying a word.
Every struggle, every hard day, every time I have to say “no” when I should be able to say “yes” is a reminder that you’re not here. Every time that I struggle to pay bills and buy groceries is a reminder that you didn’t pay child support.
How could we forget?
And if/when you do pay what you’re supposed to, don’t expect lavish praise for doing what you are morally and legally responsible for doing. Child support is an obligation. It is not a gift. It’s not something you do when you “have a little extra lying around”. It is not something you give while seeking praise. You don’t deserve a reward for good behavior. You are not entitled to a thank you for providing financial assistance required for the basic necessities to raise your child.
We are not responsible for your feelings on this day. We’re far too busy getting on with life without you.