TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T ALREADY KNOW

More often than not, there are times when, after reading an
article in the news on some study done, I want to repeatedly bang my head
against the wall. Like this one, for instance:

“Poverty rates for single moms and dads are much higher than
for married families.”

I don’t have a degree in economics, but I could have
conducted that study right in my own living room. It doesn’t take a rocket
scientist to figure out that two incomes are better than one. And even if you happen
to be saddled with an unemployed deadbeat spouse who’s sitting on the couch all
day in their underwear, they’re still a built-in babysitter, thus saving you
hundreds of dollars in monthly childcare.

Here’s the reality for some people (READER BEWARE DISCLAIMER
— I’m about to make one of my sweeping generalizations here, so proceed with
caution):

Couples who are extremely well-off financially find the idea
of divorce distasteful, because they know their standard of living will go
waaaay down. I’ve heard many a man say, “Why should I divorce her? Then she’ll
get half of everything I’ve worked my ass off for.” So they stay together,
albeit miserable, so their kids can have petting zoos at their birthday parties
and run around in Sketchers.

If you’re already a financially-struggling poor couple (as I
was) you try to make it work for the sake of the children, but usually the
alcohol/drug/verbal and physical abuses tend to put a damper on the
relationship. Or else the convicted felonies do. And if you started out poor as
a couple, as a single parent you’re going to wind up a hellava lot poorer.

You can pretty much kiss child support goodbye. Unless the
ex has a well-paying job, you don’t get much from minimum wages. I see one too
many dads who work under the table because they don’t want to have to pay child
support to the ex. I can understand. If I was a dad, and the mother of my child
had given birth by Immaculate Conception, I too, wouldn’t want to pay child
support. I had sex the old-fashioned way, and sperm from the FATHER was
involved.

Here’s what happened when I became single suddenly with a
one-year-old. My tired, in-shock ass had to go out in the world and find a job.
In order for me to do that, I needed to pay for childcare. I didn’t have family
or friends where I could dump my kid off, so I had to pay out-of-pocket. When I
did finally find a job, it was the kind of job where, for me to make any kind
of decent money, I needed to work nights and weekends. (No, it did not involve
taking off my clothes.)

But there are no sitters who work nights and weekends, so I ended up with the crappiest of
shifts and made zero money. Voluntary child support was zilch. My ex had this
delusional notion that the measly pittance he might throw my way would go
toward, I don’t know — acrylic nails, instead of our son?

Yes, the options for jobs are limited when you only have
specific hours you can work, and even when you do find something flexible, if
you’re not on salary, you don’t get paid when you…have to stay home with your
sick child, or leave early to attend a parent-teacher conference. I’ll go to
work with 107-degree fever if it means not getting paid, but schools get real
touchy when you send your sick child in. “Come on, it’s just a little
meningitis…”

Single parents are still the pariahs of society. It doesn’t
seem to matter how much self-sacrificing we do, if we’re not pulling in a
hundred grand a year, our children couldn’t possibly be living the lives they
deserve, right?

“Imagine the shame they’ll feel over not having the latest technology; not knowing how to play a
musical instrument; never vacationing somewhere tropical!”

My family wonders why I would choose to live the
no-frills lifestyle; why I don’t make the long commute in to the city so I can
make a decent living. What they don’t understand is that would be more hours
away from my son, and since I don’t have that “village” raising him, time spent
together is more important to me than anything money can buy.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. 02fan
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 18:39:31

    Your son will be much better off with the quality time you have invested in him versus working/being away and buying material things. You are making the right choice even though it is painful at this time. Hang in there as it will pay off in the long run for him.

    Reply

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