As a single parent, we juggle a million roles a day. We have no time for ourselves and don’t cater to our needs because our kids are always in need of something like food, clothes, and attention. What a Deadbeat doesn’t understand is that our finances consume our lives. We are constantly reminded that this & that bill is due for payment then on top of that there are the “extras.” You know those “extras” that pop out of nowhere like notices to buy school pictures, unexpected field trip costs, and the co-pay fee for emergency visits that they don’t factor in when calculating their child’s needs. Instead, they focus on the less important stuff like what video game their child doesn’t have for that $300 video game console they bought for feeling guilty for not being an active parent.
I can remember when my daughter’s father and I would argue over her needs. His favorite motto was & is, “I help WHEN I CAN.” This statement fired me up back then and it still does when I hear other parents use it. Like I use to tell him, “Georgia Power, AT&T, Chevron, or Sam’s Club can’t & won’t wait until You Can pay them.” Can you imagine making a payment arrangement with the electric company based on this “When I Can” mentality? They’ll laugh at your request before you know it you’ll be alone in the dark with no food in the refrigerator or gas in your car.
I don’t know how I made it this far without his help even when I needed his assistance the most like now. I have never felt comfortable depending on him for anything or the child support he pays “when he can.” It hurt me to hear that he recently purchased her a video game console instead of anything for school. Since we ended our relationship over four years ago, he still avoids asking me what she needs. Our daughter is ten-years-old and we spoke about him helping with purchasing school supplies or clothes once. It was the first and last conversation I will ever have because he said so eloquently, “Don’t ask me for shit, if my daughter needs something she can ask me.” How can I ever forget that? I can forgive but I will never forget. It doesn’t affect him at all because he continues to buy unnecessary things for her. I’ve accepted him for who he is and it took a long time for me to get to this point.
For so long, I had unrealistic expectations when it came to him being a father. He showed me from the beginning of our relationship the type of father he was going to be with his older child. In fact, he used the same “when I can” excuse with his ex as well. Like so many other single moms in my predicament, I ignored the signs and expected our relationship to be different from any other relationship he had in the past.
Some people can easily tell me to “get over it.” I might be able to “get over it” one day but my pride constantly gets in the way. I know, I know, Dear Reader, it’s not about him or me, it’s about our child. Yeah, I get it. It’s sad to know if we ever have a conversation about money, I will always remember that statement. However, I’m glad I went through the child support system because now I don’t have to hear those excuses anymore. Earlier this year, I referred him to his case worker once I knew our “friendly” conversation was going to turn into his famous “When I Can” speech. At least his case worker gets paid to listen to his excuses and I’m sure he or she has heard them all.
I know that no matter what, our daughter will always be provided for with or without her father’s help. I have to admit that even when he does pay his child support I don’t count on it. It must be a single parent thing to never expect ANYTHING from the non-custodial parent because you don’t want keep your hopes up only being disappointed later on if they don’t make a payment. We always have a backup plan and they don’t even make the plan A to Z cut. It’s like winning a mini lotto unexpectedly or in my case, winning $50 from a scratch-off ticket when a child support payment is received.
For the first time, I wasn’t prepared for my daughter to go back to school. I can only do “what I can” and if it means going back to school shopping a month later than I will do just that. Single parents are unstoppable and resourceful when it comes to providing for their kids.
So the next time you hear, “When I Can,” ask that person, “What Can You Do, now?”
Written by: Max-Laine