January 16th marks ten years since my ex and I split up. Ten. Years. One full decade. And we're still fighting over child support. So, my friends, I'm venting. Buckle up.
I find it equal parts frustrating and amusing that so many people who are ordered to pay child support seem to have this idea in their head that their payments are funneled through some greedy baby mama who will make sure her nails are done and that she has top-of-the-line fashion accessories before the last pennies of the payments are trickled down to her wayward and obviously neglected children. Can I tell you the last time I purchased something name brand for myself? Hmmm......let's see.....surely there's something recent....uh....um....yeah. I got nothin'. Whatever extravagance I may have ever purchased in the last 10 years most certainly had nothing to do with my ex husband's child support payments. Yet here I sit, defending myself because someone has it in their head that child support is a hand out, not a means for a NON-CUSTODIAL parent to ensure their child has their needs met in their absence.
Let me break it down for you, real simple-like:
My child spends zero overnights with her bio-dad. She spends 16 hours per month with him. This visitation schedule was awarded by a judge in a court of law. Le Douche had ample opportunity to go to court to contest said judgement, but he didn't show up. Default win. It was either cut back his visitation or continue to explain to my then-4 year old that we were standing on the curb waiting for someone who was most likely not even going to show up. He is more consistent with visitation now, and even asked/received several overnights last year when he finally got a house of his own and quit living in his buddy's shed.
As her Mother, it is my job and my privilege to provide for my child every single necessity and most of her wants. I provide her with a safe and warm home, food, clothing, feminine hygiene products, hair care products, school lunches, musical instruments, art supplies, school registration and various activity fees throughout the year, birthday party and gifts, Christmas gifts, big holiday meals, gas to and from activities/friends houses/etc, and any and all medical expenses she may incur. I miss work when she's sick, I miss work for doctor's appointments, counseling appointments, field trips, school meetings. She is very well cared for and I do these things because I am her Mom and it is not only my responsibility, but my honor to give my child every possible opportunity to thrive in this world. At most, in any given year, I spend approximately 7-10 nights away from her, usually as a result of her having sleepovers with friends. Otherwise, I am caring for her every single day of her life and have done so for nearly 13 years. When she was younger, there was also daycare, preschool tuition, and summer camp tuition. There are still 5+ years where she will be a minor in my care, and even after she's 18, I will continue to provide for her anything she may need because that is what a parent is supposed to do for their children.
So tell me, then, how is it unreasonable that a parent who spends 16 hours a month with their child, who has NEVER missed a day of work to care for her when she's sick, who has NEVER missed any work to drive her to an appointment or an activity, who feeds her 4-5 meals per month, who doesn't pay her cell phone bill (including data overages, of which we've had happen twice), who doesn't throw her a bday party or buy her hardly anything for Christmas, who has never taken her school shopping or packed her lunches, who doesn't provide the roof over her head or the car that drives her around, how is it so fucking unreasonable that he should pay a state-calculated monthly payment toward the support and success of his child?!
For all of you folks who feel that child support is unreasonable, go ahead and do the math on the amount of money it costs to care for a kid. Just the things I listed above are enough to make someone's head spin. Do you think that $412/month is really that much? Go ahead and try to take care of a child with only $412/month. That will barely cover food and school costs, let alone everything else. And heaven forbid there be a friend's birthday party to attend, which means purchasing a gift for said friend. Every month there is some new and unexpected expense to accommodate. Again, I do it b/c that is what you sign up for when you have a child and I do it happily because I love my children and want them to enjoy their lives. HOWEVER, I DID NOT MAKE THESE CHILDREN BY MYSELF. So how is it fair for me to shoulder the load by myself?! How is it so awful that the absentee parent, who because of his limited interaction will forever get the privilege of being the "fun" one, has to pitch in a small portion of his income to support the child he barely sees?!
I'd also like to clear up this strangely held idea that a parent who receives child support should somehow segregate all of the child's expenses so that child support is only paid directly to that child's care and not lumped in with the household/family budget. I'm all ears if anyone wants to explain to me how you withhold purchasing food for a single member of the family and only purchase said items directly from a child support payment. Or how you tell your menstruating child that you can't buy them pads because child support doesn't come for another 3 days. Please enlighten me as to the ways of calculating a single child's living expenses so as to only pay their portion of housing costs directly from a child support payment. Better yet, tell me how I am supposed to NOT pay all of these things when YOU don't make your child support payment!?!
It is not fun to be a baby mama or an ex-wife. It's not fun being the responsible parent in what should be a co-parenting partnership because any time you call the other parent out on their bullshit, you become a target. You rip open wounds and re-bruise egos. You fight and argue and never get anywhere, which, let's face it, is the reason your relationship failed in the first place. You find yourself on the defensive end of a losing battle because no matter how you explain the situation, the other person doesn't see your point of view because they've never had to walk in your shoes. They're not the one consoling a crying child when their parent doesn't show up for a visit and they're not the one who has to worry about how they're going to buy food and keep their power on until the next payday. They're not the one who is there day-in and day-out for their child. Their role is limited, and as much as they refuse to admit it, that is 100% their doing. It was them who made bad choices and skipped out on their kid. It is them who didn't show up to court dates or take the time to discuss anything reasonably in mediation. It is them who would rather run around and talk about how they're being screwed over by a bitchy ex than just stop and see what is truly going on. They are depriving their child of a quality of life. They are depriving their child of having a solid example of both biological parents working on the same team for their greater good. They chose this. Not their child, not their baby mama...them. YOU. YOU CHOSE THIS AND I'M PICKING UP THE PIECES.