One of my nieces recently posted the following on Facebook:
“No more staying up late for me! I used to go to bed around 2 am and be up at 6 am. But since I started working, I can’t seem to make it past 9:30-10 pm, and I am fast asleep! Gosh I am soo worn out!!”
Well, I had a number of reactions to her post. First, I am very proud of her. Recently separated, with five children, from two to sixteen, and an eighteen year old nephew, and her mother living with them, she was forced to go to work. Her mother’s disability, her nephew’s part-time income, and her husband’s refusal to maintain gainful employment, left her no choice.
Second, as an insomniac myself, I appreciate the fact that she can sleep eight hours a night now. As a mother, and now a member of the workforce, she needs that.
It was her last sentence, however, that evoked the strongest reaction in me. I know how hard she has always worked: on her relationship, and keeping her children clean and healthy, fixing meals, doing laundry, cleaning house, caring for livestock, managing a budget, shopping, supervising homework, and all the other myriad of things required of her life as wife and mother. She was not a slacker, by any means. She’s exhausted, and he spends his time fishing—and moaning, to anyone who will listen, how much he misses his children!
This new role, as forced breadwinner, on top of all her responsibilities as mother, daughter, and her role as adoptive parent to her nephew, infuriates me. Not only for my niece, but for so many other mothers out there, who are forced to work outside the home, because their spouse, or at least, the father of their children, refuses to feel, or demonstrate, any sense of obligation to support his children.
It has always bugged me that men use the phrase, “she got herself pregnant.” Aside from being biologically impossible, it signifies to me the general laissez-faire attitude of many men, who feel no real sense of responsibility regarding the children they sire. These men look at paying child support as some kind of dirty obligation, rather than as a sacred and moral responsibility to provide for the welfare and upkeep of their defenseless and guiltless heirs. Children don’t ask to be brought into this world. They are invited in, by the actions, or inaction (in neglecting to use some form of contraception), of their TWO parents.
Yet, when there is a separation of these parents, fathers often adopt a selfish and childish “poor me” attitude, and neglect their children, to spite their spouse. This often leaves a mother and children to fend for themselves, including my niece, a mother with a household of eight mouths to feed.
I applaud real men, who meet their obligations to their children (not just monetary, I might add). And, I also applaud judges, who throw the book at wayward fathers, telling them to “Go get a second job!” if paying their child support obligation is “too much of a burden to afford.”
Real men grow up, and assume responsibility for their children, keeping that separate from their other issues with their spouse, and putting their children’s needs before their own. Period!