Change of Heart

Although I have a lot to say on the matter, I don’t, as a rule, write about the boys’ father or the lack of relationship there or what transpired between him and me. I stick to the facts, if I feel the need to mention it at all and give the bare minimum of context because I realize that words on the internet can live for a very long time and I don’t ever want to inadvertently write anything that may later haunt my children.

It’s probably best that I didn’t have time to blog when they were babies and toddlers because I don’t think I had the same control over my thoughts and feelings about the situation.

Recently, on my impromptu gratitude list, I noted receiving child support after many years of nothing.

It’s true, I am thankful for the extra money. Every little bit helps and to not have to put anything on my credit card each month and finally be able to pay down the debt that has accumulated over these expensive child-rearing years has eased a great load of pressure off of me.

But I think I am most grateful that something changed in this man’s heart that allowed him to see that it is right to provide for his children, regardless of how he feels about their mother.

Through the years, many people have suggested I get a court order to make him pay child support.

I have one.

When I tell them this, people’s brows furrow and no one can seem to grasp how he was able to carry on for so many years without paying. I used to feel this same way until I learned the hard way, dealing with the Department of Child Support Services in California, where it all began.

I could fill a book with the drama that transpired over the years. Maybe I will someday. But what I learned is that the system is hugely flawed. As one worker told me, “This agency is really set up to enable willing parents to pay. Not to enforce the order on those who don’t want to.”

Well, alrighty then. Don’t get me started on how ridiculous that is. I will have to write another post on how utterly unfair the child support system is.

But the fact is, the woman I cried to all those years ago was right. If a parent wants to skirt the law, they can find ways to get out of paying. It isn’t like Johnny Law finally caught up to  the boys’ father and he had no choice but to pay. He had to make a decision. He had to finally take action. And he did.

I can only hope that his change of heart will extend to the harder stuff of parenting, too. Getting to know the boys. Establishing a relationship with them. Becoming a good influence in their lives.

Part of me feels angry and resentful knowing that he skipped out on some of the hardest parts. Part of me feels sorry for him that he missed some of the most important parts. Part of me is supremely pissed that we had to go through so much during these years and that he could have done things differently from the start and we would all be in a much better place now. Part of me knows that the boys will always remember that I was the one who tucked them in at night and sang to them each morning; I was the one who made the frantic trips to the ER or stayed up while they were sick or scared; I was the one who cheered them on at their games and school events; I was the one. But part of me thinks that the allure of having “DAD” is going to be enough for them to welcome him into their lives with open arms and no questions asked, when and if he makes the decision to be a part of their lives, and that it won’t matter to them that he wasn’t there for all that stuff. And maybe that’s OK. In fact, it sure would be preferable to them being angry or hurt or feeling abandoned and mistrustful.

Part of me is fearful of what lies ahead between the boys and their father. Part of me is just grateful that he seems to be ready to take steps toward a better future for them.

I just need to have faith that this change of heart is purely motivated and permanent. And I need to make sure that my heart stays open for whatever change may come. Cautious. Protective. But open.

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