Mothers and Maintenance …..

The idea of maintenance and how so many moms need to fight for maintenance makes me angry.

Like blood boiling angry.  Like Bobbit Penis Cutting Off angry.

My mother was a single mother for much of the years we grew up.

My parents were {bitterly} separated when I was about 5.

The fight for maintenance/child custody/the fun years lasted well until I was 12 years old, and eventually my parents were divorced.  The maintenance fighting was a constant backdrop theme from Sub A through to when I finished High School.

My father wasn’t a particularly good father when he and my mother were together {actually truth be told he was epic shit  – but let’s leave that for another day}.

On separation he really worked hard on finding the lowest possible level of humanity he could stoop to.  He was a horrendous ex-husband and took crap fatherhood to an untold low.

He refused to pay maintenance.  My mom as permanently at maintenance court trying to force him to pay what the court had decreed he should pay.

The problem is to fight this fight she needed to get time off work.  Sit for hours in the warm and fuzzy place that maintenance court was, and of course pay her lawyer to plead her case.  Money we did not have, to pay for something that by rights we should not be standing arguing about in a court room.

It did not really matter what the court decided was a “fair” amount.c  As my father would either be back in court to spend a few more days explaining why he could not afford to pay the amount, or just not pay. Or lose his job, as then well, he could argue he did not have money to pay maintenance.

My mother  had to spend her time, and money, tracking where he was employed, what he earned, where he lived.  Present all this as evidence to the court, as the court did not have resources to do the leg work.

She would get all this information.  The court would say “Okay, Mr Derek MacLeod you need to pay R75.00 (or what ever pittance it was)” and then Mr MacLeod would change jobs or move and the process would start at square one again (repeat over numerous years).

Maintenance court was a permanent background event whilst I was growing up.

I recall how angry and upset my mother was, and how she would truly be at her wit’s end.

My mom worked every day of her life, and made she always had a job – at times she had two jobs, not so we could live in the lap of luxury, but so we could have shoes on our feet and apricot jam in our jaffles.

Financially we were pretty much on the level of  “poor whites” and lived off her salary.

Three kids + a secretaries salary =not many fun outings, or new shoes.

These were not the golden year of my young days I guarantee you.  Much of my youth we spent going without.  Groceries, bond payment, and petrol pretty much took up most of the money with very little left over for baubles and trinkets.  I never (seldom) had new clothes, and survived on hand me downs.

If it costed money, then we did not get it.

My father was a spiteful man.  I am convinced that part of the reason he would jerk my mother around about maintenance was because he was a spite son-of-a-bitch. Pure and simple.

Why else would a man not provide for his children?

Why else would a man willingly let his children go without whilst he sought to pursue his own hobbies and girlfriends?

I read this post by The Stiletto Mom and it made me angry.

I have been the child that exists through this chaos of maintenance.  I could never understand why a man would consider himself a man and stand in court and explain to a court room why he was not going to support his children.

His children.  Not poor unknown waifs from Ethiopia. His children.  Fruit of his loins.

The ones he held in his hairy paws way back then and promised to protect and love. I totally get that a man can stop loving his girlfriend, wife, the mother of his children – but when is it okay to stop providing for your children?

Maintenance always seems to turn into this anger between the mom and dad.

The mom appears to want too much money, the dad appears to have an issue with the money.

Listen, I totally understand that a man might not trust the ex-woman in his life, but why argue about money for your kids.

There just seems to be this persistent moaning by men about how they can “only afford x maintenance” ….. excellent.  I personally can only afford R2 000.00 on school fees.  Unfortunately school fees are R6 000.00, so you know what happens I suck it up and make a plan.

I realise this is probably not the most eloquently written “bitch and moan about maintenance and the men who refuse to be men and get their shit together” but Hannes over at Stilletto Mom right now embodies everything that makes me angry. {I don’t know Hannes, he may be a super stand up guy — like super man father material …. he just might be ….. I doubt that is what his child(ren) will feel at this moment as mom is wondering if she should rather buy milk or bread, but not both}

Hannes, it is not about what you can afford, it is about what your child needs to survive.

Can’t afford it?  Get a second job, but for shit sake, grow a pair!