Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Sometimes, the only way we can tell how someone else is truly feeling, is to walk in their shoes, and even then, at best, we can only get a part of their story. There have been a number of news stories of late, where frustrated fathers have gone to extremes to express their displeasure with the way that they are treated as a result of separation.

The stress and pressure some of these guys are under, or placed under, must be so overwhelming, that these actions are their pleas for help. I can understand how they get to such a level, as the system is not really designed to help out dads. (That being said, I am unsure how it works for Mums either).

I do know though, that I am not what could be called a deadbeat Dad. I do make my maintenance payments, and lost track of the additional money I handed over, possibly a bit out of guilt for leaving them, but more so because I love my daughter, and don’t want to think of her missing out on things.

In four months, I have managed to be lucky enough to take her out once, and have seen her three times in total.

The time I got to take her out, almost felt like blackmail to see her, but I was missing her terribly. I received a brief text from her, saying she wanted money for a school excursion. No hello, how are you, no friendliness, just a demand for cash. I sent a text back, letting her know that I was well thanks, asked after her, then said of course I would give her some money. How about I pick you up, take you out for a while, then when I drop you home at your mum’s, I will give you some money for your excursion then.

Well this tactic worked, of course it cost me a small fortune, she may well have been primed before we went out to ask for certain things, but she really is a great kid, so I did end up spending way more than I could afford to on her. Plus when I dropped her off, I gave her even more money for the school excursion. A thankyou message would have been nice after all of that, but sadly that never came.

I wasn’t allowed to see her for her 13th bithday, as she was having friends around that night, and was playing netball that morning, so would not have time to see me in the afternoon. I had to see her two weeks before her birthday instead, or not get to see her at all, but the offer was made that I could drop the present off elsewhere, and have it taken out to Shorty. Poor Dad is not allowed out there without me of course, but hell, even when Mum was alive, they had to “book” in advance to come visit.

So Dad and I went out there two weeks early, and took her an xbox 360 kinnect, a swag of games, a haul of Emily the Strange gear, and a pile of cash. We got to spend a few hours there with her, I got the privilege of setting up the Xbox etc, and we saw her play a couple of games on it, all in the presence of her Mum of course.

So that was the last time I saw her, the middle of August, and the last time I have heard from her too. In that time, I have had a birthday, and it was fathers Day, both events passing quietly, with no contact. I have also taken part in a number of events that she knew about, but have had no contact regarding them either. I have sent a number of text messages through to her, asking how she is, how school is, how netball is, and reminding her each time that I love her, none of which have been responded to. I know she is getting them, as I have to pay for her mobile phone account, so I know that it is working!

Early September I went to a financial mediation session with my ex, during which time she got to lay out what she wanted, which of course was everything! Thankfully, the mediator did return her to a somewhat more “reasonable” settlement suggestion, although funnily, after we had loosely agreed on the numbers, ex then asked me to buy her a new car! WTF? I have just basically handed over everything I have worked for, and now you want a car too? Ok, I do consider myself luckier than some guys, as given the amount of equity I had in our house, I may only have to lose about $30k from my super account. Yay! I get to keep my super! Now of course, all i have to do is live long enough to get any benefit from that!

I should explain, that during the entirety of our relationship, she made no financial contributions to our “combined” assets, yet at the end of it, she is somehow due massive amounts of cash or equivalent, in return for doing almost nothing for over 13 years. Despite repeatedly asking her to get even some part time work, she was always to work, or in the case of Shorty’s school where I had secured her the option of working as a SSO, she did not like the people there, so could not possibly work with them!

Now this is not denegrating the role of a mother and a stay at home Mum, but some do actually use it as an excuse to do nothing. Please note, I do say some. I know others who will always be extremely busy whilst being a stay at home Mum. Some however, once they have completed the exhausting task of getting the frozen vegetables out at breakfast time, in readiness for the evening meal, and dropping the child/children at school, retire to the lounge to watch tv, talk on the phone, or battle the evils in WII land. Domestic chores like vacuuming or mopping are things that could not fit into the tight timetable that they have.

Ok, so i may still be holding a little bit of bitterness there!

Just before the settlement session, after repeated demands from ex, I had lodged my tax return, (I think this meant that the ex would get a nice bonus from the tax department for the taxes I paid), I received a letter from Childrens Services, advising that my maintenance payments would go up based on my income statement. I rang them and explained that my income was higher, as I cashed out a significant amount of long service leave to clear some debt that we had accumulated, and that it would not be happening again in the new financial year, nor would I be earning that much.

They were very understanding, and said in that case, if I lodge my tax return early, they will be able to adjust my maintenance payments down again, based on my new income, from the time I lodge my tax return. Hmm, they could not quite grasop the concept of not getting another tax return until next June, which means that I get to pay out an additional thousand dollars, based on money I will not be earning? Ah, lucky me.

So, what exactly is the point of this rant then Smudge? Well, I guess I really wanted to say I can understand why some of these dads do lose it. I might not always agree with how they lose it, and who they involve, but I can understand why, as a last scream in desperation they do these things. They are not dead beat trouble makers, they are loving dads, who are being treated unfairly by both the system, and more often than not, by the ex partner, who does nothing to encourage the child/ren to remain in contact with the separated partner.

I hope that one day I do hear from Shorty again, not just to demand cash this time, but maybe just to say Hi Dad, how you doing, how about we go for a nice ride along the beach, have an ice cream and a few laughs. Until then though, it is comforting to know that I have the love and support of many friends in the community, quite a few of whom are going through similar situations.

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!