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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

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When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

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Monday the 14th

It’s always such a chilly and barren apartment the day after. I typically feel emotionless but somehow can easily brim up if I dwell on them or look at their pictures on the bookshelf. I’m someone who can walk, I can mindlessly stare out the windows, I eventually eat when the pangs are loud or anxious and very curiously, have a compulsion to leave everything in the apartment exactly in the condition it was when my children leave to go back ‘home’ after they’ve spent the weekend with me.

Today is a dreadful hangover of emotions. I’m painfully giddy when I pick them up but lifeless flotsam the moment their car has turned the corner moving away from me.

The three of us had fun this past weekend. The highlights for me were the menu items I chose and made: Cajun turkey/chicken burgers with spiced fries, scrambled egg muffins, chicken curry and I even bought an electric mixer so I could produce a red velvet cake. They loved it all and I loved all the time I had to spend in the kitchen chopping and mixing and baking and cooking for them.

My oldest didn’t come over.

I remember how hard I cried when he was born – the relief that he was healthy. That morning my heart, that now pumped for him, gave me my first out-of-body experience. I recall how he ran to me and held up his hands with tearful eyes when he was hurt and it took my breath away. The only message that I have retained on my cell phone is from him wishing me a Merry Christmas in his still little boy voice from 2007 – the first Christmas I was forced to spend without my children.

He wanted to spend the time with his friends instead.

Because of this new work schedule I have, I am only able to see them every other weekend now. The same schedule used for someone who couldn’t care less. It’s my only time. My only time face to face. My only too-hard hug until they tell me to stop. My only time of sitting on the couch with him, letting him lie down the length of the couch and pulling his feet on to my lap. My attempt at physical closeness.

My oldest didn’t come over.

I smiled and laughed with such sincerity this past weekend for the sake of my other two, that they never suspected my mental and emotional geography had quaked, ruptured and split.

Just another day after they leave Monday morning made all the more hurtful by the presence of a tribute to falling, or staying, in love.

Another reminder to add to the list of everything I don’t have.

I look at what is surrounding me – the unwashed stack of dishes, the wrinkled and crooked couch, the fluffy and clean pillows that were tossed onto the floor, and note that I have preserved the lovely stage of where happiness was just a day ago in order to gaze upon it and imagine that I’m recapturing and reliving the good feelings for another day or two.

I hear and see  joy thriving outside my window.

Just another Monday.

Temp Help

Well, that about says it all.

After the devastation of not being tendered an offer after my second interview last week, I was in an orientation class for three days. It’s an orientation that will only lead to a per diem job and who knows just how many shifts I’ll pick up? It’s not full-time or even part-time, so no benefits and I’m still in the same position.

This morning I received a call to fill in a call out. Temp help. I must take it. I must take anything I can at all.

And so, Christmas looms large. No tree, no presents, no cheer. But my children – they’re so young! How can I decide between presents for them and rent?

God help me.

I dreamed of my ex last night.

I Missed a Family

When I was a kid I used to hear the usual stories from other little kids centered around the scorn they had for someone in their family. “I don’t like my sister”, “My Dad is making me help him” or “My parents are making me go with them to visit my grandmother”. Emphatic declarations common from the mouths of children at one time or another.

I’d smile and nod in agreement just because they were friends and we were all supposed to have these shared experiences that we either loved or hated. But the truth was, even at 9 or 14 or 21, I’d be swearing at them in my mind. They were in the position of always having been surrounded by something that they had never been without and it was imprinted in them just as solidly as their own fingerprints. They never realized how fiercely jealous I was and how bitter I was when I heard them utter those seemingly innocuous statement.

I grew up in a series of foster homes and adoption agencies.

My brothers and sisters and I were separated when we were very young. I was the oldest at 6 or 7, and my four siblings were all younger. From the day we were ‘put out’ as it was called, I didn’t see my sisters again until I was about 18. I lived with my brothers for a while, but we were later separated. The ‘siblings’ I knew were not my own brothers or sisters – and where I grew up, they let me know it. The only contact I ever had with my real family was the occasional Social Worker visit (while wearing my best clothes of course) where they would ask me how I was doing and then they’d tell me that my brothers, sisters and Mother were fine.

Once, in a very great while, I’d be at a playground, and I’d hear a voice shout out my name.

Someone at the playground would get my attention and point to a random car where my name was being called from. I’d come closer and see that it was my Mother. I would be at the sidewalk side of a car door while she sat inside and she’d be in tears, reach out, pat my hair and tell me how much she missed me. I remember that my heart would be running so rapidly that at times I almost felt as if I’d faint. She’d tell me that she would be coming for me soon, very soon, and that she was saving money to get a house so that we would all be together again. I’d stand there, thunderstruck at the visit while she talked and I mainly answered in stunned, nervous mono-syllables. She’d ask me to lean in so she could kiss me, and then she would drive off. Again. A few more years would pass and then it would happen. Again.

Growing up without a family from 6 or 7 until you become an adult made it very difficult, I realize in retrospect, to deeply connect with anyone. When I did connect, it was age appropriate to connect with a friend. Then it would be disconnected when a sudden move to another foster home occurred. A different set of rules, a different set of siblings and another set of friends. And another set of miles from any former ‘family’ stability I knew. More importantly, another step away from what I could remember about my own ‘family’.

Growing up this way forced a hard and frightening reality upon me as a young adult on my own – now that I was older, and had not grown up with my brothers and sisters, I no longer had any family at all! We had become strangers in one another’s company. Years apart had created a hard, crusted distance between us. We became those friends that I had when I was very young, and when we were shown to one another we could barely recall each other. We had no common memories of playing together, no memories of rivalries, no snapshots to show that we share a bond, no pictures of a house we lived in together, no remembrances of holiday gifts given to one another, no family meals together, no shared time together and inevidably, no sentences that would ever start with “Remember the time …..?”

I was never given the chance to engage in a conversation that included “I don’t like my sister”, “My Dad is making me work with him” or “My parents are making me go with them to visit my grandmother”.

And to this moment as I place fingers to keyboard, I miss the family that I never had.

More, after the Break

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