|Mr. telephone man, there's something wrong with my line. |
When I dial my baby's number, I get a click every time.
I started calling my boys every morning and every night, each and every day.
Although it was partially selfish, it was really meant as a way for me to ease their minds.
I made it my mission, through daily phone calls, to ensure that they knew that daddy was still in their lives, that he was never far away, and that he would ALWAYS be there for them.
Although schedules have changed and new hurdles have appeared, there is one thing that has remained constant -- our phone calls.
Over the years I have fought hard to co-parent my children, not just because I love them, but because it is my job, my duty, and my RIGHT as a father. I have tried to remain as flexible as possible when it comes to scheduling, making decisions, and looking out for their well-being.
I have a relative who chastises me when I complain about the boys’ mom, saying that I’m “lucky” to see my children, because she “doesn’t have to allow it.”
God bless that relative. She’s a good person... but she is DEAD WRONG.
I’m dumbfounded that, in this day and age, fathers still take a backseat to mothers. I have spent a lot of time following issues related to father’s rights (one of the best resources is the Good Men Project) and it is amazing how fathers are treated like second-class citizens.
Do you know who I blame for the bad rap that fathers get?
There are so many men out there who spread their seed as if having babies is some measure of manhood... men who do not pay child support, do not know (or care to know) their children, or think its okay to let the mother “deal with parenting,” while they go out and continue this vicious cycle.
Then, there’s the rest of us.
WE are the men that support our children (financially AND emotionally). WE are the men who are involved in our kid's education and extracurricular activities. WE are the men who take our kids on vacation and tuck them in at night, even if it’s only once a week.
WE are fathers.
My divorce was a cold war of sorts and relations have yet to thaw. Throughout the entire process, I really didn’t care about how much I would have to pay in child support or alimony, or who got what. I was more concerned about my rights as a parent, making sure that I had a document that would allow me to play an active role in my kids’ lives.
The paralegal that helped me file for divorce laughed at me when I asked for a “phone visitation” clause in my agreement, but I insisted, having already been denied access to my children once before.
That clause reads as follows:
“The father shall have the right of telephone visitation with the children each morning between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The mother shall have the right to telephone visitation between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. when the children are visiting the father. Both shall encourage telephone contact. The children shall have the right to telephone access to each parent any time.”
I will admit that it is rare that I DON’T get to talk to my kids. The real issue is that I have to FIGHT to talk to them and, to me, that is unacceptable. I have tried to be flexible, even as the rules have changed along the way. Hell, I’ve even taken notes to try and keep up.
- 7 a.m. is too early to call, call them at 8.
- Mondays are particularly difficult, be understanding.
- Do not bother calling the home phone, it is broken. Call their mother’s cell instead.
- Calling or texting “too many times” constitutes harassment.
- Mornings are particularly difficult, be understanding.
- Don’t bother texting, their mother isn’t “attached” to her phone.
- 6 p.m. is usually dinner time, try not to call then.
- 7 p.m. is bedtime. Don’t call after 7.
- The kids usually have something to do on weekend nights, try to call later in the evening.
“You need to get over yourself and start taking into account that the boys life and schedule should not revolve around pacifying dads ridiculous demands.”
So, you’re probably sitting there thinking, “What’s the big fucking deal? There are fathers who are prevented from seeing their children or working two jobs to keep up with a disproportionate child support order and YOU have the NERVE to be annoyed over something as silly as a phone call?”
Yes, I do.
This is about my rights as a father, the respect that I (as a father) deserve, and, most importantly, the respect that MY CHILDREN deserve!
My boys are too young to own their own phones. They are too young to be expected to “remember” to call their dad twice a day. It is their MOTHER’S responsibility.
So, what am I supposed to do? Do I make an issue of this? Do I go to court and complain that my ex-wife is making my life “difficult”?
I guess I AM making it an issue by publishing this piece, but, trust me, there WILL be consequences. I can’t even begin to explain the (mostly anonymous) hateful comments I receive each time I mention my ex wife. Rest assured, I will lose a Facebook friend or two over this. I will be called a liar. I will be called a jerk... and, mark my words, there will be retaliation.
So, do I do remain silent?
Is that what you would suggest if the shoe was on the other foot?
If we were talking about a mother's rights?
How many times do I have to hear that women and mothers deserve respect from their ex-spouses? Of COURSE they deserve respect... but, what about US? What about the MEN? What about the FATHERS?
I haven’t always respected the mother of my children, I am man enough to admit that... but I have done my penance and I have grown. I have detached from the emotions of a failed marriage. I have distanced myself from her.
Look, I don't need my ex wife to like me and I don’t even need her to respect me as a person... but as a father? As a parent?
I deserve the same respect that she is given when I make sure that her child support and alimony checks arrive on time.
I deserve the same respect that she is given when I pick up and drop off the boys at a time and location that is convenient for HER.
I deserve the same respect that she is given when I remind my children that mommy is trying to reach them and they need to call her back... even when they don’t feel like it.
Is that really too much to ask for?