A bittersweet milestone happened in our lives recently. We have fulfilled our child support obligation.
Nineteen long years of contributing to my stepson’s life. Four years of contributing voluntarily and fifteen years of being strong-armed by the State of California’s Child Support Services. Arrears (because they didn’t except proof that he was supporting his son for the first four years), negative credit rating, liens on property, wage garnishment, income tax interception…then there was that time they “mistakenly” took over $1000 from his paycheck but wouldn’t give back (they said they would put a hold on it, just in case he ever got in arrears again). I mean, ugh. You mention the child support office and I would immediately get a knot in my stomach. I never begrudged the money that was owed because I knew it was for Mikey but I really disliked the tactics the child support system used.
We paid a piddly monthly sum, to be sure. You can’t put a sufficient number on what it takes to raise a child. I don’t think it mattered anyhow. Even though we also contributed to school supplies, camp, clothes, vacation, dental and medical insurance, drove to their home every other weekend for over ten years (and they lived 80 miles away) etc. it was never enough.
Either way, there is one thing I am thankful for and that is we’re finally out from under the thumb of the State of California’s Child Support Services. So imagine my surprise when we got this in the mail. Zero due for current support.
I’d hear horror stories about child support ending and how difficult it would be to close your case. I’m still apprehensive, until I receive a letter stating our case is closed. I recently wrote about this topic over at The BabyCenter Blog titled, What happens when child support ends? Knowing that some might misinterpret my relief over child support being over as cause for celebration, I kept it low-key.
Am I relieved? Yes, of course.
Does anyone know all the heartache we’ve gone through ever since Mikey was a little boy? NO, not even close.
The money we paid doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. We had so many hopes and dreams for Mikey and tried so hard to stay in his life. It just sucks all the air out of me when I think of how it’s been these past few years.
To read people’s comments, blasting me for being ignorant, bitter, that we must not have tried hard enough, that we must care about our children together more and shame on me for being a horrible stepmother who views her stepson as a burden–someone even visited this blog and left me a nasty comment (read it here)–well, if you think for one second that it made me feel bad or made me want to go back and defend myself….you are sorely mistaken.
Not a funny haha laugh. More like a dark, bitter haha.
There is no way I could share what the past eighteen years were like. There is also no way I would dignify those comments with a response. Not when I’ve laid out my life on this here blog for the past six years. I’ve shared about this topic–blended family woes–numerous times. I’ve poured out my heart. I’ve even ran the risk that my stepson’s mother could easily find me and this blog and then go insane after reading the things I’ve written about her. I stand by every word I’ve written over the years. Not a day goes by when we don’t think about Mikey or mention him in some way.
|One of the last photos I have of Michael and Mikey together, it was taken at his middle school graduation, 2008.|
Michael and I both know that things will change. Until then, we wait. Mikey will grow up. He’ll become a father himself. Then he’ll understand.