Blended family woes once again

A bittersweet milestone happened in our lives recently. We have fulfilled our child support obligation.

Exhale.

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.

I laughed.

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.

Blended family woes once again

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Blended family woes once again

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There are 10 comments

  1. MJ

    I enjoy your blogs at baby center but some of the mothers that comment there are like super hard core! sometimes I’m like “you need to calm down sister!” In my opinion, is your blog you can speak your mind!! everyone has a different experience, I do not have step kids and cannot comment or criticize your posts on the subject. Don’t ever apologize for speaking your mind chica!

  2. Chrissy

    Pear, you are amazing. It is so easy for others to make off the cuff comments when they haven’t been in your shoes. Step parenting is hard, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Until you have been there and felt the compete lack of control you have over your own life and the havoc a person (other parent) that doesn’t care about you can cause for you they have no idea how relieving it is to be severed from the other parent.

  3. Pearmama

    Thank you for the kind words, ladies. It’s a relief knowing there are readers out there who don’t want to skin you alive all the time! 🙂

  4. Clytie

    I am constantly amazed at the way people judge other people. Especially online. Especially new parents, and those who have never had children. With very few exceptions I would NEVER presume to know what someone else is going through, and judge them based on MY beliefs and expectations.

    I find it interesting that those who judge other peoples lives (especially child rearing) are usually childless … or I find out years later their kids were in therapy for years … It took a long time for me to realize that critical people have a lot to hide.

    So I do my best to accept others where they are. I’m not perfect, nor is anyone else I know.

    This what I love about you, Pearmama. You aren’t afraid to tell it like it is – good as well as bad. Because we’ve all been there. We just don’t admit it. Shame on anybody who presumes to be better than anybody else. We are all the same in God’s eyes anyway!!!

  5. Katystepmom

    Pear, it’s Katystepmom.

    I support you 100% and am glad that you didn’t take any of those negative comments to heart.

  6. Amanda Bombard

    I totally understand what you’ve been through. I wwatched my mother get raped by the same system. Save for 3 years in highschool, I lived with my mother my whole life. Somehow, they decided on their own that I had lived with my father from birth to age six, and forced my mother to PAY them for those six years- even though my mother was unemployed and on welfare ($600 pmonth) they took her drivers lisence and forced her to pay $500 a month for 11 months!!
    The california child support systemm is a bully system. I’m sure it works for some people- but just like prison- even one innocent person being forced to pay is too many.

  7. Chris

    I understand this article more than I can explain in a short paragraph. My stepson will be 15 next month and he still doesn’t understand how important a relationship with his father is. Though it is not all his fault either. Being conditioned since he was 10 months (the age when they split) that his father was worthless, no good, left them stranded with nothing, doesn’t love him, blah blah blah, you start to believe it. After all, his own mother wouldn’t lie about such things. Mothers don’t lie. His older sister, now 18 and living with us, has come to understand and see that her Daddy didn’t want to leave but to be a better Daddy and the best person for them, he had to, as the emotional abuse and jealousy wore him down. My step daughter now enjoys us and is part of our life and I don’t know where she would be without my husband. See, I love my husband more than anything and one of the main reasons I do is because he is a responsible Dad and has ALWAYS supported his children both financially and emotionally, That makes a good man. Now that we have a baby girl together, my step daughter (who admittedly was jealous when I told her I was pregnant (planned pregnancy ) and didn’t give us the best reaction and was awful for the first 6 months of pregnancy) has been in her life every step of the way and couldn’t imagine life without her but my stepson never comes to our house and doesn’t know his little sister. He doesn’t like our rules (because we have rules and there is none at his mothers house), doesn’t like to talk and wants to be left alone with his computer. He doesn’t care his is missing out on our lives and his little sister growing up. We have been through so much with him. From catching him smoking in his room while I was pregnant, to temper outbursts that have scared me and almost pushed my husband down the stairs and because of that, to therapy. We have tried everything. People don’t really know what it’s like until they are in that situation. And they are the lucky ones. So pay no mind to those people as they they are ignorant (blissfully so, as I would be, to not be in this situation). Someday, as my husband says, someday he will understand. I can’t see that happening. Not that I’m being negative, just that it all seems so far gone. But like you said, someday, when he is a father, maybe then, he will see.

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