I strongly dislike being away from my husband this week, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have a partner that is not just showing up, but is working his butt off to achieve a position where he can support us no matter my health status and how much I am able to make at any given time in the future. He is investing in us and me.
This is such a big deal to me because I’ve been the only or primary breadwinner for my family since I was 17 years old. Both of my children’s fathers were a hot mess and neither contributed financially. For twenty-five years I bore the weight of survival for two other humans on my shoulders (which are literally knotted from the strain), even when I was married for 8 of those years.
My ex-husband spent most of our marriage sitting on our bed and playing video games. He did not work at all for 4.5 of our years together, not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t care enough to carry the weight of survival with me. He didn’t look for work. He didn’t clean house or cook either. And I let him get away with it because I had been so lonely doing it by myself for 10 years. A warm body in the bed and someone to talk to was better than nothing at all. I imagine I was also influenced by the fact that my mom supported my alcoholic stepfather for years, until he was classified disabled and the government supported his addicted existence. I grew up with a man living off of a woman’s labors, or the welfare and child support she received for her children. As much I loved him, I realize now that it’s a terrible thing that he lived off of money meant for us.
Near the end of our marriage, when I told my ex that he did not live up to being a coparent with my children, he argued that he was a good dad because he drove my son 7 miles to school every morning the next town over. In his mind that was his great accomplishment in 8 years of fatherhood, or perhaps it was all he could come up with because he knew he failed us and couldn’t bear the shame of it. Both of my children, who were teens when we separated, chose not to continue a relationship with him. I think that says everything.
Before Eros, my life was a story of men who either abandoned their children or refused to be partners, men who lived off of women’s labor and children’s benefits, or allowed women to carry the weight of a family’s survival by themselves. I once lived in a low income apartment building with 8 units and every one was occupied with single mamas raising their babies alone. I also helped create a home for teen mothers and their babies, every one of whom were abandoned by the baby daddies (and by their own parents).
Sadly, a man who shows up for women and children is a rarity in my world. A man who does everything in his power to be a partner and make a life for his family is a f*cking rock star. The way Eros has adapted to every challenge in our lives, including becoming an involved birth father to a son he never expected or wanted to have, is a miracle and worthy of celebration every single day for the rest of our lives. I adore him and want to shout it from the rooftops.