By: Jaymes Ian Woode
Today, I sit and wonder about my five children, 4 boys and 1 girl. It has been two years since I’ve seen them and I can only imagine how much they have grown. Now, as I sit here, I can only close my eyes if I want to see them. My mind isn’t capable of creating what they may look like; I can only remember how they appeared before I said “Goodbye.”
No one has to remind me of the guilt and shame that I feel as a divorced father. No one has to clue me in to my responsibilities of child support. Furthermore, no one needs to jog my memory about what it used to feel like to hold my kids close and watch them grow. It is what I hold onto every day and those thoughts give me just enough strength to carry on.
I am only one dad out of millions that has struggled with fulfilling court orders and obligations just to see my own children. With a continually declining economy, many dads are finding it just as hard to survive and make enough income to offset child support and their cost of living. Many have fallen behind in payments and have been told they cannot see their children until they “catch up” on them, as in my case.
It was never my dream to abandon my kids. God knows how my heart craves to see them and feel their innocent touch of love. When my wife left me five years ago, my life was devastated. It was something I never saw coming as our home was a wonderful place and “our” kids were loved and adored by their parents. To this day, I have struggled every step of the way to get myself in a better position financially so that I could afford child support, bills, and be able to spend time with my children. It is all that I want to do.
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I am not seeking sympathy from anyone. Nobody ever said that life would be fair. What I struggle with most, is wondering how any healthy society could allow children to be torn from their father because of lack of money. Danger was never present in our home and my wife’s desire to leave was something she needed to do for herself. I am a great dad, as long as I am not measured by my income which is sparse. I can’t even afford presents for my kids these last two years as I have roamed the country looking for work that would provide me a better living.
With the ever increasing research showing the effects on children whose father is not present; I am still amazed that changes haven’t been made to right current situations for so many dads. Instead, we are left to be broken-hearted and treated like criminals when we did nothing wrong to begin with. Sure, there are always exceptions but for the majority of fathers, we are wholesome loving people who only wish to have quality time with our own children. There is nothing more encouraging and motivating to dads than to spend time with their kids yet we are constantly threatened by jail time and court fees because we can’t make enough to survive. Many have opted out completely by their own hand, still nothing is done.
So this year, in the country that was built by fathers, may we start making some changes: Changes that are necessary to the overall health of the children who miss their fathers too; Changes that demonstrate that our country is better, healthier, and more caring about its own people; Changes that allow fathers to spend time with their children and continue loving, embracing, praising, encouraging, and supporting them in any and every way possible. The greatest gift a father can have is to spend time with the ones he loves most and love cannot be measured by “catching up” on payments unless the government can assure jobs that pay enough. Please, stop taking time away from the relationships of fathers and their children. One can always pay bills but cannot replace time with their kids that will impact them throughout their lives. Just in case I can’t spend time with my children this year, would you please tell how much I love and adore them and let them know that I am doing everything that I know how so they won’t too many fatherless holidays.