I Wish I Were a Deadbeat Dad


Sometimes I wish I were a deadbeat dad. I’d be accountable only for me and my wants and needs. Sometimes I wish I were more selfish and kept my money in a savings account or just spent it on things I want, like trendy clothes and sneakers or after-work happy hours or expensive dinners or bottles at all night parties on weekends. I would sleep late on Sundays and never get up to cook breakfast, cause I don’t like bacon and eggs anyway. I wish I didn’t have to rush home after work to mundane, routine, often frustrated evenings, checking homework and disciplining a third grader who’s constantly in trouble at school. I would pay child support only when I wanted to or could, cause that wouldn’t be my priority. I wish I didn’t have that extra expense for health coverage. Instead, I would use that money to travel the way I used to. I wish I’d have some sense of spontaneity, so when a friend calls me to hang out, I could say “I’ll be right over” and simple gatherings or even dating wouldn’t become long-planned affairs at the mercy of a baby sitter’s availability. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have a little body dependent on me for his very survival. Life would be much easier.

But those thoughts rarely ever cross my mind, and only last for brief moments when they do. Because the truth is, I’m not a deadbeat dad. I can’t be selfish. My nature simply won’t allow it. Instead, my motherly instincts dictate I wake my son every morning and force him out of bed and hand him his washed and folded clothes, which he always rejects cause suddenly he only wants to wear skinny jeans with his hair jelled and slick. I pack his snacks and bag and drive him to school, kiss him off and wish him a good day, always hoping for the best. I pick him up from school, not knowing whether he was good or not, nor how I’ll respond to his behavioral issues, but I try with all my patience to do the right thing. I cook. I clean. I cry. I do his laundry. I check his homework and help him make sense of the confusing parts. I watch his favorite shows even though they bore me to death. I play his video games and let him win. I take him with me to the gym, where I rush my workouts cause he’s easily bored. I scrub his long hair at night and always tuck him in his clean Downy-fresh bed. I let him creep in bed every night cause he claims he’s having nightmares, and I know it’s just a ploy, but I’m too tired to protest. I squeeze in a few hours of my own sleep only to do this routine all over again the next day.

This is what single parents do. We sacrifice our wants for our child’s needs. And we never get sick. We can’t afford to. Even when we’re not feeling well, our child’s needs are relentless and there’s no safety net for our reprieve. We can’t stay in bed until we feel better. We have no one to say, “Don’t worry honey. Stay in bed. I’ll take our son to school today. I’ll cook and clean tonight. You get some rest.” No. Not us. Our duty runs 24 hours and 7 days. We work no matter how sick we are, because those bills come like constant rolling monthly cycles and we selflessly ensure that we keep a roof above us, food in the fridge, electricity running, the cable on, with Netflix and a cell phone and gas in our insured cars and health insurance and clothes and we still manage to squeeze in some leisure expenses. We can’t let up, cause life doesn’t let up. And we don’t always fulfill our dreams because our dreams usually don’t make room for a child’s needs.

But all of that is OK, because the bond between a single parent and an only-child is unique in its strength and resilience. The only-child recognizes his single parent’s sacrifice and knows he has a rock that hold’s firm in any storm. Their relationship is a universe of love, transcending the good and the bad. Few relationships are more pure or more powerful. So keep holding it down single parent. Hold steady the reins and stay on course. Keep carrying your child on your back, because one day, it’ll be your child’s turn to carry you; and he will. And to all you deadbeats, take notes, cause your life is no longer just your life. You no longer live just for you.


About Wilson Santos

Wilson Santos is a writer, filmmaker, music producer, DJ, spoken word artist, graphic designer, entrepreneur and college professor. And he makes a hell of a Mojito too.

Posted on October 25, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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