When we asked mothers who felt like they were single even though they had partners, we heard back from a 26-year-old woman, Miriam, who has a unique story. Though she and her child’s father are no longer together, she still expected him to be present. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. And now that she’s in a new relationship, she’s not exactly sure about whether she should even ask her current boyfriend to help with her daughter. Read her story below.
I found out I was pregnant in 2014. I was with my daughter’s dad at the time. I’m Muslim so that alone– getting pregnant out of wedlock– didn’t work out too well. So the pressure of all of that and then everything I went through with him while pregnant, it just let me see that he wasn’t the right match for me. So then I left years ago him and started trying to date.
I got in a new relationship this past March. And it’s like I don’t even know how people date with children. I’m like trying to figure out ways as I go, but it’s really causing problems right now with the person that I’m with because he doesn’t have any kids and he doesn’t really know. He doesn’t understand the fact that I have to communicate with her dad even though he’s a deadbeat and doesn’t really do anything. And so to him, it’s like ‘Why do you have to talk to him when he doesn’t do anything?’ And for me, part of it is just me holding onto the hope that he actually will wake up and decide to start being responsible.
He has another daughter that he had when we were together. I didn’t want to get too much into their business–him and the mother of his child– but from what he was saying he was on child support but the mom never let him see her because she supposedly wanted to be with him. But now that I’m on the other side. He’s the one that wants to be with me and he keeps telling me, Oh, if I want him to help with my daughter, I would be back with him, move back in with him and all of that.
MadameNoire: Oh Wow.
Yes. It’s, it’s pretty sad that he feels that way and so strongly feels like that when I left him for a reason.
MN: So what were the things that made you know that the relationship wasn’t going to work?
He works at a body shop and we met because I used to work with him because I went to school for auto body also. So we used to be at the shop sometimes late at night, working. When I got pregnant, he started using that [working late] as an excuse and you know, I was understanding of it because I had been there plenty of times, working late. So I figured that, you know, that’s really what he was out here doing. And then after some time went on, I had his login to his iCloud and I would check his location. He wouldn’t be at the shop. He would be at the strip club or at the bars and out drinking while I’m at home by myself. Just after so many repeated incidents, I realized he wasn’t ready to be a family man. Being Muslim, an African Muslim, at that, I’m dating to be married, eventually.
MN: So when your daughter was born, how were the parenting responsibilities split up?
Honestly, I did everything by myself and I think it kinda was my fault because it was just an instinct thing. I didn’t even really think to really ask him to help much because I was perfectly capable of doing anything that she needed. So I don’t know if that is part of how he grew accustomed to not feeling like he needed to help. And in the middle of the night, most of the time, 97 or 98 percent of the time, I’m the one that woke up with her because I breastfed at first.
MN: Did you guys have a discussion before she was born? Maybe like, ‘Okay, when she comes, I’m going to be doing this, you can do this…’ or did you feel like that was something you would just figure out naturally?
We did have that discussion. I guess I just figured that it was going to just work itself out and especially since he had another child before me. I thought that he was a responsible father and it wouldn’t even be a big deal. That was a big mistake. Right there, just assuming that.
MN: You saw that he was involved with his other child?
I did, but I didn’t. The way that it worked out was that, you know, like most of the time– well pretty much every time– his daughter was over she was with me. I didn’t even really look at it as him not spending time with her, although I used to get on him about like trying to come home a little earlier and this and that and trying to make him understand that she’s here to see you. Although I don’t mind spending time with her, it’s you that she’s here to see. Even to this day, when he comes to get my daughter. He never… Well, he says he has her but then his family says that every time he has her, they’re the ones with her.
MN: So what was his upbringing like? Did he have a father who was involved?
No, he did not. And I think that’s part of why he turned out the way he is. His dad wasn’t in his life at all, so his mom did everything by herself. So for him, it’s normal for women to do stuff all on their own just because his mom did. It’s not that we’re incapable of doing it, but that doesn’t exempt you from doing your part also.
MN: What is his response when you say to him that you would like him to be more involved with your daughter, to see her more?
He’ll say something like, ‘Oh, I know, you know, I’m getting my life in order. I’m getting a few things in order. Ever since you left me, I’ve been trying to get things in order.’ He ruined my credit. I was in the biggest mess when I left him and I didn’t even care. I was so focused on was getting some peace of mind and getting away from him and toxic stuff he had going on. I don’t really understand his excuse because I was in a mess too. I also have to get my life in order and I’m still getting my life in order, but it doesn’t stop me from doing what I need to do.
Then he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. If you could just give me a chance, blah, blah, blah.’ But that’s been out the question. There’s no chance of us getting back together and he would be like, ‘Oh, can I please just take you on a date and I’ll help you pay for her daycare fees? Oh, if you’d let me take you on a date, I’ll do this…
MN: So parenting responsibilities, in his mind, are tied to you guys being in a relationship.
Pretty much, which is really sad.
MN: You said your daughter asks about him?
Oh yes. All the time. And it makes me sad. Out of nowhere she’ll just be in a corner, sad or crying out of her sleep and say stuff like, ‘I miss my Daddy! I want my daddy.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh my God!’
MN: What do you say to her when that happens?
I just tell her that her dad has gone somewhere or he’s working or he’s busy or whatever, just trying to make up whatever comes to mind. Because I know if I call him, he has a billion and a half excuses as to why he can’t get her right then. And I tried to ask him, you know, like if there were any days that you would like to start taking her so I’m not paying for daycare, you know, and that can help me out that way. And he will say, ‘Well I can get her any day. He volunteers for his sisters on his dad’s side to watch them. But I don’t know his dad’s side like that. I don’t want to feel like I’m trying to keep my daughter away but I really don’t know them like that.
MN: Is he contributing financially?
Oh, he’s not in any way, shape or form. Like the only thing he does, sometimes, is get her.
The last time he acted, he acted like he was going to help. He’s like, yeah, ‘I have a few hundred dollars for you. I know you need help. I don’t want you guys out here struggling. Can you do my hair on care? Can I come get my hair braided? And I can bring the money with me. He came to get his hair done. He knew to pay me for his hair before he sat down in the chair after we finished his hair. He’s like, ‘Yeah, I have to go and drop off this car to a customer so they can give me their money and I’m bringing you that money that I said I was going to give to you.’ blah, blah blah. Something told me not to even believe the mess. Long story short, he never came back with no money and my boyfriend was really, really, really mad at me for that. And to me, like I didn’t even look at it as it was my ex’s hair that I was doing because I literally treat him like anyone else that I don’t even know, off the side of the street, with cordial respect. Nothing more, nothing less.
But to my boyfriend, he’s just like, ‘I don’t want you all up in his head. I don’t care if he’s paying. Why are you playing in his hair? Why don’t you discuss him helping?’
I’ve tried the nicest way, the meanest way, all the ways in between to get him to help and I just don’t really know how else to do it. So I talked to one of the barbers at the shop and he gave me the idea to maybe block him and stop letting him see her. Since that’s the only thing I haven’t tried and see if that’s going to force him to go to the court and take a paternity test so that I can then put him on child support.
MN: What do you think about that?
Honestly, I don’t know if it’s gonna work or not, but like he’s been blocked for about a week now. I’m just trying out methods to see if it’s going to work. He’s not responsible enough to really even care because there have been times when I was with him, with his other daughter. He didn’t see her for months and it didn’t even budge him. He complained about it but I think I was just his way of getting pity from people because he did not do anything about it.
MN: So an ideal situation. What would you like to happen with your child’s father?
I would love and would be so grateful if he could take the time out of his week or a month or whatever to spend time with his child. If the responsibility was split 50/50, it would be amazing. But if not, even at least 25 percent, anything that can actually be counted upon because that’s another thing too. He’s not very reliable. So like if I could just rely on him to be responsible and do what he needs to for her, then my life wouldn’t feel like I’m just one person trying to do it all. Then maybe I could even have a cordial, normal relationship with him and even consider him a friend. He’s always like, ‘Oh I want my best friend back. I miss you’ None of that! I have no interest in any of that, especially since he doesn’t care for a responsibility we both brought into this world.
MN: Anything else you want to add?
You know, women, when thinking about dating, it’s important also to really get to know the new partner in that they’re fully aware of what they’re going to be dealing with now that they’re going to be, you know. I feel like that’s another thing, me and my current boyfriend, him not knowing what to expect. I feel like we should have took a little more time getting to know each other before we got official so that he would be fully aware of what type of extra responsibilities and extra drama in my life, being that I’m dealing with this…baby daddy drama.
That’s not something that he’s ever been used to. So that’s another thing that’s kind of hard working with him with that and trying to get him to trust me and to know that I literally have no interest in being back with my ex. And that, you know, I’m perfectly fine with not even trying to communicate with her dad.
It’s not that I would ever think to ask him to help me, but you know, it would be nice to have a man that knows that when you’re dealing with a single mother you might need to help, here and there, maybe.
MN: Help in which ways?
It’s really even hard to even really say just because I don’t even feel right expecting anyone else to help raise my child. But like I don’t know, like just making sure that I don’t need anything.
There are guys out there who know, like when you were dealing with a single mother, she might need a little help with bills or whatever and they just know to offer. But not a lot of guys know that or know how to take being asked for help.
MN: Is he around your same age?
Yeah he’s 25. We went to high school together, but the thing was that I didn’t even realize until after we got together. I’m his first real girlfriend.
MN: Oh, okay.
Lord. Which makes things even harder. Because things that people expect in a relationship or know to just do in a relationship, he doesn’t know those things. So that’s where we’re at with that one. That’s my story.