Saturday, April 12, 2014

Erica Morris Tells All

Dealing with divorce isn’t easy. Dealing with children during divorce is hard. Dealing with an ex-husband who doesn’t care about his kids is almost impossible.
How do I know? I lived it. After fifteen years of marriage and two kids, my ex walked out. Left us on our won, almost penniless to deal with life without him. Not only that, he left me to tell the kids. How do you tell an eight and ten year old, their father’s gone and not coming back?
Not that he was a great father to begin with, the kids rarely saw him, but he was their father. I’ll never forget the day he told me he was leaving. It wasn’t working for us, he said. He found someone else. You could have knocked me over with a feather. But I should have known. All the signs were there, working late, lipstick on his collar. How could I have been so stupid to ignore it?
He wanted a quick divorce to marry his pregnant secretary. Can you beat that? He never called our kids, never visited. The worst part, he refused to pay child support. I’d about had enough, but what was I to do? How do you force a man to pay?
I know, I could take him to court, they’d tell him to pay, but how to make him. Worst part, he was a lawyer. They tended to stick together no matter how wrong they were.
So I formed a group with a few friends who’d gone through the same thing. I was shocked to see how many women experienced the same thing. Had the men of this town gone crazy? How does anyone walk away from their kids? How does an self-respecting, responsible man refuse to pay child support?
I didn’t have the answer, but there were a lot of them. Now if we could figure a way to make them pay. Many of these men had disappeared. No one knew if they were alive or dead. Women who supported these men through the hard times were now left to deal with life on their own. I discovered most of these men were controlling. Not only didn’t they allow their wives to work, most of them weren’t allowed out without their kids, except for school functions.
I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I’d demand my ex pay child support. I’d had enough. So, I went to his work and waited for him in the parking garage. We were going to have it out once and for all and I wasn’t leaving without some money.
What happened next tore me apart. Read about my experience in Deadbeat Dads available for 99 cents for a limited time from Amazon.
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“Okay ladies,” I looked at the women gathered around me. Lisa Daly, who encouraged me to start this group, was here and Nicole Brown. Poor thing never went out while she was married. Oh, and Louise Conners, I still couldn’t believe her husband ran off with his receptionist, and now they were going through a nasty divorce. Not sure why that surprised more than the others. It shouldn’t. There was quite a turn out. Half the women I didn’t know.
I brought my attention back to the meeting. “First order of business, a name for our group, any ideas?”
“Deadbeat Dads Anonymous,” someone called out. 
“Wives of Deadbeat Dads,” someone else yelled. “Or Women Against Deadbeat Dads.”
“Better yet, how about Mothers Against Deadbeat Dads.  MADD!” Lisa Daly shouted.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of names. “We’re mad for sure but that sounds too much like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.”
“ADD,” someone else yelled. Against Deadbeat Dads.”
Nicole Brown’s hand went up. “Nicole, what’s your idea?”
“How about Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. W.E.D.D.?” Nicole’s voice barely reached above a whisper.
Poor Nicole. Her ex-husband had knocked her self confidence so low. I was surprised to even see her here.  I met her at a school function. Nicole’s daughter, Cindy, was in the same class as my Josh. I had heard through the grapevine that Bob, Nicole’s ex, had run off with a stripper. Talk about humiliating. I shivered at the thought. 
Suddenly everyone came alive. Shouts of “Hey, that’s great, I like that,” sounded throughout the room. 
“Okay then it sounds unanimous, Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads it is. All in favor raise your hands. W.E.D.D.”  Kind of funny when you thought about it. None of us were wed any more.
Twelve hands went up.  “Motion carried. We are officially Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. Now we need to set up a schedule for our meetings and discuss our agenda.  First, we need to choose a Chairperson.”
Nicole’s hand went up again. “I nominate Erica Morris for chair person.”
“I second that motion.” Lisa Daly raised her hand. “This group was your idea.  I think you should chair it.”
Me as chair person? I wasn’t too crazy about the idea. “Any other nominations?” I hoped someone would raise their hand. No such luck. Heat rushed into my face. I had a feeling it turned as red as my hair, which was pretty red. I wasn’t used to being the center of attention. Never liked it and sure didn’t care for it now.
The room remained quiet.
No other nominees. “Okay then, all in favor, show of hands. Motion carried, I guess I’m the chairperson. Thank you, I’m flattered.” Flattered but a little taken aback. Hopefully, I wouldn’t let anyone down.  “Let’s break for refreshments and we can continue our discussion while we snack.”  I needed a moment to myself.
I never expected the group to name me chairperson. I’d never chaired anything in my life. In fact, the parents group at my children’s school was the only other group I had ever joined.
Johnny didn’t like me to go out and do things. He expected his wife to stay home, and God forbid, I even suggested going out alone while he stayed home with the kids.  Anger flared in me as I recalled how often he came home late.  Working, yeah right, spending time with his playmates was more like it. How could I have been so stupid? I remembered the day he told me he was leaving. Just like that out of the clear blue sky.
“It’s not working for us, Erica,” Johnny said. “I found someone else.”
Oh, he found someone else all right, his young, sexy secretary. You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I should have known. All the signs were there, his late hours and lipstick on his collar. He was comforting the wife of a friend, he lied. I did a slow burn as the memories returned. And then he left, packed his clothes and just walked out without even a goodbye to the kids, left me to deal with them as usual. 
Katie and Josh woke up the next morning expecting to see their father. Not that they saw much of him, but sometimes he ate breakfast with them and made polite conversation. That was nine months ago, and he hadn’t been back since, not even to visit the kids. He wanted a quick no fault divorce so he could marry his pregnant secretary.
I almost refused, but figured why fight it?  The kids and I were better off without him, but how do you explain to an eight and ten year old that their father doesn’t care about them, that he had a new life with a new baby?  It was one thing to forget about me, but not the kids. And I haven’t received even one of the child support payments he agreed to pay in the divorce settlement.
“Erica, hey are you okay?” Lisa’s hand on my shoulder startled me. “You look mad enough to spit nails.  Thinking about Johnny, I bet.”
“Huh, oh yeah sorry, my mind was wandering. Yeah. I was thinking about Johnny. I just can’t believe he doesn’t care about the kids. He’s missed every scheduled visit. He doesn’t return my calls, and of course I can’t get past his secretary, uh wife, at the office or at home.  I could have him arrested, but with his connections he’d get off Scott-free. I know it.”
“Well that’s why we started this group isn’t it? Come on if we all put our heads together we’ll come up with something to make them pay.”
The rest of the meeting involved mostly chit chat about this ex hubby or that one and how rotten they all were. It was small consolation to know others had the same problem.

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