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A Deadbeat Conundrum

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Lindsay and I are both extremely fortunate in being able to be stay at home parents. Technically, I’m not a stay at home parent, but Lindsay is and I’m home an awful lot. Aside from the 2010 RPTE to Thailand/Cambodia, driving out to Nashville and back, Not For Sale’s Montara Circle in San Francisco, and Astami and Chan’s Bali wedding in April, I think I’ve been home everyday with my son. And Lindsay has been with him everyday I have plus the days I was gone. We are so thankful for this.

Last night, I left to go get dinner. Just being gone for 30 minutes, I missed Clive. Like more than just a little bit. It made me think of dads that just up and leave. I don’t ponder this out of judgment (not at all implying that dads who abandon their children are above judgment), but out of genuine curiosity. How in the world do these men do it? How?! How do you choose to be away from your child? How do you just go on living as if you never had a child? As I was driving home, I was genuinely perplexed how this could ever happen. I’m away for 30 minutes and I already can’t wait for the next time I walk around the corner, say something, and just the sound of my voice immediately induces a smile and whiplash-like head turn to see where I am. I have no idea how a man could go on making a new life, missing out on his child’s life, and not be haunted with constant curiosity of what his child is doing right then. I don’t get it.

And then I think of children who get abandoned like that. If I were able to talk to someone who’s dad left them, I would tell them that I now know from experience that it wasn’t them. It was their dad. The problem was with him. It’s such an incredibly unnatural instinct to just leave your child and never look back. Anyone who could do this just isn’t right in the head, the heart, or the soul (or, rather likely, all three).

My brother got Clive a vampire plug. This might be one of my favorite photos of him ever.


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Katie Lewis - Cutest frickin' kid!!!May 26, 2011 - 12:06 am

Jeri - You are a good man, Bobby Earle. My father left my brother and I when we were 2 and 1, respectively. He remarried and had another daughter, whom he raised. My brother and I have only seen him a handful of times throughout our lives, with only 2 of those times being during our childhood and school years. We are perplexed at his actions and really missed out on getting to know our half-sister. We are both in our 40s now, but never let the fact that he was not with us hinder our lives. We had a strong extended family structure, so we never felt like we missed out on anything. Kids need to know they can flourish and grow despite a deadbeat parent. ;) p.s. How cute is Clive with that paci!!May 26, 2011 - 5:30 am

Charlene Kuyrkendall - Sometimes, the fathers don't have a choice, especially if the birth mothers deny the fathers the opportunity to be a part of their child's life . . . Every situation is always different . . . some people could not afford lawyers to fight for a chance to be a part of their kids' lives. Sometimes there are even fathers who are physically present, but emotionally absent . . . bottom line, it's never the kid's fault, and sometimes it's just circumstances beyond fathers' control. who knows why?May 26, 2011 - 11:00 am

Bobby Earle - Charlene, you aren't describing deadbeat dads who choose to never see their kids again. You are describing some of the most victimized people in the world -- dad's who get screwed because the judicial system nearly always sides with the mom. I feel terribly for those men. I'm only referring to the dad's who choose to leave ;)May 26, 2011 - 8:50 pm

Rob Bartlett - Bobby ~ thanks for the great post. I am the father of a 2 1/2 year old boy (Charlie), and a 2 month old daughter (Claire) - who was born two months early [today was her due date]. Looking back it was crazy: I spent a day or two catching up on your old blog posts about Lindsay's pregnancy & Clive's birth ~ then a week or less later I was in the hospital holding a 31 week 3-1/2 lb preemie. I can not even fathom leaving either of my kids. Being gone more than a day or two is really hard (I miss them even more if they're in bed before I get home some nights). Shortly after Claire was born (still in the NICU at the time), I lost my job ~ but thankfully got another right away. One thing that I struggled with most was my new (45+ minute, one-way) daily commute. I felt that I'd lose so much time with my kids that it just tore me up! Thanks to lots of prayer, and some prescription medication - I'm pretty well settled into my new job & routine... and in the end I think I may actually get to see my kids a touch more each day!May 27, 2011 - 1:31 pm

Charlene Kuyrkendall - :) and as a mother to my two little darling girls, I too can't even fathom why anyone would choose to leave their kids. My husband managed to find a way to have time with them via videophone every day while in San Diego on internship the past four months while we all were over here in Arkansas. He said it was the most torturous thing, and he wondered how a lot of people managed without videophone in the old days!!!May 30, 2011 - 9:12 pm

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