Thursday, January 16, 2014

About fathers

Yesterday I've read an article about having an absent father or simply living without a father who for some reasons decided he wouldn't like to be a father for their already existed kids. The article was about a new play made for a theater in Warsaw, Poland. It was striking because the main character that is a woman who had to grew up without her father was an actress who indeed had grown up without her father. What has really stroke me was that this play's director was a guy who also grew up left by his father but in his adult life he has already made the same mistake and he has hurt his child in the same way. He admitted that they split with his wife and he is supposed to see the kid on the weekends but last month he saw his child only once. He said: I knew I screwed it up. And that's it? This guy even didn't seem to feel really bad and guilty. He just admitted that he is like his own father who didn't teach him how to be a father. Well, OK. Got it, but so what. It is not an excuse for his child. After this article I am thinking about this situation of being a parent after a divorce. Why is it so common that the fathers are absent and not mothers? The most recent Eurostat survey showed that overall in the EU countries there are 3,7 single mothers and only 0,5 single fathers (in Poland even a bigger difference 3,3 single mothers comparing to only 0,3 single fathers). I wonder if any of those fathers thought for just a moment about what would happen to their child if the mother would be as reckless in taking care as they were. The answer is the child would become an orphan, would end up in a foster care or on a street. Right? so, is that what those fathers really wish for their kids? What are the reasons those guys leave their kids? Reasons like 'I am not mature enough' 'I know I screw it all up' 'the life has turned that way' etc. those excuses I would just call 'I don't need you baby, I don't love you baby, I don't care about you baby, you still have a mom baby'. But I still wonder why is it so? Why those guys behave as such bastards? It can not be an inherent trait. It must be cultural and institutional. For example the fact that culturally fathers are not that much involved in raising the baby, staying at home, taking the basic care. Still today I know fathers who wouldn't bother to change a diaper or to put a baby to sleep. If later those same fathers don't sit and play with their kids, don't talk with them, don't know what the kids like or dislike, than after the divorce it is very easy to become a father who buys once a month an expensive toy and later who forgets about those weekends and who apparently has something very important to do on this very weekend when the kid has his first big performance at school or celebrates his 12th birthday or anything else and later they even forget to pay the money for the child leaving the mother with the whole burden of rearing the child. But it doesn't have to turn out like that. I do have a beautiful example of a father who is a father no matter what his relationship status is. They were a nice couple but after few years of marriage it appeared that it is not what they would expected and they decided to split. When he moved out of their apartment it was obvious to him that their child will have his home also in his new place. He has split with his wife and not with his child. So the kid has for that moment two homes, one week with his mom and one week with dad. Normal, right? But that guy was so much involved in his baby from the moment he was born. They shared the responsibilities, he did everything what was needed, he knew his child, he was present not absent. Now they are divorced and now under jurisdiction he and she take care of the kid fifty percent of the time. And this is fair. This is how it always should be. Because why in any different way? Why in most cases the court's decision is to give the right to take care of the children to the mother? In such cases people admit that fathers are worse caregivers. And this is a stigma. This is in our mentality, at least in Poland, but I believe in many more countries too. We don't give them a chance. We assume a mother is always better than a father. We as mothers always know better what to do with our baby and the guys hide in a safe place, later those paths are going more and more apart and finally if the couple decides they have to divorce, the father just goes away because he was already so much away. I would say that men should fight for their right to be fully involved fathers, yes, guys, fight to change diapers, to lullaby to sleep, to shush in the middle of the night, to bring them to a day care, to sit on a floor and play guffy games, to give a medicine or go to a doctor, to - just be present and involved. Than, when a court's decision will come you will have a very strong argument to get the fifty percent of time to spend with your kid and your kid won't lose you. You would appear to everyone as a responsible man who is good enough to be a father. And no one nor you mother-in-law nor your ex-wife would have a reason to argue against you. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year, New York and stuff

Well, well, well, so it was. Our long awaited journey to New York without the kids! our kind of second honey moon trip! sentimental trip to places we once lived. There was lots of excitement and some stress before the trip, cause of course I. Was worrying how the kids will get along with the grandparents (my parents were in charge). And how they will get along with their wild grandchildren and finally how my heart will survive. It ended up very well and everyone was happy although some were quite exhausted and happy to go back to their old routines. But anyway, New York. It's funny how the perspective has changed. Maybe it is living in Helsinki maybe it is also my age and my own attitude but I wouldn't like to live there. It's not a place for me. I remember how I was always amazed by the city. Now I only saw how huge, crowded, dirty, noisy and rusty it was. Inhuman. At least not for a human being like myself. The subway old and dirty, rusty and not suitable for taking a stroller ( no elevators, very often even no escalators only narrow staircase). Of course no cell phone coverage underground. Crowded. Not on time, oh, and no schedule whatsoever. Sudden stops and interruptions. No chance to be on time. Crazy. We decided to go shopping in Soho. We thought it would be quiet, but it was again miles of walking, big crowd and actually not much more to chose and buy than in Helsinki. So, those three days in Big Apple made my feet and my back cry from pain. There was not much time left for just strolling around and sipping your coffee. No, New York style is rush around, buy fast, drink fast on your way, hurry to the subway, sleek in a crowd to get on time, forget fancy shoes, wear your sneakers and run. Actually no wonder that so many New Yorkers run marathons. They do this every day on their way to work. It is running and hurrying what makes this city. Ok, we did have fun. Of course. New Years Eve was perfect. First a jazz concert in this famous Birdland jazz club and after because we still were in 2013 we took a subway and went to the Village. And there we finally had this little time to enjoy walking slowly along those narrow streets with brownstones and trees, chatting and feeling this Woody Allen movie spirit. We stopped by
one nice and cosy bar, we took two glasses of champagne and together with all the other guests and staff we counted down to ... 2014, yeah! We could have stay there and in other bars for the whole night, but suffering from a terrible jetlag I was happy to go home. One day we took a local train to New Brunswick, NJ, town we once lived. We went to Highland Park to see our old house, took a walk to a park where I spent almost every day while our daughter was little. And when I saw that playground I couldn't resist and I felt my eyes wet. The weather was bad, very cold and icy wind so there were no one but us. I walked around, touched every swing and slide and missed our Wanda. Yes, sentimental trip indeed.