Guest Post: The Most Important Job

This week’s post comes from a good friend of mine,  and famous Daddy blogger, Doyin at Daddy Doin’ Work. I asked Doyin to share  what being a father means to him and how he feels when he hears about all the terrible deadbeat Dads out there.  In the past two years, I have seen the worst when it comes to Dads.  Doyin, however, is a great example of what a father should look like.  It is refreshing to read the raw emotion that comes through when he writes about his child.  Thank you Doyin for bringing light and hope to fatherhood.  I hope you all enjoy his words as much as I did.

 

The Most Important Job

Rewind to December 2009. I was a happy guy, my wife was 11 weeks pregnant, and I was going to be a dad for the first time. Words couldn’t describe how pumped I was to be a father. In June of 2010 (ironically, the due date was a day before Father’s Day) I was going to meet the baby boy or girl that I was already completely in love with…and then my world came crashing down.

Three days prior to Christmas 2009, my wife and I lost our baby.

I understand that bad things can happen during the first trimester, but that didn’t ease our devastation. I put on a brave face for my wife by saying everything will be OK, and I told my inner circle that we’ll dust ourselves off and try again – but privately I was a mess. I didn’t eat, I lost a lot of weight, and spent a lot of my private moments in tears. I knew I had to move forward, but I didn’t know how. I would hear stories of deadbeat dads, lazy dads, and dads who frankly don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves - and I would become enraged. How the hell could someone father a child and not want to be involved in their lives? I’d give up anything to raise a baby. That’s all I wanted. I’m far from the most religious guy you’ll come across, but I promised God that if we were lucky enough to have a child – I would be the best dad I could be for my baby, if I could just get the chance. All I wanted was a chance.

After what seemed like the longest wait ever, I finally became a father to a beautiful baby girl in January 2011.

When I held my baby for the first time, I felt a rush of emotion that I will never forget for as long as I’m alive. I cried, laughed, and felt as if I could leap tall buildings with a single bound. As I wheeled her bassinet down the empty hospital hallway so she could have her first bath, I whispered to her, “Hi there. I’m not perfect, but I will dedicate my life to ensuring yours is amazing as possible. I love you, kiddo.” She was sleeping peacefully, but I know she heard me.

I don’t take any moment with my daughter for granted, I cherish all of the time I have with her, and I miss her like hell when she’s not with me. Poopy diapers, tantrums, late-night meltdowns, whatever – I don’t really care. I asked for this, I prayed for this, I am built for this.

I call myself a Daddy Doin’ Work not because it’s a catchy little nickname, but because I understand the amount of work it takes to be good, involved father. Gone are the days when a dad can come home from work, kick off his shoes, and yell, “Honey, where’s my dinner??” while he watches ESPN, plays videogames, drinks beer, and ignores his children.

It takes work to support an exhausted wife and girlfriend.

It takes work to change diapers in the middle of the night and comfort a crying infant.

It takes work to always keep promises to our children.

It takes work to be the positive male role model our children need and deserve.

The good news is that plenty of these great men exist today, and they’re constantly Doin’ Work to ensure their kids have the happiest and most fulfilled lives. To these men, no job is more important than being a good daddy. They are selfless, hardworking, and loving - and they should be the gold standard for whatfatherhood is all about.

So what does being a Daddy Doin’ Work mean to me?

It’s a reminder on that cold rainy night in December 2009 I didn’t think I’d ever be a father.

It’s a reminder that I was supposed to hold my son or daughter in my arms on Father’s Day 2010, but instead I spent time alone in tears clutching the baby’s ultrasound picture. It’s that memory that will ensure I never take a moment with my daughter for granted.

It’s a reminder that I wouldn’t hesitate to kill or be killed if it meant protecting my daughter.

It’s a reminder that unconditional love truly exists.

It’s a reminder that my daughter is the only person who can erase the shittiest of days with a simple smile or hug.

It’s a reminder that money shouldn’t be spent on things (fancy cars, designer clothes, etc.) but on experiences that create lasting memories (weddings, vacations, parties with loved ones, etc.).

It’s a reminder that delivering a healthy baby is truly the universe’s greatest miracle, and one that I will cherish forever.

So in closing, that is what being a Daddy Doin’ Work means to me. I want to give a big shout out to the real men out there who understand that raising children isn’t “women’s work,” the real men who aren’t afraid to hug and kiss their children in public, the real men who cook dinner and clean up the house so their wives/girlfriends can take a much needed break, the real men who bust their asses to provide the best lives for their kids, the real men who take their jobs of being the primary male role-model for their children very seriously, and to the single mothers who step up and play the daddy role as well.

Yes, I call myself a Daddy Doin’ Work, but when you love what you do, is it ever really “work”?

Not in my mind.

 

Doyin Richards writes the blog Daddy Doin’ Work where he writes about the adventures of a first-time father raising his daughter.  You can also follow him on Facebook.  

 

Rest In Peace Shawn Katrina Mason

On March 19, 2003 Shawn Katrina Mason was murdered in her Manassas, VA condominium.  Shawn had been attempting to move on with her life despite the violent relationship she had with her son’s father.  Just days after her murder, Shawn was due in family court to finalize a custody agreement with Lucifer for their young son.  Shawn never made it to court.  Instead, the prime suspect in her murder (Lucifer himself) got custody of their son by default, and began to receive social security death benefits as a result of her murder.  At the time of her death, Shawn’s son was only three and a half years old.   For the past ten years, her murder has gone unsolved and is now what is considered a cold case.  

While many of you know that Shawn’s murder is somewhat connected to my son’s death, what you might not know is how the murder of a woman I have never met has impacted my life.  I never had the chance to meet Shawn, but I do believe that our lives have become somewhat intertwined.  For the first several months that I lived with Luc, he had me thinking that Shawn had left her son by choice.  I imagined that maybe she was a deadbeat mom or possibly had some sort of illness that rendered her hospitalized.  It was the topic nobody in the house ever seemed to want to talk about.

 

Suspicion:

A few months before Prince was born, I began snooping around Luc’s house.  I had a feeling that something wasn’t right when Luc’s story about Shawn went from “she left” to “there was an accident” to “she lived in a bad neighborhood.”  In one of my searches, I found her baby journal tucked away in one of Luc’s closets.  In this journal, she wrote about how excited she was to have her son, and all about her hopes and dreams for him. Almost hauntingly, I felt as if I was reading something that I would have written about my own son.

 

Over the next few months, despite how I felt about Luc and my growning anxiety about the future of our relationship, I worried about Shawn’s son.  What had happened to this woman and why didn’t anyone want to talk about it?  The night I left Luc, I had to make a decision to save Prince, but I knew that in saving Prince I would be leaving Shawn’s son behind.  I felt terrible about this, but I knew that I had no rights to the child as he wasn’t biologically mine.

 

As I walked out the door that night, clinging to Prince tightly in my arms, Luc’s eyes went cold as he said, “If you leave I will kill you just like I killed Shawn and I will end up with Prince anyway.”

 

 

Chilling Discovery:

As the weeks skipped by after I left Luc, I eventually learned what really happened to Shawn.  It wasn’t an accident at all – someone went to her house intending to kill her.  In fact, about six months before Shawn died, Luc had his name changed to his son’s name (making his son a Jr…or maybe making his son a Sr.?) and subsequently claimed that Shawn’s life insurance policy (that had been in her son’s name) was for himself.  For the past ten years, Luc has been actively trying to get his hands on Shawn’s life insurance policy which luckily the state was smart enough to block from him.

Not a day goes by when I don’t realize that it could have been me instead of Shawn.  In fact, I believed it would have been me instead of Prince.  I would have wanted it to be me instead of Prince.  I never imagined that Prince could have been Luc’s next financial target.  Since the day I left Luc in July 2011 and began fighting for my son’s life and my own, I have felt as though history would repeat itself in some way.  Since Shawn, two others associated/related to Luc have died violently and Luc has standed to gain financially from both.  If we are to believe that Luc killed all three of these people (Shawn, Alma Collins (Luc’s mother), and Prince), that qualifies him as a serial killer.  All three motives would have been the same – life insurance proceeds.

 

The Future:

I have said this before, but I believe that Shawn had a hand in my son’s legacy – like maybe she sent Prince to protect her son and to protect others.  I believe Shawn is an angel just like Prince.  Shawn knew that it was likely police would never charge Luc for her murder, and that Luc would continue to terrorize and possibly even kill others.  If I had died at the hands of Luc, and my son had been left behind, I would have sent an angel as well.

 

It’s been ten years since Shawn was murdered, and Luc is finally in prison where he belongs.  It is troubling that it took this long, and it took something this bad happening, before he was locked up.  When Prince was still alive, not a day passed when I didn’t pray police would catch Shawn’s killer and I would receive a call that he was finally in prison.  I knew that if Shawn’s killer were behind bars, we would finally be safe.  That prayer was never answered.  Instead, I received the call I feared the most – that someone else had been killed and this time it was my little boy.  Police told me not to worry, because they would get him this time.  These words brought little to no comfort, because I didn’t  want my son to be their this time.  I wanted the police to protect us before my son got hurt, instead of promise justice after he was already gone.

 

All of Luc’s victims remain on edge awaiting the conviction.  I understand the risk I took coming forward and fighting this monster.  I was chosen to be Prince’s Mama for a reason, however, and I believe its because its not in my nature to just let this one go.  I will hold fast until the bitter end.  If my son had to be the one to bring Luc down, then he better stay down this time…right beside big Bubba where he belongs.

 

Rest in peace Shawn Katrina Mason.

 

 

The Frog Is Still A Frog – Even After The Kiss

Back in the early 1980′s when I was more of a Cappuccino Princess than a Cappuccino Queen, I remember watching fairy tales on VHS tapes (yes, I am that old).  My parents would bring home a new fairy tale on what seemed like a weekly basis.  I would watch stories about pretty Princess’ turning frogs into Prince’s with a kiss, Prince’s bringing back Princess’ from the death curse of an apple, and beastly creatures who were really good on the inside –  if only the right woman came around to turn them into a handsome Prince.

As a parent, you might not think your child really believes this stuff.  I was a believer, and if your child is anything like I was – she believes it too.  I remember being five years old, looking at a frog, and actually wondering if that frog was really a Prince waiting to be kissed.  As I grew older, of course I knew they were all just fairy tales; however, some of the lessons and the hope from those stories still remained.  I believed that there was good in everyone, and was determined to find the good in even the beastly, dirty frog.

 

When I grew up, I found a frog.  He presented himself as charming frog, he tried to clean up well, and even said many of the right things; however, he was still just a frog.  When I started to see poor behavior from the frog, I said to myself, ‘he is really good inside – he must be because everyone is good deep down.’  It took me a little over a year to realize that this frog wasn’t turning into a Prince – this frog would stay a dirty, nasty, and evil little slippery frog…even after I kissed him.

 

 

How Psychopaths Use Fairy Tales:

When I met Luc, he made a point to tell me I was the first person he felt so strongly about that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  When he proposed, he told me it was the first time he had proposed.  I later learned that I was at least the third girl who had been told that same story.  (One of the three of us didn’t survive the relationship)  Why did he tell me that?  He told me that because he wanted me to believe that I was the woman who would turn him from the beast into the “good guy”.

 

About eight months into the relationship, just after I found out I was pregnant with my son, Luc described a scenario where he had treated the woman before me horribly.  After listening to the story, I was scared.  I wondered how this man, whom I had wanted to believe was good deep down, could have treated someone that way.  He tried to explain that it was the woman who was abusive toward him, and that was why he didn’t respect her.  (Of course, always someone else’s fault)  His son was sitting in the back seat of the car during this conversation.  After listening to his father talk about treating this woman poorly, his son said, “would you do the same thing to Hera that you did to her?”  Luc began to yell at his son saying, “How could you say that!?  Of course not!”  His son said that to his father because he had seen it happen over and over again.  He knew it would eventually also happen to me.

 

 

You Had A Child With The Beast – Now What?

I had no delusions that keeping Prince safe would be easy, and I knew raising him to be that good man I knew he could be would be met with challenges (because his father was a beast).  Recently, a mother asked me my advice about how she should handle the fact that her son was being conned by his father.  This is a great question and one I gave a lot of thought to when I was planning for Prince to live a long and happy life.  On one hand, one of the best case scenarios would be for the psychopath to show your child the “good side” and attempt to make him believe he is good (as the alternative is evil abuser).  That being said, every protective mother knows that this facade cannot last.  It is a normal concern to worry about the day when the mask drops and your child is devistated, or worse – injured or killed.

I don’t have all the answers and, sadly, Prince didn’t live long enough for me to have to shield him from the lies of his con man father.  What I believed I would do, however, is never lie to my son.  I would always tell my son the truth even if that meant exposing his father’s lies.  For example, I imagined my son would come home telling me about how his father was going to be opening for a major musician in a concert.  Then, he would likely have asked me if I remembered a time when I saw his father in concert.  At this point, I would say to my son, “I have never seen your father in concert.  To my knowledge, he has never been the opening act for any major artists.  I am not sure why he would tell you that, but if you would like to go see him in concert – I will buy tickets and you can surprise him.”  I would never have made excuses for Luc’s poor behavior and I would never allow Prince to believe something that wasn’t true – especially if he asked for my verification of the truth.

 

 

Lessons for my children:

 

I am not suggesting taking the magic out of childhood.  By all means, I will tell my children about Santa Claus and encourage them to put their teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.  I will, however, make sure my children have the best chance in life, and grow up understanding that not all people are good people and that people don’t just change because you love them  or because you “kiss them”.  We will watch fairy tales together and we will talk about the real lessons in life.  I will tell my daughter to watch how the man (or frog) treats his mother, sisters, and previous girlfriends.  If he is slimy and terrible to those women, he will do the same thing to you.

Prince was only 15 months when he died.  While I did a lot of talking to him, I never got the chance to teach him life’s lessons.  If I had, I would have told him not to be a frog – but to be a true Prince.  I would have explained to him how important it is to just be a good guy – no scamming, conning, or cheating – just a good guy.  If he was a good guy, he would find his princess.

 

The other day I went to see the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful”.  There was a five year old little girl sitting behind me with her mother.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, the bottom line is that Oz is a con man through and through. At a point in the movie, the little girl yelled out, “I told you Mama!  I told you Oz was really a good guy!”  For the little girl, her faith in humanity was restored through another fairy tale.  For Cappuccino Queen, it was another example of a little girl who was being “set up” to believe that one day she would have the power to make a bad man into a good one.

 

It’s Not You – It’s HIM

Let me start out by saying that I am by no means a forensic psychologist with a degree and years of clinical experience with psychopathy.  I am, however, a woman who ran into a really bad dude.  I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that during the year I spent with Luc I did see some odd signs – or red flags.  Sadly, some of the signs I didn’t pick up on, and others I simply ignored in hopes that things would improve and my son’s father would actually be the man I had hoped he was.

Since starting my blog, I have heard from hundreds of other women who have also run  into some really bad dudes.  While these men are different guys, and not all are psychopaths, they are all people each one of these women now wishes she had avoided.  All of them showed signs, and we all ignored these signs until it was too late.  These women are all strong women who have stood up and admitted to having ignored these signs (or completely missed that they were signs at the time), and have shared their stories in an attempt to help other women recognise when its time to RUN.  Ladies, I salute your courage and I congratulate you for leaving no matter how long it took.

If you are reading this blog entry and recognize one of the below red flag situations as similar to something that is currently happening to you in your relationship, please take the advice of many women before you – and run.

 

Compulsive lying:

Red Flag Story:  “One night he received a phone call from his mother.  I was sitting next to him so I heard the entire story.  He said, ‘sorry we couldn’t answer we were just eating dinner.  Yeah, we made mashed potato, baked chicken, and carrots.’ When he hung up, I said ‘why did you tell her that’s what we ate when we had grilled chicken with broccoli cheese rice?’ He then said, ‘What difference does it make?  We ate dinner, we had some kind of chicken.’  The lies continued to get worse.
My thoughts:  People who lie for the sake of lying have problems.  Luc used to lie about things that didn’t even make sense to be lying about.  Psychopaths are convincing liars because they don’t have the conscience that makes non-psychopaths feel guilty about their lies.  While it may seem like the lying is small and “no big deal” as they will claim, the root of the issue is that this person is not trustworthy and is probably also lying about things that are big deals.
Cheater: (and I don’t mean just cheating with another woman)
Red flag story:  “At 35 years old he cheated at carnival games because he ‘wouldn’t feel like a man if he couldn’t win a prize’ for me.  I hated the stupid stuffed bear, but he insisted it was for me.”
My thoughts:  This red flag goes a bit hand in hand with the compulsive liar.  Luc used to cheat at golf every single time he played.  He would brag about fake hole in ones and talk about how great he was at the game.  A cheater translates to someone who cannot lose and needs to always be the best.  Since many psychopaths have deep self esteem issues, they cheat a lot because they cannot stand feeling less than perfect.  Find yourself a good, honest man who isn’t afraid to lose a game.
Blaming other’s for their own problems:
Red flag story:  “He would always insensitively talk about most people-as if he was better than them. Even if Mother Theresa was around-he would say she was something negative. He always blames everyone else. Always. Never takes full responsibiity for his actions.”
My thoughts:  This is a big red flag that a lot of people miss at first.  Typically, this red flag plays out when your partner says or does something terrible to you (i.e. calling you a degrading name or straight punching you in the face) and then turns the situation on you and makes it appear as if you were, in fact, the real problem.  Additionally, if you run into someone who never seems to be able to apologize for their bad behavior and always finds someone else to blame for their “circumstances” – you have run into a bad dude.

Can’t hold a job:  
While several women wrote in about this particular problem, this one is quick to sum up:  If the guy has too many problems that prohibit him from finding work or keeping work (be it sheer laziness or violent tendencies), he is also not likely to be capable of sustaining a romantic relationship either.

Sexual violence/ problems:
Red flag story:  “The neighbor’s boyfriend was caught having sex with her fifteen year old daughter.  The ex tried to convince me that it was consensual, and that I was a sheltered prude who needed to up my awareness and game so that I could agree with him.”
My thoughts:  Luc was famous for using sex to control people.  He would always try to tell me that I was a prude because I wasn’t willing to get into his “fettishes” such as swinging, voyerism, etc.  Don’t ever ever ever let someone make you feel bad about not wanting to enter into some type of sexual situation with them.  If what he is asking you to do doesn’t feel right, that is probably because it is NOT right.  Sexual problems are a big red flag.  I would venture to say that most psychopaths have sexual problems that they call “fettishes”.
Extreme behavior even when there are no other obvious signs: (also known as “raging”)
Red flag story:  “My ex boyfriend burned nearly everything I owned while I was at work.  He never showed any violence before, so I gave him another chance and things went well for another couple of months….until he snapped again and dragged me across the house by my hair, squeezed the breath from my throat as he bashed my head into the wall, and shoved me off the porch.  Sometimes the signs just aren’t there, or they seem so small all the time that you don’t put them together in your head until after something bad happens.”
My thoughts:  I destinctly remember looking into Luc’s eyes and thinking, ‘wow…he looks crazy right now’ while he was in the middle of one of his rages.  Crazy men act crazy when they snap.  While they are mostly on their best behavior, there are moments when they won’t be able to control themselves and they will show you a glimpse of their true self.  When you see that scary look in their eye (or after you have learned that they have burned your stuff), you best leave immediately because it will only get worse.
Attempts to get you away from family and friends:
Red flag story:  “It happened slowly as we moved to an area that was further away from my family (I have a really close family).  He tried to isolate me by taking my car keys and ringing me every five minutes to make sure I was home.  One night, when I didn’t clean the cutlery to his standard, the next thing I knew he had slammed a phone book into me and started punching it (so he didn’t have any bruises).”
My thoughts:  Bad dudes don’t want you to have friends and they want to cut you off from your family.  Why is this?  Because when they start to beat you they don’t want you to think you have anyone to run to.  This might start out subtle, but eventually it will be obvious that they are not interested in fostering a relationship with those you are close to.  He wants to be your best friend, your lover, and your only family – he wants to own you.  Don’t let him – keep your people (friends and family) close.
Finally, by no means is this a comprehensive list of red flags.  This is simply a list of things other women have shared as red flags they wished they had seen and run from.  When you are in a relationship or considering a relationship with a man, consider both their actions and what they are saying to you.  I leave you with one final thought.  If a man says the following statement (or some variation of) run away fast before you end up in family court with him, and find yourself beating your head against a brick wall in anger:
 “I haven’t seen my kids since they were born because their mom(s) is/are crazy and kept me away from them.  But, I mean, my kids are my life.  I raised those kids, I was always there for them…”