It seems when you say the word “deadbeat,” you’re almost always going to be referring to some man. One who abandoned his responsibilities as a father to his kids. He is the one we see on social media. Many times, he isn’t even unkempt or poor or lazy or uneducated. So you wonder, what’s your excuse?
Most deadbeats you see these days, even on Judge Judy’s reruns are ordinary men. They have abandoned their financial, emotional, physical, and even spiritual responsibilities to their children. They have married another woman and fathered other children while still pretending their first set of children do not exist.
But there are deadbeat mothers too.
They are fewer in number, agreed, but they exist.
A week ago, I watched The Strays, a British film on Netflix. Acted by Ashley Madekwe, Bukie Bakrey, and Jorden Myrie and directed by Nathaniel Martello-White. The Strays is about a black woman who is white-skinned and who abandoned her two children born to a black man to live elsewhere and raise another family with a white husband.
Now, in the movie, Cheryl Blake, the character played by Ashley Madekwe, is a deadbeat mum. Ashley Madekwe, by the way, is a quarter pint-Nigerian. Her father is half Swiss and half Nigerian and her mother is white( don’t ask me where I got that from, I’m copying someone). She can pass for white, which is exactly what her character, Cheryl, tried to do in the movie, The Strays.
Before Cheryl abandoned her children, however, she snapped. Here’s a woman who has a job. She is driven, has won the salesperson of the year three consecutive times, meaning she is ambitious and hardworking.
What’s the excuse?
But the system failed her and because of that, she lost her drive.
Cheryl ups and leaves her young children to start another life with another man, a white man, and raises another set of children. Now, Cheryl is a good example of a deadbeat mum!
At this point in the movie, I asked myself, “How does a mother do that?”
Women are thought to have stronger ties with their children. We always claim we carried them for 9 months but it goes beyond that. Add the 25 long years of nursing them from infancy to adulthood; in between, there are years of sweet and painful labour; sleepless nights of watching them when they fall sick, days of counting the hours when they don’t return home on time, months of nail-biting anxiety when life happens to them and weeks we have had to pick them from the dust, clean them up and usher them back into the race called life.
Surely, mothers do an awful lot!
So it’s unthinkable for a mother to leave her offspring and yet we have a growing number of children abandoned by not just their fathers but their mothers as well. Look under the bridges in Lagos and they are there.
Look at the streets of Lagos, Kano, and even Abuja…they are there!
Then we have the almajiris
Of particular note is the almajiris. Let’s be honest with ourselves and not play the ethnic card, most of these children still have both parents living and breathing and yet not taking responsibility for their offspring.
It’s easy to blame the government and we can debate this from now till forever but why have children when you can’t take care of them?
The same irresponsibility is found in parents who send their children off to be house helps; children so young they look like they hadn’t even finished being breastfed before they were tossed off to work as servants in big cities as maids or hawkers or at iya’ alamala joints!
There are also mothers who leave their children to nannies and drivers to party hard, or travel to heaven knows where leaving these children who are are then preyed upon by the domestic staff.
I wont forget the story of a 14year old boy, who lives with his mother but mummy has other businesses occupying her mind especially when she isn’t pointing accusing fingers at her ex. The ex, had left her years before to marry another woman and raise children…yeah deadbeat dad. Well the boy in the middle of these two irresponsible parents got enticed by drug lords to be their mule. At 14 this boy has a rap sheet so long it goes round the world in 80 days! Today the boy is a hardened criminal on the run as I write.
Like the children characters in the movie, The Strays who came on a revenge spree after 16 years of tracking their mother, children abandoned don’t just disappear, they come back with not just chips on their shoulders but hate in their hearts against the parent( s)that abandoned them and may God help the rest of us.
If you want to know what happened to the deadbeat mum in the Strays, go watch it on Netflix!