When I think of Father’s Day, I think of my father and always will. But there is another father who celebrates Father’s Day: someone who really doesn’t like me at all, someone with whom I have had a turbulent relationship-in marriage, in divorce and after divorce, but someone who shares the love I have for two treasured gifts: our children. Yes, that would be my ex-husband, who will celebrate and get recognized for being a dad this weekend.
What will I do? I will spend Father’s day alone. I don’t say that because I want people to feel sorry for me. I actually embrace time alone. I will work a little bit, spend time outside, walking, jogging, sunbathing, run errands, and probably have dinner with all my divorced girlfriends.
But what I want to say to all divorced moms is, just as Mother’s Day was about motherhood, Father’s Day is about being a father, not an ex-husband. So, whatever you feel he did to you, however you feel he wronged you, however awful your current relationship is, however much the site of him pisses you off, take the day of Father’s Day to appreciate him as a father.
Why? Because as much as you resent him, as much as he is constantly a source of anxiety in your life, and as much as he can drive you insane, your children adore him. Do they see his faults? If they are over 10 years old then yes, they most likely do. Do they still adore him? Yes. AND THAT IS A GOOD THING!!!
Children need their fathers (and mothers) regardless of faults and imperfections, and regardless of what happened in your marriage. Why? Because the minute they came into this world, they earned the right to have the love and nurturing that can only come from parents.
The thing is, in most divorce cases, there is a little (or a lot) of resentment and bitterness that is ever present on one or both sides (usually both). Some of you reading this will say, “Speak for yourself. I don’t have any resentment. I’m over my divorce. You’re not, Jackie!” To that I say, “bullshit.” Don’t get me wrong. I think it is wonderful if you can move past the divorce, be civil to your ex, even friendly. Trust me, I’m a huge proponent of a good post-marital relationship. However, let’s be honest. There are underlying causes of constant resentment that stay in a divorced couple’s relationship: child support checks, parenting schedules, a new girlfriend, a new husband, stepchildren, ex-in-laws and of course, resentment from the past.
It is very hard to hide it from the kids. It is very hard to pretend you think the same about your ex as they do. And it is very hard to relinquish control and hand over your kids to your ex for a weekend when you don’t approve of a lot of things he or she might be doing and saying at their home. But, keep trying. Hold your tongue. Be a little fake if you can see it makes your kids more at peace. And make it your mission to separate your ex as what he was as a husband and what he is as a father.
On Father’s Day especially, call for a cease-fire. Let him celebrate how much he loves being a dad, just as you celebrated being a mom last month. Let your kids have a fun day with him playing ball, swimming and grilling, without that sad, worried look on your face when they leave the house—afraid they won’t want to come home, that they will like being at daddy’s house more. Remember that your kids love both you and your ex dearly, and they have this inner-struggle to make sure you both know that. A lot of burden for a young kid to handle, don’t you think?
In closing, remember that even if you feel your ex was a shitty husband, even if he hurt you beyond belief, and even if you can’t even look at him without wishing he would jump into Lake Michigan and swim to Canada, he is the father of your children and they need him. If you don’t think he’s a very good dad, remember that barring mental or physical abuse or the risk of harm to the kids, having dad in their lives is almost always better than having no dad at all. And if you think he’s a really great dad, what’s wrong with putting your personal feelings aside and telling him that on Father’s Day? Nothing.
Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there! I know you work really hard to balance everything out. You’re doing great!
Like this article? Check out my post, “18 Things Women Want To Say To Their Ex-Husbands”