Father’s Day When You Are Divorced
This coming Sunday will be the third Father's Day since my ex and I decided to divorce. Holidays are often emotionally charged, representing times when one of us has to be without the kids. They are the days that when I go out, I am always seemingly surrounded by intact families.
Throughout the struggles of the divorce process and learning to co-parent across two homes, I have always worked hard to remember one thing: Keep focused on the kids.
It is difficult to do. No matter how “amicable” a divorce, the entire process pits the two of you against each other. Between haggling over finances and custody and trying to imagine every need until your kids are 18, all the hurt and resentment from an unhappy marriage has a way of coming to the surface.
We said cruel things during our divorce; we belittled each other; we minimized each other's efforts in our marriage and in our children’s lives.
Frankly, none of that matters. We do not have to be married anymore, but we do have children together. We need to put aside the failures of our marriage and focus on what is important: Two kids who only need to know that they are loved and safe — and that they can love both of their parents freely.
Because of that, my ex and I have spent time together with our kids on their birthdays and occasionally will take them out together. When we are both at a weekend soccer game or a school function, we sit together. It is difficult sometimes, but on those days, I try to remember how fortunate I am to have a co-parent who works together with me to make these types of events possible.
This week, I will help my kids make Father's Day cards for their dad. I remember how excited I would get to make cards and gifts for my own father when I was little. Abby and Austin are the same way—I would not dream of taking that joy away from them. Every day, they deal with a lot more stress and chaos than most kids their age, shuttling between daycare and two homes by no fault of their own. I will do my part to give them as much normalcy as possible on holidays.
I will help them make the cards and pack them into the suitcase for the weekend. Sunday will be their day. Will I struggle a bit when I see the families out together on Father's Day? Absolutely. I will still smile when my kids walk in the door Sunday night and ask them about their day's adventures.
Have you had to face holidays as a divorced parent? How do you deal?