Happy Father’s Day from an Ex-Wife

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I stood in the greeting card aisle at Target for a solid half hour just staring at the words in the husband section of the Father’s Day assortment. I am sure there were quite a few people confused by my glazed over stare or scowl as I read the phrases on these cards. “To my amazing husband on Father’s Day…” “There’s no one I’d rather raise kids with…” “We sure make cute babies…” These cards made me sick to my stomach. And not in a nauseating cuteness type of way. In a my husband is none of these things and I feel like throwing up type of way. I picked up my phone and called a friend, trying to whisper under my breath so I didn’t create a scene, “Where are all of the Father’s Day cards for cheating husbands!!?” After she talked me off the ledge, she simply said, “Move away from the husband cards and simply get one card from your daughter.” And that I did. Who knew greeting cards could be so emotionally draining?

A couple years (and Father’s Days) went by, and I found myself in the same boat. How!? I thought time was supposed to help these things! One of those years I took the more bitter/comical route and got him this mug as a Father’s Day gift. Before you think I am a heartless b-word, he still gets a good laugh over it.

I think the reason this day was always extra hard for me has to do with my love for holidays. I love any excuse to spoil and appreciate someone in my life through a day that celebrates them. As a wife, Father’s Day is up there on the list because it’s celebrating this little life you’ve created and the ways you’ve survived parenthood together. That day is lost in divorce. Well, maybe not completely lost, but different. This brings me to my next point and present day stance on the holiday.

Pardon my french on this one, but, shitty husbands do not always equal shitty fathers. I  know this concept is hard to wrap your mind around especially in the early days of divorce, but it’s the truth. Sure, if your ex-husband left the marriage (as mine did) they’ll forever have that one major life choice that altered their child’s future forever. However, when you’re moving forward in that future, the role of the other co-parent (the ex-wife) should not be one of punishment forever because they left the marriage.

This took me TOO LONG to learn and I still have days where all I want to do is punish the heck outta my ex for what he did to not only me but my daughter’s future. Where is that grace and mercy I preach and desire to live out if I am too busy punishing? If we are talking present day, all I can really ask of my former spouse is that he’s a good father to our daughter. And that he is. My daughter adores her daddy and for good reason. I am so thankful for this. I am thankful he’s not a Disneyland Dad. I am thankful that he helps us financially and in the way we split our time. I am thankful that he disciplines our daughter the way we agreed upon. I am thankful for what he teaches her, that he doesn’t spoil her, and for the love and care he has for her. My point is this, it’s okay to think your ex is a good father. It’s actually more than okay. You can’t stay in the punishing judgment stage forever. If you can find things about your fellow co-parent in a positive light, your child will greatly benefit.

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.

This Father’s Day put your personal feelings aside. If your former spouse is NOT a great father, do what you can to help the day for your children. Don’t jump in with the bashing. Be the adult, and do what you can to help protect your children’s emotions from the turmoil this day may bring. If your former spouse IS a great dad, let him know. There’s nothing wrong with that. Three cheers to ALL the amazing dads out there that love and sacrifice for their kiddos!

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