Notes From a Divorced Dad

The truth of the matter is there are always two sides to the story. And I get that. The problem comes, however, when either side refuses to admit to the wrongs on their side of the fence. When it comes to divorce; things can be ugly. And when it comes to divorce with children —things get even uglier.  There is a third side on this one. There is his side, her side, but many seem to forget the children’s side of this.

Divorce is a strange but necessary thing. Marriages split. This is a plain and simple fact. The reasons behind the split may differ on a case by case basis. Resentments happen and sometimes the resentments are resolved as time goes by. Other times, the resentment lingers like an old injury that acts up and aches each time the weather gets bad.

I am a divorced Dad.

I have been a divorced Dad for a very long time. This is not an easy process by any means or any stretch. Divorce alone is a tough thing —regardless to whether it was necessary, wanted, or needed on both sides; divorce comes with a perception of failure. And this is true in my case.

In the beginning, I believed I was a failure. I thought no one would ever want to be with me because I was “Damaged goods,” so to speak. No, I did not want to be married anymore nor did I like being around the person I was married to. Also, I am a Dad so the issues that would later arise would be inevitable. I knew there would be a time that my daughter would rather be home or be with her friends and her usual circle of influence instead of coming to see me, which, in all honesty and in full disclosure; I contribute many of these ideas to my vulnerable bouts with insecurity. I link this to financial insecurities because I cannot afford the same things my daughter has in her other home. I can’t take her on the same kind of trips. In fact, I cannot even take off a fair amount of time from work to enjoy certain things because I have financial commitments that need financial attention. In other words, I am a working man that needs to work and take all the extra hours my position offers; otherwise, the end of the month is a bitch!

Of course, there are those who will argue none of that matters. But I will counter that with my argument that perception is everything and, when it comes to being a kid, any kid can be distracted by gifts. This has nothing to do with love towards either parent, but to say this doesn’t matter is not altogether accurate.

Children are only young once. I missed a great deal of my daughter’s youth. I was there for some great times but after the divorce, I missed out on the simplest things such as a simple good morning on a daily basis. But I missed out on more than this . . .

Admitting to the wrongs on my side of the fence, there were moments when I should have organized my time differently. This way, she and I could have done more together. There were times when I was self-absorbed and stuck in my own head, thinking about me, and selfishly locked in a thought pattern. Meanwhile, my daughter was with me on a weekend visit. And there I was, tired from a long overtime shift, cranky, frustrated—and again, sticking with honesty, I had resentments towards her co-parenting side because quite simply, financial concerns were not concerns at all.

Yes, there are things which happened that I can say, “Yes, that was wrong.” And yes, there are so many occasions where I could see that I was clearly not regarded and saw a lack of respect towards my side of parenthood. This created a stir of feelings. I allowed my resentments towards the other side to grow so deep that the other co-parenting side was seen as my enemy. Going forward; I fully and wholeheartedly claim responsibility for the inaccurate deceptions of my perception. Whether my suspicions were correct or inaccurate, it would have been better for me if I had focused on one thing and one thing alone—which is the love for my daughter needs to be consistent and persistent.

Therefore, it wouldn’t have mattered if my daughter was taught something I disagreed with (and she was on different occasions) because had I stayed focused on this, my relationship with my child would have been stronger.

Our bond would have been stronger if I had simply placed my attentions where my attentions needed to be. No, the co-parenting aspect was not co-parenting at all in our case. In fairness, it seems more like dictating instead of parenting. But nevertheless, I am writing this to act as a fair assessment of my mistakes. In all honesty, I have made mistakes. As a result of my assumptions and on behalf of my perception; I placed my focus in the wrong direction.

Yes, life and divorce are not fair things. But this was not my child’s fault. No, co-parenting through divorce is not an easy thing. But guess what, this is not my child’s fault either. Therefore, in an effort to maintain my own side of sanity —I choose to look at my wrongs and I choose to look to improve. I need to do this because no child asks to be put in the middle. And I can see where I did this. Even if my intentions were right and even if my point was accurate and correct, I needed to change my approach.

Safe to say no one is divorced because they had an excellent marriage. Suffice to say that there are issues; safe to say there is usually a breakdown or problems with communication, and it is also safe to say that no one is ever divorced because they agreed too much on too many different things. No, usually divorce comes because two people cannot live together anymore. It’s just that simple.

And it sucks, right? It sucks being in the same house with someone you just need to get away from. You fight over the stupidest things. By the way, I never knew there was a right or wrong way to place toilet paper on the toilet paper holder. I never knew the sheets of toilet paper had to face a certain way. Hell, I was just always happy to have toilet paper in the bathroom —I was never specifically picky on whether the flap faced down or if the flap rolled up from underneath. Everything becomes an argument. At night in bed, there is a cold section of real estate in the middle of the mattress. And God forbid your leg wanders over because the temperature there is colder than a Siberian winter. Or worse, God forbid my leg accidentally touched hers.

I recall sleeping on the farthest side of the mattress with contempt on my mind and all I could think about is, “Dear God, I just can’t wait until this is over.”

Safe to say the lack of mutual respect created problems . . .

I failed to realize that people are the way they are. If we couldn’t change each other when we were married and on somewhat of better terms—it would be impossible to expect any change once divorce rolls around.

Acceptance is the key here. In my case, I was wrong to not look to find a different way to communicate with my daughter. In my case, I was wrong to discuss certain unnecessary topics regarding our situation. And it didn’t matter if I was right or properly regarded. The truth is I have never been properly regarded or respected but this has nothing to do with my child.

I agree that topics like this are an uphill battle. I agree there are two sides to every story and there are usually wrongs on both sides of the fence, but getting back to my opening statement—the most problems occur when people fail to admit the wrongs on their side of the fence.

As far as I am concerned, the other side of the fence does not matter. As far as I am concerned, it is wrong to use children as pawns and move them around like strategic ways to get back at someone. As far as I am concerned, divorce is a necessary thing; however, divorce brings out the child in grownups and it brings out the early grownup in the child.

Yes, I have a need to be heard and validated. I want to be respected and I want to be regarded. And yes, when I saw this didn’t happen, I spoke openly. When things didn’t improve, I spoke openly again. Then it happened again and again. See, I forgot the rules of engagement here. I forgot that the other co-parenting side sees things the way they see things. And to them, it doesn’t matter what I see. This is painfully obvious; else my requests would have been met. Consequently, it seemed like I was always lecturing. In my effort to prove my point and be right I forgot the one unmistakable thing: Being right is not always the same thing as being happy.

I write this to you in an effort to help my own soul and see my own faults. But, at the same time, I write this honestly and openly because whomever reads this might be going through a similar situation. There might be someone scrolling through this and thinking, “Yeah, but . . .” and I get that.

I am not claiming to have the right answers. I’m just saying that I wished I would have placed my priorities in different perspectives. I wished I would have addressed fewer unimportant issues or lectured less about things that could have been handled differently. I wish I would have thought less about me and my pride and focused more at the moment at hand.

Most of all, I wish I could turn back time. But of all things I can do, turning back time is not one of them. Therefore, I write this as an honest testament to a co-parenting divorced mom or dad. I write this to urge your focus to be kept in proper perspective because one day, your child will grow and you will see all the things you have missed. Imagine what it would have meant to you to see them.

Getting back to basics, all I can do is be consistent and persistent. I need to place my focus where it needs to be and not be persuaded by obstacles and distractions. It doesn’t matter what goes on in the other home; all that matters is what I do in my home.

I need to be mindful of this.

If you’re divorced or going to be and if you’re a parent and you’re afraid of what comes next—keep this page in mind and think about my mistakes. And most of all don’t make them yourself.

Trust me on this.

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