Two of the divorce-related terms I hate most is “your day” and “my day.”
Regardless of my marital status, I’m a parent every day.
I may not be the point-woman today. It may not be my turn to cook them dinner or sign their agenda book or answer their endless questions about where babies come from and why people choose to smoke.
When they’re at school I’m not the point-woman either. But no one would suggest that I’m less of a parent because I’m not the one walking them to art class or opening their applesauce container at lunch.
But when you have a high-conflict ex, you are suddenly relegated to the sidelines of your child’s life for the percentage of time that your ex-spouse has custody. You miss out on major milestones, like the first time they ran a race or rode a horse or had a friend sleepover. Being willing to clear your calendar doesn’t necessarily earn you a spot at your kid’s birthday party. Inviting your ex-spouse to every kid-focused activity doesn’t necessarily elicit an invitation in return.
It should. It would if you had a child-focused divorce.
My ex is flawed. As am I. But I do understand that he is the only other person in the world who can hold the prestigious honor of being Sydney and Dylan’s parent. Our relationships with these children are special and should be revered and protected. Regardless of how fantastic our new significant others are or how involved their grandparents are, they can’t fulfill our roles when we’re not there.
We are irreplaceable.
Do I think he loves them in the same way I do? No, he’s a different person and he’s a dad and I’m a mom. But we are both their parents, and right now, we are the most influential people in their lives. For better or worse, we are the ones whom they look to for guidance and love.
My kids know that I’m worthless in their father’s eyes. Dylan has peppered me with the question, “Why does Daddy hate you?” and Sydney has said in matter-of-factly, “Well, he doesn’t like you” numerous times over the past year and a half. I think they struggle to reconcile whether they, as my offspring, have diminished worth. I mean, they are a part of me…doesn’t it make sense that if I’m distasteful, they are too? I see it’s impact on Sydney in particular. Her self-esteem wavers and she navigates her world tentatively.
It must be excruciating to be a child and feel like you should somehow turn off your need to be mothered (or fathered), simply because it’s not “her day” or “his day.” As though parenting is a turn-taking activity, like sharing a Wii remote or waiting for someone to pass the milk.
Can’t the days just be about the children and what they need? How did their day become more about the parents and less about them?
There is never a day when I’m not 100% invested. When I care less. When I don’t want to be bothered. When I’m not willing to “share” them with their father simply because it isn’t the day of the week relegated to him on a divorce agreement.