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I'm Tired of My Ex Always Being "Fun-Dad"

This past Father’s Day, I broke down and lost control of my emotions when I heard of my ex’s most recent “fun” dad gift to our children. Ready for this? — An all expenses paid trip to Europe for all three of our children AND their significant others!!

After 15 plus years of being divorced and tons of self-healing work, the news of his extremely generous, over-the-top, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip actually broke my heart. Now you’re probably wondering why this hurt me so much when, after all, this was a good thing for our children, right? Well, under normal circumstances you would be right. However, the reason the news triggered my emotional meltdown was because this same trip was something that I had always envisioned doing with my children! “This was my dream – not his!!”

Dreaming of this family trip was often the only thing that kept me sane as I struggled financially, year-after-year trying to support myself and our three children as a divorced mom while completely broke, drowning in debt and with no family support.

I often felt sorry for myself and jealous of his position. Why did I always have to be our children’s’ voice of reason, their constant reliable role model, their daily go-to parent for support? Just once, I wanted to know what it felt like to be the “fun” impulsive parent who never had to worry about money. I wanted to be financially free to treat my kids to lavish gifts that would make them happy too! I wanted to experience the joy of witnessing the happiness on their faces when I paid for a trip to Europe for them.

In fact, believing that one day I would be in the position to actually do that helped me overcome the deep-rooted guilt I often felt for my contribution towards my children’s emotional pain as a result of our divorce. Dreaming of this unique family vacation also helped me overcome my pride to endure the humiliation of having to accept government financial assistance in order for us to survive.

Thankfully, those days have long since passed. However, sometimes I still catch myself laughing whenever I hear a young, newly married couple talk about how THEY are both ready to be parents. This is usually about the time when I pull the young bride over and secretly whisper into her ear my pearls of once married, now divorced motherhood wisdom by saying, “Honey, it’s not really important if he is ready to have children. The real question is if YOU are ready to have children?” Because whether you remain married, or become separated or divorced one day, the majority of the “un-fun” parenting responsibility will be yours – not his!”

Of course, I am generalizing as I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there are some dedicated full-time fathers out there as well. However, overall, the majority are not. As experience throughout the ages has shown us, there is a good reason God gave mothers the role of dedicated multi-tasker. Someone has to be the responsible, predictable, full-time parent that must strike the reality balance between their children’s “have to’s” and “want to’s” in order to preserve their emotional stability and well-being.

In fact, the role of “un-fun” mom is an actual privilege – not a curse! And many single/divorced moms will agree that when all is said and done, she wouldn’t switch places with “fun” dad after all. She is actually quite content being the un-fun parent that her children need. In many of today’s divorced families, mothers still remain the key ingredient – the foundational glue – that keeps her children feeling grounded, safe, stable and well-adjusted as a result of her unwavering, predictable, dedication.

When my daughter shared the news with me, she was so excited. Normally, I would have been too. But on that particular day, the mature, reasonable, understanding, passionate and excited mom I am normally, I chose to feel disappointed and sorry for herself instead! To make matters worse, after my initial shock and a trip into victimhood, my tears of sadness turned into anger and resent towards my ex!

Once again, here he was in the financial position to be fun dad as a result of his supportive family, his secure good-paying job, and my own financial ignorance for not taking advantage of my legal entitlement during our divorce settlement. I regrettably only asked for half the money I was legally entitled to for child support and also never asked for spousal support either.

As a result, he financially thrived and I did not! My lack of self-worth denied me of the same financial privileges as him. Therefore, this enabled him to maintain the “fun”, lavish dad role while I continuously played the vulnerable, flat broke, “not so fun” mom instead. So, in truth, the anger I experienced that day was actually directed towards myself for not having a strong enough sense of self-worth in order to nurture and respect my own needs. It really had nothing to do with him at all!

Thankfully, I’ve healed myself of that emotional block and can now genuinely feel gratitude and happiness for my children. All my self-healing after my divorce paid off. Also, my faith in God played a huge role in helping me overcome feelings of depression, negative thoughts, and unhappiness. Faith has a way of helping us remember what’s really important when our emotions get the better of us. Once I gave myself permission to acknowledge the anger that was unconsciously triggered after hearing of the trip, I was able to replace it with authentic happiness rather than jealousy and envy.

The key point to remember when working towards the very best version of yourself is to try and find the lesson behind each challenging experience. Once I addressed my bruised ego, I realized that this trip had absolutely nothing to do with me and the type of mother I am to my children. Nor was it about which parent is better than the other. It was merely an opportunity for me to expand my unconditional love for my children by being genuinely happy for them — even if the opportunity came from “fun” dad and not me!

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