Let’s go back to the Sweet Land of Chaos series which began with Sara sharing how catching her husband asleep on the couch mid-afternoon while supposedly watching the children was the last straw for her. Sara was 28 when they divorced just a month shy of their 10-year anniversary. Since then, Sara’s ex has proved to be a better father and while she’s happy about that, she can’t help having mixed emotions. Here’s Sara:
It’s a weird feeling. I told my ex this and he agrees, if we didn’t have kids, we would probably never see each other again but because we have kids, we’re always going to be intertwined.
When we were married, getting him to do stuff with the kids was like pulling teeth. I could not get him to do it .. not if I nagged or didn’t nag, or suggest anything. It was,
“I don’t want to. You can’t make me.”
Now that he’s been forced to grow up himself because he has his time with the kids, he gets up now before they get up, he cooks for them, he takes them places and always does stuff with them.
He’s definitely built a better relationship with the kids. He’s building bonds with them whereas before he was just watching them grow up and not really caring one way or the other what they did. He loved them and he was home a lot, he just never wanted to do anything or spend one-on-one time with the kids.
When we first divorced, he stayed with his sister and when the kids came back from visiting, I would ask,
“How was your weekend with dad?”
They would just look at me and say,
“We didn’t really spend any time with dad.”
Now, when they come back they’ll say,
“We went swimming, we did this, we went here. We had this much fun with dad.”
I’m glad he chose to be a better dad. I’m glad for the kids and that they recognize the difference in what he was before and what he is now. Part of me is frustrated though, wondering,
“Why didn’t you do that before?”
Probably what every ex is asking, “Why did you change now and not before?”
The Divorce Coach Says
I think Sara’s sentiment is one that many women can empathize with – T, for example watched her ex blossom after divorce. And it is bittersweet, seeing that change and wondering what might have been. But as Divorce to Happiness would say, that is not constructive – what happened, happened and now’s the time to move on. Moving on means you have a choice in how you react to your ex’s change in parenting role and being guided by “what’s best for the children,” it means celebrating that your children have another actively involved parent that loves them and will watch over them.
Sara will admit that celebrating the change doesn’t always come easy, especially when he doesn’t parent the way she would. Come back tomorrow to read how Sara came to terms with that.
Did you or your ex become a better parent after divorce? What do you think brought about the change?