Life as a co-parent has left both of us feeling a little threatened in our role at times. I was almost right away. I was out of the home that I built, struggling to make ends meet, clinging to the notion that I was still dad. I had visions of all the deadbeat and absentee dads from movies and book constantly running through my head. The life I had known was crumbling before me … and then she was with another man, a family friend for several years, and I saw myself just fading completely. “Family” outings and vacations were now a thing … and in my head, if there was another guy there what role would I have.
It hurt, but more so it made me mad. If you happened to talk to me during that period of my life, you knew it. My very existence felt threatened … and for me this wasn’t acceptable. I vowed to stay engaged … and I have done just that. It has not been an easy path. One with lots of ups and downs. Yet, I fight through the struggle to ensure my time with the boys is secure … they know they are loved, they have a safe and fun place to be, and that dad is both interested and invested in both their schooling and their lives.
This has developed some tense moments between their mother and myself. However, I have not relented. I refuse to be defined on her terms – even when it costs me more money, it often costs me less stress. In some cases I take things too far, draw my lines too early, and push too hard in demanding my allotted time. It results in fights, stress, and has resulted in additional lawyer bills.
Why? Because I felt threatened.
When life is going good? When we are happy? We don’t end up feeling as threatened. Deep down we know, no one can take away our roles … we have to give up on them. Just giving up a weekend, being missed on an email notification from the teacher, or being included in a standard doctors checkup. It takes you giving up on showing love.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t appreciate being left out of communications and if I find out I will say something. I won’t accept failure to adhere to the parenting plan, especially if it is going to impact my time with the boys. That is what the kids expect.
While the boys and I fight over homework, chores, and what is acceptable in-door behavior – what they always know is that I want the best for them, that I love them, and that I will always be there. That is because I am Dad. That is what matters.