Tommy Maloney shares some hard-won advice to help with the divorced dad Sunday blues.
UGH I hate Sundays and today is Monday, but it is not for the normal reason of not wanting to go to work. Sundays for me or I should say every other Sunday is where my hate boils up. You might of figured it out that I am a “every other” weekend dad, and yes it truly and honestly sucks. I learned very much the hard way that our kids deserve to have both of their parents in their lives as equal as it can be. Personally I was in a very depressed state to fight for my rights as a dad and therefore failed to fight as hard as I could have.
Lesson one for today is fight for your rights. When my former wife stated that we did not need lawyers for the divorce, I should have insisted, or I should have suggested mediation to protect ourselves and the kids. The quick back story here is that I asked for the divorce on a Sunday and received the papers by Wednesday at the office where I was working at in another state. Please understand I may come off as biased towards the man’s perspective, but this life lesson of protecting yourself and your parental rights holds true for men and women, fathers and mothers. I signed the papers with out getting any legal advice, and because of that I am an “every other weekend dad.”
There were times as I would be driving back home after dropping off my son when I would keep the radio turned down, because I was waiting for a email from my ex to let me know how I screwed up some way in the 46 hours I had my son. I will be the first to tell you when I do mess up. We in the divorce community need to stop bullying our former spouses, and yes I did say bullying. Figure out the best way to communicate with each other and do that. Years ago I was sitting in a courtroom because at that time I was fighting to keep my son in state. Even the judge told both of us that we needed to work on our co-parenting skills. I was being pretty uncooperative about pick-ups and drop off, but I finally took the judge’s advice. Now, with a better sense of my rights and my self-esteem restored, I no longer need to turn down the radio.
Lesson two is simple, but it’s your choice. My own parents’ divorce effected me emotionally, and I didn’t understand how a therapist might have helped me in my late teens when I was depressed to the point of suicide (two failed attempts). You will need to seek help and when I say help, I don’t mean friends. Take the time and research professional counselors to find a good fit. I liked the marriage counselor who helped my ex and me through our divorce so much that I kept going back even after the divorce because I needed to work on me. I was a messed up kid who needed to learn how to be an adult.
Lesson three is all about changing attitude. Once I figured out that I was not the victim in my divorce, that helped set the stage for my attitude to change. All I wanted to do was try my best and be a good dad. The first step I had to make was to change my attitude of the “it’s not my fault” and move on. I once heard one of the top motivational speakers tell the audience that when you have dark times, set a time limit, and I really wish I had taken that advice. It took me about six months of feeling sorry for myself. I was so embarrassed by my divorce that I could not face my son, so I literally hid from him. That cost me time with him. I had to change my attitude, and once I finally did life started to get better.
Yes I am an every other weekend dad but I will do what ever it takes to find ways to spend with my son. Even when I am down because I have just dropped him off, and I come home to see my new wife’s girls, I have to remember that I still need to be present in their lives as well. Separations suck and especially when it deals with you kids. However, if you can just move past the pity party and be in your kids lives, you can make such a big difference. I used to have a boss tell me that if you hate Mondays then treat it like a Friday. Well, Fridays are good for me since that is the day I pick up my son, so from here on out, I’m treating Sundays like Fridays.