To my ex-husband:
Both of us know we don’t belong together any longer. But there was a time when we did. Back then, all I could see was you, our future, lots of children, and a house in the country. I got all of that — we got all of that — and then some. Then, our marriage fell to pieces and broke us both wide open. But the love we had, the kids we had, the life we had will forever be a part of us.
When we decided to go our separate ways, it was the hardest decision we’ve both had to make. We didn’t handle it perfectly; in fact, we hurt each other, sometimes deliberately and sometimes by mistake. But we made it through to the other side.
I didn’t always know what the future would bring for us, but I did know one thing for sure: that you would always put our children first. Letting them down is not an option for you, and no matter what we were going through, you made sure they were OK.
I know you brush off Father’s Day like it’s not a big deal, and I know your expectations are pretty low. But you deserve to be celebrated — this year more than ever. And I will see to it that you are. I know being a divorced dad of three kids is a huge job, and I know there are times when you don’t feel like you can keep up. But somehow, you always mange to give them what they need.
And just because we are no longer married, it doesn’t make you any less a father. In fact, you are more to them now. Because when they are with you, you are the father and mother. You always have to be “on,” and you truly make use of your time with them because you no longer get to see them every day. You make your time count.
I want our kids to see that, and I want them to recognize all you do for them. But I don’t think it’s fair to leave Father’s Day solely up to them. I want them to see me participate in making this day feel special for you because I value the relationship you have with all three of them more than you know. And for me, helping them celebrate you on Father’s Day is my way of letting them know that even though we aren’t married anymore, Father’s Day is still special to me too. Because without you, I wouldn’t have these three treasures.
You became their father when I became their mother, and you’ve felt all the feelings and emotions I did. And we will always have that. We don’t have to live under the same roof or be best friends to have that together. Our children are a part of you, and you are part of them, and that will never change. Every time I look at them, I see you in them, and I think, We did that. We made them. I will never not have warm feelings about that fact, no matter what you and I go through.
I know with all my being that despite the fact that we aren’t in love anymore, you were the man who was supposed to father my children. I’ve never doubted that, not even for a moment. And it’s important that our kids know I feel that way — and that they will always be a product of our love.
Just because their parents aren’t married any longer, it doesn’t mean these kids didn’t come from a beautiful place.
Happy Father’s Day.
A version of this story was originally published in June 2019.