“Disneyland Dad”: Opinionated MAMA’s Perspective On Divorce

Never would I have believed in the Disneyland dad phenomenon if I were not living it.   The strange thing about divorce is how many surprises and challenges it presents. Even in the case of a relatively amicable situation between the adults, MAMAs shoulder a majority of the day-to-day grind…carpools, homework, appointments, bed, bath, and plenty of emotional fall out to handle…it’s no Electric Light Parade every night, if you know what I mean?! (I know that there are plenty of you DADDY-Os who shoulder the parental deal 50/50 or more…so, you’re exempt from my rant!)  The magic is hard to find.

Visitation is a tricky deal for the kids.  So, for them, we MAMAs have to put on our Mickey Mouse ears at all times.  The handoffs have to be smooth.  We have to help them deal with their relationship with the other parent, so they don’t have to take sides.  We have to be okay with the exes new love interests and say only good things about everyone to keep a harmonious, peaceful and stable environment ever present for our little mouseketeers.   In my case, they always return from time with daddy, happy, well fed and with armfuls of gifts or souvenirs.  I always tell them how glad I am that they had fun, and how much their dad loves them.  Secretly, though, sometimes it makes me feel barfy, because there is NO WAY I can compete.  I deal with all the day-to-day crap and he gets rides on the Tea Cups.  Barf.

Sometimes I “go there” in my mind and think, geeze, the swoop-in dad role has got to be awesome.  What I wouldn’t give to get to have unadulterated fun with my kids whenever we’re together?  I mean, seriously….the best!  To be able to just pick up the kids and hit Disneyland, go skiing, hang on the beach…go fishing, to movies, to dinner and to baseball games…heaven.  No homework, no counting pennies and no loading up everyone in the car to rush to this and that activity.  No coordinating play dates, dealing with tantrums, buying birthday gifts for friends, shoe shopping, sibling conflict resolution, or constant technology monitoring.  It’s gotta be great to see your kids only at their best…having fun, being carefree and giggly.  I get to do the nagging, scheduling and laundry.  I feel like Cinderella…after the makeover, the prince, the kids and the divorce!

The trade off, though, is that with all the stress, discipline and routine, comes the knowledge that it’s us MAMAs who provide the stability our kids need to live happily ever after.  Disneyland is fun and it’s hard not to be a little envious from time to time.  However, as we remind ourselves that life is not all fairytales and Peter Pan rides, we also have to remember the zipity do dah in every day situations.  No one says that carpool can’t be fun…crank the Radio Disney tunes and sing-a-long MAMA!  Just because the routine is a little hum drum, doesn’t mean you always have to be.  You can have some fun, too!

For those of us who are co-parenting with Disneyland dads, I say, don’t lose heart.   Know that your kids’ bond with you is sweeter than cotton candy and stronger than Mighty Mouse.  After all, who do they want when they are sleepy, sneezy, grumpy, dopey, happy, bashful or need a doc?  Truly, the happiest place on earth for our kids is when they are snuggled up next to mom.  You do make their dreams come true!

5 Responses to “Disneyland Dad”: Opinionated MAMA’s Perspective On Divorce

  1. Anonymous September 8, 2010 at 11:13 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Amen and Hallelujia: so say we all…both my kids have elected for Disneyland Dad this summer and schoolyear. I have faith that in coming days, this year, next or in ten, as they sit in carpool lanes, rush around for last minute necessities for projects dropped in their laps, or when a mate or significant other flakes out on them, the memories of a loving, steadfast mother with a sense of humour will remind them. I don't need their accolades; their character and achievement speak volumes if only to me. When the rubber hits the road for them, I trust my loving care, chiding and high expectations will win out over easy triumphs in competition for "most fun parent".

    • Anonymous September 9, 2010 at 8:04 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Honestly, PERFECTLY said…regardless of everything else, snuggled up next to mom is the happiest place on Earth for our kids. As they get older, consistency, consistency, consistency. They can have fun with their friends, they need their MAMA for all the other stuff…if fun squeaks in, super!

    • Anonymous September 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Amen and Hallelu …seconded!

  2. Anonymous November 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    whoever wrote this is a fuckin idiot

  3. Anonymous April 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I really needed to hear this tonight. My three kids just got back from spending a week with their dad, who came here from California. Because of maaaaaany issues, the court won't allow visitation in California, thank goodness. That still doesn't stop him from LITERALLY telling them if they went there they'd go to Disneyland, blah blah etc. While I'm still required to only sing his praises, it is the single most difficult thing in the world to do when they have their own complaints as well. When they come to me begging to go see him so they can go to the beach, go to Disneyland, whatever, it puts me in the position of being the "bad guy" who says no.

    Then of course it's back to the daily grind.

    I simply remind myself that while "Dad" is back taking it easy in sunny Cali, I'm the one that gets to hear my son sing in his choir or watch my daughter figure skate. I'm the one my littlest one was cuddling with tonight. Not him.

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