Disney parents aren't that way the whole time. Little cracks appear and then big ones.
The sad clown has unrealistic expectations of what constitutes 'normal' behaviour from a 5.5 year old and a 3 year old. He is constantly berating them for just being kids.
My big girl has started calling herself 'stupid' - if she draws something and she's not happy with it she'll say "That is a stupid house" or something like that.
Whilst I don't think he is calling her stupid I can absolutely see him correcting her at every turn. A part of his 'high achieving' FOO mentality (read: nothing is ever good enough, I'm not good enough").
I think there is a balance. I made the mistake in my M of being 'bad cop' all the time. I intervened when he disciplined them because he would make them feel shit about themselves rather than focus on the learning opportunity. I don't believe in shaming to adjust behaviour - he does.
This meant that he got to do all the fun stuff and be 'good cop' whilst I did all of the hard stuff.
The only good thing about 50/50 is that I don't have to do all of the hard stuff, he is forced to do some 'real life' stuff too.
He doesn't measure up.
They don't just get to see his Disney side. It also happens to be the hardest thing about 50/50 as well.
I try to focus on sparkle moments with my girls. Yes there are things than need to be be done but I no longer squander those little magical moments - I relish them.
Love isn't just about fun things or stuff. It is about listening to them, enjoying them, making them feel loved, cherished and respected. Sharing yourself with them and letting them share themselves with you.
Their dad won't be their soft place to land. He'll give them money and toys but they will never feel like a priority to him. They won't feel loved just for who they are but rather just because they carry his DNA.
I'm not raising children, I'm raising future adults. Their needs are so much broader than 'stuff' and as they get older that chasm becomes more and more evident.
Time is the big one. They need someone interested and invested and invested in them, not to be on someone's 'To Do' list.
I already see it now when my big girl expresses her unhappy feelings about things that go on over there. When I suggest she talk to her dad about it she says she tries but he dismisses her or laughs - "stop being silly".
I do see them growing to crave their fathers attention. Kids have an amazing ability to blame themselves when it is absent. I also see them growing to take mine for granted for a time but I won't waver - I will remain interested and invested.
I don't feel in competition with him. Their hearts are big enough to love us both. They'll enjoy certain aspects of what he has to offer more and certain aspects of what I have to offer more.
I won't disappoint them or let them down. I'll be there in body, mind and heart. They'll always feel this even if they can't name it. If he happens to bring any goodness or joy into their lives then that makes me happy - I don't feel threatened by it because in balance their needs (emotional and otherwise) are being met, doesn't matter what the proportion of contribution is.