'For years my ex had zero interest in our son's school sport. Then he got good at it.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

My son Alex has always loved playing football and I enrolled him at our local club when he was six years old. I assumed his father would be a regular at the club, watching his son play each weekend during football season. 

But my then-husband Jake had zero interest in attending any of Alex’s games and he also refused to drive him to training as he progressed over the years. It was always up to me, and I just accepted that. Anything to keep the peace.

I had a volatile relationship with Jake and I was always treading on eggshells around him. He has an explosive temper and you never quite know what will set him off. One time I asked if he could take Alex to training so that I could catch up with a girlfriend for her birthday, and he went off the rails — yelling at me about my "selfish lifestyle". This was totally insane because my lifestyle revolved around working from home and caring for our two kids while he was very much married to his job. 

He was one of those fathers who’d stay late at the office rather than rush home to help me with the witching hour of feeding, bathing and bedtime. Years after our divorce one of his colleagues told me that Jake lied to me about having to work late and would really be working out at a gym near his office. So that’ll give you an idea of what kind of father he was. 

Watch: The 6 Types of Sports Parents. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

When Alex’s footy team got into the grand final, I suggested to Jake that it’d be a good idea if he came to the match because, if the team won, it’d be nice for him to congratulate our son in the moment. Well, he did turn up and Alex’s team did win, so that was very nice. But it was five years before his father turned up again and I’ve spent many years counselling my son that, while his father loves him dearly, he doesn’t have any interest in football. That’s the only way I could explain why Jake doesn’t turn up to Alex’s games and yet he goes out of his way to make sure he attends our daughter’s dance recitals… Go figure!

When the kids were aged 12 and 10, Jake and I divorced, and we were relatively amicable at first. Life was easier being apart from him, as I no longer had to feel like I was walking on eggshells whenever he was around me. Being at home without being fearful of his next unhinged outburst was a huge joy after a decade of marriage. 

But one thing that never changed was Jake’s disinterest in our son’s love of football. And, by the age of 16, he was clearly showing great talent — he was selected to join the junior league of a major team. Alex once asked me, "Why doesn’t dad come to my games?" and it was just heartbreaking. As for me, I was too gutless to confront Jake about why he didn’t bother attending Alex’s games. I was just too fearful of triggering another outburst.


I was very busy juggling solo-parenting two kids along with my own business. And the admin and legwork spent on Alex’s football was quite exhausting. But, I reasoned, it was the biggest love of his life and his coach told me he had a very bright future. So, it was all worthwhile to keep helping him achieve his sporting dreams.

But now my son is 18, things are very different. He is now in a state team and is considered to be a rising star… And guess what? Now his father is attending every game, basking in the glory of our son’s success.

Firstly, I am happy for Alex that his father is finally turning up, after all these years. But, perhaps selfishly, it’s very bitter sweet for me. Where was his father for all those years? He should have been helping me with all the driving to and from training, to and from games and all the inter-state travel I’ve needed to do with our son. While I am glad in many ways that I’ve been the person instrumental in my son’s success, I’m also angry that my ex-husband has only just decided to show up. Yes, it’s better late than never, but I hope my son never forgets that I am the parent who has been there for his sporting career from the get-go — not his father.

Feature Image: Canva.

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