How to Treat the Newly Divorced Mom: An Open Letter

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Dear Friends,

I want to thank you all so much for your support during this transition in my family’s life. Whether I left, he left or we agreed to part ways, this is a difficult time. I really appreciate how you all stood by me in the early days and weeks. Your calls, texts and emails- even if they went unanswered, really meant a lot to me and helped smooth the way. It was so nice to know I was being thought of.

And I really did treasure every offer to do bodily harm to him, though I politely declined them all.

But now it’s been a few months. Our smaller family is working to figure out what the new normal is. And we seem to be doing pretty darn well. You run into me doing errands or at the park with the kids. The kids and I have gone on vacation. My Facebook updates and tweets seem as normal as they’ve always been. The kids look happy and are busy with activities.

But how we seem to be doing and how we really are doing are two different things.

In the early days of the separation, I was in shock. It wasn’t sinking in. I’d find myself wondering what time he’d be home at night, only to suddenly realize he was never coming home again. People remarked  that I seemed to be doing so well. But I didn’t have the luxury of crawling into bed and crying. Kids had to go to school and activities. I still had commitments to honor. The damn dogs had to be fed.

I guess it was those early days that threw friends off the scent of my sorrow. Everyone got busy with their lives again, which of course they should. Emails and other check-ins slowed, then stopped. Divorce talk now became less about how we were doing than what the latest development was.

But right now is when I need your help the most, as the realization hits that I’m alone. Weekends drag by with just myself and the kids. Mornings and bedtime are brutal, running between rooms trying to either rouse to rally or soothe to sleep two kids who are splitting one parent. Invitations out with other couples on a Saturday night have died off as no one seems to know quite what to do with me. Similarly, I feel kind of awkward inviting over a family like I used to for a BBQ or dinner. Who’s the husband going to hang with? And will I be able to suppress my urge to yell “at least you have a husband!” when you start complaining about yours?

So I’m going to tell you what I’d love. I’d love you to call and and drag me out of my house for some adult time. I’d love to get coffee or my nails done or go shopping. But most days it’s hard to pick up the phone for me to call you myself. I’d love you to ask my kid for a playdate on a weekend. Yes, I know it’s family time, but our diminished family needs some time apart too. I also want you to know it’s still ok to invite me out with you and your husband or a party. Sure I might be uncomfortable at first, but I’m going to have to get used to it.

Please don’t just tell me to “hang in there.” When you do, all I can picture  is that 1970s poster of the orange kitten hanging from a branch, at which point I’m just alone and annoyed.

Don’t ignore my thinly veiled cries for relief. When I text you “Help. Never going to make it through the weekend – **thisclose** to complete breakdown” I actually mean it. Just texting back, “I’m sorry. Same over here” goes a long way. Suggesting an activity or an impromptu get together is even better. A glass of something alcoholic or caffeinated with you? Hold all calls, we have a winner.

I know everyone’s busy. No one wants a pathetic friend they need to check in on like an aging, ailing relative. But I promise not to be pathetic for long. I just need some friends to serve as scaffolding, keep me up and stable, until I can move to the next phase.

XO
Me

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