Last night the boys and I had dinner with another divorced mom and her two children at a pizzeria. It’s not exactly newsworthy, but for me the evening was monumental.
I just never thought the day would come when we could finally do what “normal” families do. See, it has taken a long time for me, post-divorce, to be able to justify spending money out on dinner, albeit even for slices of pizza and juice boxes.
And even if money were not an issue, I was always focused on making it through the day with work, endless paperwork for my lawyer and other struggles. A fun night felt incomprehensible. And would it even be fun? The thought of taking three young children to a restaurant by myself just never appealed with their limited palates, short attention spans and crazy energy.
Rare previous attempts at dining out were disastrous. Someone’s plate always ended up on the floor. A fight would erupt as soon as we sat down regarding who would get my phone. And inevitably, one of them would have to poop as soon as the food arrived forcing me to choose between accompanying said child to the restroom and leaving the other two, or dragging all three.
Then we would have to discuss for the umpteenth time why they must use the ladies’ room and not the men’s. (“Will we be allowed to use the men’s room without you when we are 10?…how about 12?….college?”) And do not even get me started on the exhausting task of lining the toilet with paper only to seat the child as the paper slips away.
So, dinner out the other night was huge. When the other family arrived at the restaurant I was just as excited to be with a new friend as the boys were to be with theirs’. We settled the children into their seats, gave them paper and colors and made sure that they were happily engaged before the other mom and I, despite only meeting recently, easily transitioned into warmhearted conversation like old companions.
We compared horror stories from our divorces, lamented the retirement funds that we handed over to our attorneys, but also found humor and insight in all that we have faced trying to take care of our children, maintain our jobs and just survive the day-to-day drama. Like me, she too is beginning to feel that the worst is behind her. Apparently, this was a big night for her family too.
I read a great deal of advice online during my divorce. Some of it was helpful, but most of it I had to learn for myself. Now, I feel I have finally hit solid ground again. The children and I have an apartment in a vibrant town. I have my work and the boys have their routines.
Starting next fall, they will all be in the same elementary school, which will shorten our commute drastically and simplify my life even more. We have also found our spiritual home at the congregation where I teach and unbelievably, we will begin preparing for a b’nai mitzvah soon…just as other “normal” Jewish families do.
As for me, I am working out again and trying to take better care of myself finally. But the icing on my cake has been finding a mommy friend who understands my challenges as a divorced mom. I am building that village I have so desperately needed for years living separated from my extended family.
Progress post-divorce for me has come slowly and uncomfortably. I have made many mistakes and lost my shit more times than I would like to admit, but I have also spent a fair share of time self-reflecting, writing and seeking professional assistance.
At last, in recent months, I have stopped engaging in heated, ugly text messages with my ex. I now grab a book instead of a bottle of wine to relax when the children are with their father, and I have learned to let go of that running mental list I once kept that documented every hurt and injustice I’ve endured. I have found my peace…well, mostly.
My wise new friend says it takes three years to rise from the ruins. I am at three and a half years. Perhaps I am a slower learner. But my cup runneth over, as it is written, and I feel triumphant. Prayers and gratitude are in order to all who helped me reach this moment.
You see, I had pizza in a restaurant. I cannot wait to see what the future brings.