So, it turns out I am a very jealous woman.
Case in point:
Once upon a star-studded night in Berkeley, just a few short months after we first hooked up, B and I sat on the stoop of my boarding house next to some girl from the neighborhood. And while we smoked our American Spirits, the conversation turned to music. OK, full disclosure time: I don’t like Radiohead. But B did. And so did this girl, apparently, because she went on and on and on about how ah-may-zing Thom Yorke is and how B’s band’s recent single “reached her” (gag) in the same way that the song, Creep, did when she was in high school.
I remember flicking my cigarette into the street, sending a shower of sparks into the night like tiny flecks of rage. And while I stalked upstairs, I tossed a pointed, “Are you coming?”at B, my words smoldering like the cigarette that now lay in the gutter.
At that point, even Zeus’s wife, Hera–Jealousy personified–would probably have said, “Damn girl, you need to chillax.” Not that we Jews believe in the Greek Pantheon, God Forbid.
But yeah, I will cut a bitch that messes with mine.
“Mine.” Really rational. Really healthy.
Look. Cerebrally, I realize that no one “belongs” to someone else–partners are not possessions, and possessiveness and jealousy do not for a happy relationship make. I get that. And I’m working on remembering that.
The thing is, B and I broke up–and not in a Ross and Rachel “We were on a break!” kind of way. (In other words, he is not “mine.” And I am not “his.”) Our marriage is really and truly over, and while we are committed to being kind to each other, neither of us harbors any delusions that one day we will live happily ever after together.
But both of us want to live “happily ever after.” Period. With ourselves. And, someday, with someone else. So yeah, there will come a time when he will hook up with the Israeli equivalent of Fangirl. And that’s ok.
This isn’t about B anymore.
It’s about our two children.
This is the reality: B and I are not a “we.” And while we are still co-parents, we are not partners. And this means that one one day–and maybe one day soon–there will be another woman in my childrens’ lives. And I know B well enough to know that he will only date a woman who can hang with our kids, and that’s a good thing. I guess. But it also means that one day there will be another woman reading books to my children. It means that one day there will be another woman brushing out the tangles in M’s Rasta-hairdo, and putting bandaids on E’s scabby knees. It means that one day, there will be another woman reading my children bedtime stories, although it’ll be a cold day in hell before I tell her their favorite bedtime songs.
(Jealousy 1: Sarah 0.)
And I guess I have to live with that. And it isn’t really a contest. (Right?) I mean, I know I’m their mother–and I know that never in a zillion years can another woman replace me. But I also know that when B falls in love again–which some day, he will, I hope–another woman will be in their lives. And that’s fair, because let’s be real: one day I hope there will be another man in their lives, too.
Because with one breath at a time, one step at a time, things are changing in all our lives. And maybe I can leave the jealousy behind, and change, too.
For more on divorce, read some expert opinions on when it’s time to split, how a single dad explains divorce to his daughter, and behind the scenes of the divorce vacation.