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Divorce

The Year My Dad Died, My Rabbi Was Arrested, and I Separated from My Husband

job application

Either the alarm didn’t go off this morning, or something in my brain refused to hear it. When I woke up it was about two hours later than intended. I got dressed and pep-talked myself. It’s been a long time since I went around to restaurants filling out applications. Actually, it’s been a long time since I’ve worked a day job. Mothering and homeschooling four kids full time only allowed for flexible side jobs like doula work and freelance writing and working on our family business.

But, hell, it’s been a while since I did any of those.

I started filling out today’s first application but I immediately had to request a second. I printed one of my old addresses on the line requesting my home address. Home address. There has been so much moving lately. So much change. And none of it feels like home. Not like it used to.

Over a year ago, in October of 2014, my dad passed away suddenly. The next day Barry Freundel, my rabbi, was arrested for voyeurism. Three months after that, my husband and I separated.

Today I find myself a full-time mother of one and weekend parent to the three little ones I’ve poured nearly all my hours into until recently. My ex-husband has now become my ex-best friend. After the Freundel scandle broke, I didn’t know what to do with my religion, so I placed it so far on the back burner than I can no longer even see it. And I miss my dad more now than I did a year ago.

A lot of shitty things have happened. A lot more are still happening. My ex and I, who used to co-parent smoothly, now suddenly don’t see eye to eye on anything. My stuff sits in boxes and in storage while I figure out a plan. I spend my nights strategizing, as if I have any moves left.

But I don’t. From here on, it’s just one big guessing game.

Everything has changed dramatically, and in the midst of it all, I don’t have a fucking clue who I am to the world. I don’t really know what I can offer anyone. I’m unfamiliar and inexperienced in the 9-5 working world, and unfortunately, it shows.

I’ve felt lonely for so long. I got married still a child myself, really, and quickly had kids who often were mistaken for my little siblings. When my friends were going to college and partying, I was watching “Sesame Street” and changing diapers. Now I’m unmarried and ready to get my first real taste of adult single life, but all those same friends have started families. I see their posts on Facebook. Wedding pictures. Baby pictures. Happy winter sledding family pictures. Lamenting posts about how tiring being a mommy is. How exhausted they are from being up all night with the baby. How bored their minds feel with nobody but toddlers to talk with all day.

And here I am, past all those early motherhood days, struggling to figure out how to start over.

I don’t know how to cook for one. I’ve never done it before. So far everything I’ve made eventually rots in the fridge. A pound of ground beef goes so far now.

I gave up writing for a while. I still tried, but every time I just dissolved into tears. How do I write a blog post about parenting when three of my four kids no longer live with me most of the time?

I do that a lot now. Cry. It’s humiliating. It’s also extremely frustrating. I don’t have time for mourning. I need to get on with my life!

That’s what I tell myself mostly because that is what people tell me. And I try. I go out. I read more. I let myself indulge in television. I take longer showers. I wear make-up. I even date. But honestly, all I want to do is hide under the covers and let a year or two pass. I’m tired. Really tired. And the blankets never judge me.

I’m a different kind of lonely now. Or maybe I just plain don’t know how to be alone.

I’m still a parent, mind you. Just a very different sort. My world doesn’t revolve around getting little children up and fed every morning. Or tucking them in at night. Now it’s full of text messages and blowing kisses over the phone. Weekends are our fun days.

“Who loves you more than anyone in the whole world?” I ask my toddler every time we speak.

“Mommy!” he eagerly responds. I don’t want him to think things have changed, that I love him less. Or that I want him less. I used to think my parents’ problems were because of something I did. I remember that weight. I don’t want my kids to know it, too.

Last week, my 6-year-old tried to give me his allowance. “Here, Mommy, you need it more than I do,” he said with those sincere blue eyes.

I smiled. Walked to the bathroom. Cried. Walked back out and took them to the park.

Because isn’t that what divorced parents do on their “on days”? Take their kids to the park and watch all the happy couples laugh and argue in whispers?

When did I become this person? I ask myself on a daily basis. And who is this person, anyway?

At the restaurant, filling out the application, I’m told to “list three professional references here.” I can’t think of one from the last five or 10 years. I feel ridiculous. Stupid. Incompetent.

I excuse myself from the table and let them know I am short on time, but I’ll be back with the application soon.

I go back home and crawl under the covers to watch Netflix and text with my kids. And cry.


Read More:

I’ve Been Writing Letters to My Sons, But They Can’t Read Them Yet

Mayim Bialik’s Tools for Divorce

Howard Stern’s Daughter on Her Orthodoxy: ‘F**k It If People Think It’s Weird’


 

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