Moments later, a pretty red head approached and said hello. She looked familiar. (I hate when that happens. I searched my brain for her name!)
“JD how do you know *Sean?” I asked.
“Moooo-om! He goes to my school, but lives in a different classroom,” JD said. (Lives, heehee.)
“I’m *Lori,” the woman said.
“Chrissy, hi!” I said. “You looked so familiar.”
“They have before and after-care together,” she said.
“Right, right!” I said.
“I’ve lived here for three years and never saw you guys,” I said, smiling. (That’s JD and me at the pool—three years ago. Squeeee!)
The boys were splashing in the pool with their life vests on. I sat on the age, emerging my legs into the water.
Lori searched the pool to make sure Sean was distracted. “I just got divorced,” she said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. (I didn’t even know if “sorry” was the right thing to say. It just popped out of my mouth.)
Then she told me about his cheating. The new GF. The big home that they had to sell. The legal stuff. The custody arrangement. This, all after 19 years together. (Burn.) It was pretty textbook.
“Well, welcome to the club, girlfriend!” I said.
“You’re divorced?” she said.
“Ah, I never wed. My boyfriend skipped town when I was pregnant.” I said this so easily. It was like, duh, this happens to everyone. She apologized to me. But, I was like, “Eh, it happens!”
I gave her the short version. And told her to refer to my past 6 years of blogging on glamour.com, parenting.com and here on babble.com—and to read my book, of course. (Some people loved it. Other people hated it. The NYT review is framed in my office.)
Then I gave her some advice:
- Badmouth your ex to me, your mom, your best friend—but never your kid.
- Cry in the shower or when your child is sleeping. I’ve shed many tears on the ride to work. A good cry is awesome!
- Ask for help. Even though you are sharing custody, find a sitter or someone as backup. Call me!
- You must date. Don’t feel like you need to find a boyfriend ASAP—but go on at least one date ASAP—this will remind you, you are sexy and desirable. You must pull the Bandaid.
- Have sex. If you don’t have sex, you WILL fall into this weird, I-don’t-need-sex phase, then the drought will all of a sudden overwhelm you and BAM—you will feel like a robot who takes care of her kid, works and sleeps—it’s depressing. Basically find a sex buddy. (Sorry if this is too racy for my shy readers. I am a 32-year-old woman. We all have needs.)
- Enjoy your child. Hooray, you have him all to yourself when he’s on your time! Yay!
- Remember… everything happens for a reason. Life will surprise you.
- You’ll be OK. Even on days you don’t think you’ll be OK. Those days will pass.
Then I left her with my favorite quote:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Sweet readers, give my new single mom friend Lori some advice! Welcome her. Cheer her on!
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Disclosure: *Names changed to protect privacy