Everybody is talking this weekend about “Eat Pray Love,” the movie adaptation of the bestseller about a woman who travels around the world when she gets divorced and finds enlightenment. Now, in theory, I should be all over this bookmovie because I do feel like going through a divorce allowed me to know myself and see my place in the world in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. In almost every way, the process of divorce has been a hero’s quest for me.
But. I’m a mom. So I couldn’t just take off to exotic destinations and eat artisanal pasta and mess around with foreign eyecandy, and that’s where the book lost me. I’d rather read a book about my experience and the experience so many of my parent friends tell me about instead:
Eat: When it all hits the fan initially, you pretty much can’t eat, so you lose 20 pounds without even noticing it. Then you get so stressed out that you start eating to relieve the stress. Lots and lots of ice cream, homemade chocolate pudding (I finish mine by sprinkling some dark brown sugar on the top so it melts in and forms kind of a sauce), cookies, and pizza. Of course, all this emotional eating is done after your kids are in bed asleep, because you attack their diets with renewed energy–there’s nothing like divorce to make you feel like you have to be SuperParent, and part of that is packing bento boxes full of whole-grain, vegetable-rich meals which your kids will then trade for lunchables and Oreos in the school cafeteria.
Pray: First you pray that you won’t lose your kids somehow in the divorce, or all your savings. Then you pray you can pay your rent, now that you’re a one-income family. The whole time you’re praying that your kids will grow up emotionally healthy, that getting divorced will save them instead of hurting them even more. Then you start praying that you can have a good relationship with your ex, so that the disease that broke your marriage apart won’t stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. I actually thought this prayer was in vain, but I’m starting to think the healing is sprinkling down so gently I didn’t notice it initially.
Love: You love your children. so much and so fiercely that you don’t need any other love for a long, long time. And while the logistical and legal wheels turn you find that you love yourself more than you had since you were 17. Another miracle is that the people around you–even those you didn’t think cared about you–turn and put their hands out, so when you fall they catch you. Love is all around, and it’s all you need.
Going through the stages is important. I couldn’t be a truly good parent (and co-parent) for my children until I let myself be who I am, and that meant I had to go through a lot of grief and anger and ice cream to get to being happy with my place in the world. It’s not easy and it hurts, still. Not every day anymore, but a few times a week, at least.
This gentle balance, the maturity (as some of you have said in the comments) required to co-parent with LOD, has been hard-won for me. But I do not regret the fight, and I’m optimistic about the outcome.
But I do miss my kids. It’s Day 6.