Monday, April 27, 2009

Making the Best of the Worst

Last week, a friend confided in me that she and her husband were divorcing. He's already moved out and, amidst the logistics of hiring lawyers and figuring finances, they are discussing the painful point of custody of their young daughter.

Ah, married bliss. Sadly, how fleeting it too often is.

Making the best of a bad situation generally means an amicable arrangement of shared custody. A child's need and love for both parents, of course, should take precedence over all other matters. (Barring cases of neglect or abuse, subjects for writers willing to tackle far more tragic topics than I am.)

Even so, my heart wrenched as I recalled the first few evenings of sending my own kids off to their father's new house. What would I possibly do with myself? Sure I had friends. I had hobbies. Before, I'd always relished those rare opportunities of an evening to myself. But these imposed nights of solitude, three times a week? I would be lonely. I would be lost. I would be...

Wait. This wasn't nearly as bad as I expected, I learned, after just a few weeks. Funny, how I filled the time, how I learned to be independent, how I soon stopped crying every time they drove away.

Not that I didn't miss them when they were gone. The phone calls were frequent. The recaps of their time away were met with a combination of interest and envy.

But still. I learned to cope and eventually learned to enjoy the nights without my children, just like I learned to enjoy the nights with them--which contained their own set of challenges.

For those entering this strange and scary territory of new singlehood, I offer the following (men should modify the recipe, as needed):

Top Ten Things to Do on the First Night by Yourself

10) Order a pizza with toppings he always vetoed.
9) Eat popcorn for dinner.
8) Let loose at Target.
7) Watch the entire first season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
6) Call a sympathetic friend with an also less-than-perfect life.
5) Wear sweats and your favorite slippers, and go sans makeup, (but do not look in a mirror).
4) Go for an endorphin-building run, then devour a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
3) Lie in bed and shop from catalogs by phone.
2) Make a list of all the women you know who are not quite as smart or good-looking as you.
1) Open a bottle of wine and begin writing your memoirs (embellishing only slightly).

Enjoy the best that life has to offer. Endure the worst. And when possible, do it in your sweats, eating a black olive and pepperoni pizza.

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