Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How it feels

I was invited over to Jenn and David's the other night after work, an impromptu email from David announcing that Sophie was holding a bake sale for the local humane society. By the time I arrived, the sidewalk table was bare but the hand-drawn sign (which included drawings of a dog or two in Sophie's inimitable style) pitched slices of fresh banana bread at 25 cents apiece. The girls were home on holiday and David turned them into bakers, creative energy culminating in a worthy cause. A couple neighbors were standing nearby and assured me that the bake sale had, indeed, sold out - a success!

I climbed the steps and went inside. The girls were now watching TV but Sophie let me know that she netted $10 for the local strays. We have two animal shelters nearby and Jenn gave Sophie her choice of where to donate, explaining that the one shelter was a sadder place, more worn down and struggling than the newer, larger location. Sophie thought her options over carefully while we sat down to dinner and chose the more destitute and beleaguered for her donation. We all applauded her decision. Then we ate. We all sat around the table and David explained some of his Passover weekend to me while we shared in leftovers and talked about rituals.

I find this quite amazing.

My adult children are splitting up, each seeking to go in new directions. And, still, we sit at the table and care enough to speak of things and activities that are important to each of us. I am flying to London in a week through the generosity of a friend; David's father has been ill; Jennifer's company has moved. We break bread and listen. Banana bread. The girls eat hard-boiled eggs while we eat home-made salads from Sophie's birthday weekend. The eggs were part of Passover dishes but they play a part in Easter celebrations too. Eggs. New life, new beginnings.

I want the best for all my children. I still find it surreal and sad to know that this marriage is ending. Yet endings lead to fresh beginnings. I wonder. I worry. I try to understand.

Does a son-in-law remain a son-in-law after a divorce? Can I love my daughter yet confess love for the man who loved her and co-produced two beautiful, sensitive little girls? My grandchildren.

This is strange territory for all of us. No road map to guide the way. We are learning as we're going.

The hardest part of becoming a mother-in-law is letting yourself trust that your children have chosen well. That's why the divorce is so hard. There was (and still is) love involved. I hold on to that as I hope in the future for happiness for each of them.

There are times when it is good, very good, to be invited to the family table to share a meal and each other's presence, to accept the moment for what it is - a blessing. And then to release it.

We will get through this, all of us in our own way.


geogirl said...

You all *will* get through this and I know your love and support is a big reason why.

You are lucky to have each other no matter what the circumstance.

Terry said...

My mother once told me that my sister's divorce was "the worst thing that has ever happened to me." I scoffed at her and reminded her that it didn't happen to *her*--it happened to my sister. What did I know 20 years ago? Now that I have adult, married children of my own I think I can understand what she meant. Your family seems much more civilized than most in this situation. I hope you all survive intact and preserve the love that remains.

pogonip said...

It has to be as hard for you as them. Worrying about the girls. Feeling a sense of loss. We're all out here pulling for all of you.

Rachael said...

I am the child of my father's second marriage, but am good friends with his first wife. Redefining family is difficult, but I am grateful that she has allowed her love to extend past the end of their marriage.

Babybloomr said...

Mater, I discovered Jenn's website from a funny post, stayed for the writing, and fell in love with you by association. My own mother is 91, sharp as a tack, funny and feisty as ever-- so I know just how lucky your family is to have you. I have never admired you more than now, during what must be a difficult, confusing time. Your unwavering support and understanding in a situation that is not of your own making but deeply affects you and everyone you love is a study in grace.
My girls are 11 and 15, and I have no idea what life is going to require from all of us as they continue to grow up and out. My goal is to always be the safe place for them that you so obviously are to your family.

The Mater said...

I am deeply touched by every one of these comments, some from longstanding friends and others from new visitors. Thank you so much for your support!

Wayne said...

Cousin E-

If there is anything I can do for you ( even down here in Philly) please let me know.

I've really valued your support for me after Mom died.

Love to you and the family. the pictures of the kids are adorable!!! I cannot believe how big they got!

Safe travels to London.