What do you do when you have a friend going through a divorce or a friend who is a single Mom? How can you help her NOT go insane?
Feed her, literally:
When the news of my husband’s mid-life crisis departure began to make the news around my social and professional circle, a woman who I knew but was more of an acquaintance showed up at my door one cold evening with dinner for me and my children and a bottle of wine. She said she had heard we were going through some sudden changes and wanted to help in some small way. Her small gesture was so appreciated. And I drank the whole bottle of wine alone after the kids went to bed that night. There’s no shame in my game.
Let her gripe about her Ex:
I should add a disclaimer to this, let her gripe about her ex for a little while…not forever. There will come a point where the topic of conversation needs to be something other than what a loser/douchebag her ex-husband is. That said, in the beginning, when tensions are high and negotiations can be tough, the personal attacks can be vicious. She will need a sounding board.
Reinforce to her that she is doing a good job:
No one else does. No one hugs her after cooking dinner, offers to do the dishes, says thank you for doing anything, let alone tells her she’s doing a good job parenting. A few kind words recognizing her efforts can take her very far.
Take her children out:
Just do it. Don’t wait for her to ask. Take them for one hour so she can exercise or make dinner. I have a child who is very clingy with me when I take her to school but is fine when others take her. My friend will take my child to school sometimes so I have a break from the drama. She will also tell me my kids are coming over to her house from 5pm-6:30pm “just because.” It is so helpful and makes me feel like I’m not doing this parenting gig totally by myself.
Take her out for a drink:
I’m a big proponent of getting a single mom OUT and about. Now, in my early days as a single mom I went out too much and met some seriously questionable dudes in my early days…Do I regret it? Not a bit. It shook out all the cobwebs that had taken hold in me during 12 years of marriage to a dude who evidently didn’t like me much and the attention boosted my self-esteem.
Let her lay on the couch
If you notice your single mom friend is spending a weekend holed up inside laying on the couch watching Law & Order SVU, it’s ok, just let her. If it is the ONLY thing she does on ALL her child-free weekends, be concerned. There are weekends when my children are gone and I feel like a cat stuck in a bag and just cannot wait to GET OUT of the house. Then there are those weekends when I am so exhausted from being the only parent that all I can do for 48 hours is sleep, order pizza, and catch up with Elliott and Olivia. Thank God USA network runs SVU marathons most days.
Don’t look at her with pity:
She can see it on your face! Don’t be Ms. Happy Sunshine either…That’s just fake. The best thing someone said to me after finding out I was getting a divorce was “That really really sucks”. There wasn’t any sugar coating or a pep talk. It DOES suck. Don’t tell her to call if she needs anything. She’s not going to call. Take it upon yourself to bring a meal, bring wine, take her children, help her with carpool, or any of the myriad of responsibilities she has. Just do it without asking. She will appreciate it so very much.
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