The sun was setting in Michigan, so it had long since set in Connecticut, where my children spent this weekend with their father’s family. My iPhone pinged with a text from my daughter. I knew I’d hear from her as soon as the Sabbath silence could be broken.
The day was wonderful, she said, playing with cousins in a kosher-for-Passover hotel. Before sundown Friday, her cousin’s new wife painted her nails. Over the course of the Sabbath, she doted on her cousin’s toddler boys, and played in the gym with her soon-to-be-cousin when her aunt remarries.
“I’ll see you Tuesday?” she asked.
“Monday,” I reassured her.
For whenever we are separated, we have to know we always come back together.
The life of a divorced family isn’t easy. Of course, if I were still married to my children’s father, it doesn’t mean we’d have a blissful home. Set aside the notion that he and I had a tumultuous relationship, and consider that an intact family with two biological parents in the same house doesn’t guarantee time alone with each child or the personal satisfaction and wholeness that a parent needs in order to be a good parent.
Still. In my reality, six years and counting, my children leave every Tuesday and return every Wednesday. They spend alternate weekends with their father, and when the holidays arrive, we split them so they can celebrate with both of us. It’s the best case scenario for an altered family situation.
While he and I still don’t get along very well, I support whatever I can to ensure that my children have time with his family. It’s imperative that we know well the people who share our blood and history. Because no matter where we go in this world, no matter what we do, it all comes down to connection.
Without people who love you and people whom you love, life is hollow.
We can celebrate all the religious milestones we want (Happy Easter, Happy End of Passover), but without connections, without love, we are lost.
So many people go through the motions of living a meaning-filled life, only to be left lonely, staring out the window with longing. Churches and synagogues are big, cavernous spaces that fill with yearning souls dressed in their finest. But they can be the loneliest places on earth.
The stories we tell at these significant times all focus on people coming together, people learning how to fill their lives with depth, people in community seeking more.
My children fly back today, to spend tonight, a holiday day at the end of Passover, with their dad. They’ll be home at six o’clock tomorrow, and we’ll fall into our usual patterns of knowing and loving and comfort.
The back-and-forth is hard for everyone. But it also makes us cherish more the special love between us. I never get babysitters when my kids are with me because I have enough time without them to do what I need to do.
I take them each on “dates” of one-on-one time, so we can stay supremely connected. We pile into my bed regularly, snuggling close, even my older kids.
I’m not sure we’d be this close if I had stayed married to their dad. Of course, we’ll never know. But I sure am grateful for the love that flows between us and among us now.