My ex-husband and I, divorced a year, speak quietly so the boys, 13 and 15, won't hear. He can't look at me when he says it: His girlfriend is pregnant. All I can think is, Asshole. I say, "Just as things were settling down. You'll ruin the boys' lives."

He stares at his hands. "That's not fair," he says, "and it's not true." For weeks white-hot fury stews my organs. I try to focus on the boys—on making this new new normal as easy on them as possible. After the baby is born, my sons go to the city to see their brother. I meet them at Grand Central so we can ride home together. I stand under the clock, watching them approach, gangly and animated. They each carry a Crumbs Bake Shop bag.

"Mom! She bought us cupcakes!" She, the girlfriend. "Oh," I say, clinging proprietarily to their arms.

Six months later, the girlfriend and baby move into my ex's condo in our town. One day I pull up next to his car at a light. I turn and lock eyes not with him but with her, driving his car. We stare at each other. The light changes, and we drive off. My hands shake. I can't do this, I think. But what's the option? Move?

To my counselor, Maxine, I say, "I can't do this." She asks me, "Is it really so bad to have another loving person in your boys' lives?"

No, it isn't. What's bad is them seeing me cry when they mention their brother, or stiffen if they say her name. What's bad is how inexplicable my feelings have become—why do I care that my ex-husband is in love with someone else? I am hurting my kids by nurturing this resentment and bitterness.

Later that week I drive my younger son to his dad's. "I'm going in," I say. His face tightens. "No, Mom. Don't. Please."

"Honey, it's okay," I tell him.

When the door opens, I extend my hand. "Hi, I'm Diane. Nice to meet you." She smiles, says, "You, too." I see that innocent baby bouncing in his swing behind her. "He's adorable," I say. He greets me with a heart-melting smile.

"Thank you," she says. "I'm glad you got to meet him. Come in and sit down for a while."

"I should get going," I say. I have nowhere to be, but I have to go.

As I drive away, I'm wracked with sobs so strong, I feel the need to pull over. But it's not sorrow I feel. It's relief, and gratitude. Finally, I see the love in that house for what it is: a gift.


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