I hung out this week with an old friend.

I was in the neighborhood, so we went to a boutique she had been trying to get me to for years. The clothes were as fabulous as promised, and I bought all kinds of lacey, velvety, autumn-colored things. Shopping faded into lunch, and it ended up being a pretty perfect day.

Married or not, nothing beats time with your girlfriends. Your girlfriends will always understand and support you in a way no one else can (cut to me telling Joel: “No, I don’t want you to fix my problem. Em-pa-thize.”)

One snag, though . . . My girlfriend and I can’t tell her son we saw each other because her son is my ex — and, well, he and I are not exactly speaking to each other. And by “not exactly” I mean not at all. But Marsha and I are tighter than a pair of Spanx at the end of a long night.

I dated Adam for four years, but Marsha and I always had our own relationship. In college, her house was my home-away-from-home — I slept, ate and played there. She welcomed me as one of the family. She and her husband would take us out to dinner; she and I would watch chick flicks together and go on long walks with the family dog. For Hanukkah, we would throw this big party for both of our families; Adam and I would make latkes, and it was a really fun.

It wasn’t enough to keep me and Adam together, but it *was* fun.

And of course for a long time, I did think that Adam and I would get married someday and that Marsha would be by mother-in-law. So breaking up had this whole other dimension — were Marsha and I just supposed to stop talking because Adam and I no longer got along?!?

When I met Joel a year-and-a-half ago, I was still grappling with it.

“My ex’s mom is still sad she won’t be my mother-in-law,” I said at the bar one night. (I had invited a crowd of people just so I could casually invite Joel, the cute new reporter.) But what I was really saying was, “I have an ex not a current.” (Joel swears that this is when his ears perked up.) I was also saying, “You should take me home to your mother. Moms love me.” And, lastly, I was saying, “I’m still a little sad my ex’s mother won’t be my mother-in-law.”

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Joel’s mother. She is a wonderful and giving person who raised a wonderful and giving son. She’s a great mother and mother-in-law. I just miss Marsha, that’s all.

You know how there is a mourning period after relationships (TIME OF RELATIONSHIP/2 = MOURNING PERIOD)? There should be a set period of mourning for leaving the family, too.

I mean, those were four good years we spent together, Marsha and I. We never fought. Not once. She once told me that her mother-in-law had been the best you could ask for. “We never fought,” she said. “Not once in 30 years.” I always thought that was a testament to Marsha. She’s just that kind of person — and I don’t have so many friends that I can just throw the good ones away. And Joel doesn’t mind.

He has, after all, known from the get-go. Besides, he’s not the kind of man who gets insecure, possessive and jealous — and that’s why I married him. Maybe I don’t have to mourn the relationship with my almost-mother-in-law because maybe our relationship doesn’t have to end. Maybe there’s room for all of us: Me, Joel, my mother-in-law and the woman I once thought would fill that role. At least I hope so.

It just takes a little explaining, that’s all. The shopkeeper at that adorable little boutique mistook me for Marsha’s daughter.

“Is that your daughter?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” Marsha said. “That’s my son’s ex-girlfriend who is now married to another man.”


See? Not so difficult.

NEXT WEEK: I cook dinner for friends — this time for real!!! Menu change-up: Macaroni & cheese, panko-crusted fish fillet and gooey brownies. Yummmmmm. 

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