sex diaries

The Single Mom Rekindling Things With Her Ex in Isolation

Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher

This week, a mom goes on FaceTime dates while her ex-husband does schoolwork with the kids: 41, divorced, Tribeca.


5:45 a.m. It’s my first day with both my kids at home, and oh yeah, it starts early. I have a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old boy. I’m divorced from their dad, who lives a few blocks away. As of now, he’s still going into work, and everything will fall on me. Nothing new about that. As for my work, I’m launching a self-care website and consider myself an entrepreneur, but there’s no doubt that all-day teaching and parenting will fall on me from today until … who knows. Everything else will have to be put on hold.

8 a.m. While my kids play by themselves in their room, I swipe through Tinder and Bumble. One guy asks if I want to sit six feet away from each other and have tea. It’s a charming idea, but I have to really like someone to make time for him right now. This guy doesn’t make the cut.

2 p.m. I’m supposed to have a date with a therapist later today. He invited me to his office (!) for the date since he’s got clients all day. Most women would think that’s weird, but I love therapy, and I love anything self-help-related, and I’m a little woo-woo in that way, so I actually love the idea of sitting in his therapist office having a little date. I told him I’d bring him a coffee. Kind of cute, right?

3 p.m. The therapist canceled. His workday is too hard. It’s a bummer, but my head is spinning from the kids, and I don’t have the bandwidth for much more today anyway.

7 p.m. My ex is over for dinner. Normally, he sees the kids one night during the school week and a lot over the weekend. I have very low expectations for him. Aside from being a great provider, and a pretty good dad, he’s let me down in many ways. He can be very emotionally distant, and he’s not particularly nice to me.

8:30 p.m. All anyone can talk about is coronavirus and what’s to come. My ex-husband is going to wrap up at his office tomorrow and start working from home. I assume he won’t help much, but it’s a slight relief knowing I won’t be 100 percent alone with the kids. Today was crazy hard.


5:45 a.m. At this point, I’ve accepted that this is when I wake up. It’s been about six years of no sleep. Half of those years, I was up all night crying about the collapse of my marriage. I’m really ready to find happiness and stability again.

7 a.m. I’m shocked that my ex-husband is here to start the day with us. He made everyone breakfast and is talking to the kids about their learning schedule for the day. The one good thing about setting the bar so low for him is that when he rises up to the occasion, I’m pleasantly surprised.

8 a.m. I text the therapist to see if he wants to reschedule. I think he’s going to ghost me. Men without kids are very quick to dismiss women with kids. I have to work twice as hard to prove to someone that I’m half as cool as their other prospects.

2 p.m. My ex-husband is doing Spanish class with the kids. He speaks high-school level Spanish, but I’m still enjoying the effort he’s putting into it. I take this moment to lie in bed and look at social media. Things are scary out there. Everything is being shut down and canceled. There’s a lot of dread. I get a message from a really hot smart guy on Tinder. His profile is too good to be true. He said he splits his time between Brooklyn and Africa because he’s a doctor and is building hospitals over there. I have a little bit of a doctor fetish. We continue texting while I “rest” in my bedroom with the door closed, but then we get interrupted because one of my sons is having a fit about who knows what.

8 p.m. My ex-husband has been here most of the day. It’s really nice. He’s been so present. We open a bottle of wine as we clean up dinner. For a brief moment, I wonder if we should give it another shot, but then I tell myself, “No way.” He really hurt me, and he really messed up our lives. I can’t ever fully forgive him for that, and I respect myself way too much to risk the pain again. He’s always said he would get back together in a heartbeat. He says it almost every day. But he’s never done the work to make himself a better man. He’s never really changed in hard, challenging, transformative, or self-reflective ways. Aside from fluke days like today, I have no evidence to suggest he would be a better partner.

10 p.m. I lie in bed texting with the doctor. I’m enjoying our conversation and flirtation. He asks if I want to come to his apartment tomorrow for a “socially distanced” glass of wine. I tell him that I’ll need his last name first. He won’t tell me; he says he’s too high profile. And then he gets angry and aggressive about it. His energy freaks me out, so I end the conversation and block him.


9 a.m. The line at Trader Joe’s was down the street. Everyone I know has their kids at home. Our entire schedule has been canceled indefinitely. I was supposed to take the kids away for spring break next week, so I’ll have to spend all morning trying to get refunded for that while keeping my kids occupied in some productive way.

10 a.m. Knock, knock. It’s my ex. He’s back to help for the day. It’s shocking that he’s been this supportive. I go into my bedroom to fight the airlines and the resort. It’s a shitty task, but less shitty than hanging out with my boys right now!

11 a.m. I scroll through Tinder. About 60 percent of the profiles have changed to reflect coronavirus. The guys reaching out to me are asking to meet up for walks, six feet away, or virtual cocktails. My best friend says nothing sounds worse than a virtual cocktail, but I think it’s kind of romantic. As a single dating mom, it’s kind of more productive to have a quick virtual date than go through the whole ordeal of getting a babysitter and going out and then quickly realizing none of it was worth it the minute you see him.

4 p.m. We decide to do a make-your-own-pizza cooking class as a family. I run to Trader Joe’s to get some ingredients. There are so many people, and the mood is so weird. I am prone to anxiety, so I try to just focus on the ingredients and keep breathing.

7 p.m. Again, my ex and I drink a little wine while wrapping up the day. And again, I look at him and wonder … Could I? Should I? He knows he’s been a good guy right now. He knows how much it means to me. There’s something manipulative about what he’s doing, but I’m not going to have dark feelings. I’m not going to let the river of rage start flowing. I’m just going to be grateful that he’s here for us right now.

10 p.m. I’m so tired I can’t speak, move, think, or swipe.


9 a.m. We are on full lockdown. I’m not allowing playdates, and I’m going to limit errands and grocery shopping for myself. It’s my social responsibility. I’m not political and I’m not self-righteous, but I have to say, people who are still socializing are total fucking assholes.

12:30 p.m. It’s happening: I’m having a virtual lunch date. The kids are at my ex’s apartment. The guy, Rob, suggested we each make our favorite sandwich and then FaceTime. My friends think this is the cheesiest idea on earth, but I’m into it! I have limited supplies, so I make myself a grilled cheese with potato chips on the side. I make a mental note: Don’t chomp on the chips during the date! And then I wait for him to FaceTime. It rings. He’s there. He’s cute, and he’s made himself a turkey sandwich. Unfortunately, he’s got a high voice. It’s actually kind of squeaky. I can’t with the voice … but it’s a fun break from my day.

8 p.m. My ex looks at me and says, “You’re my rock.” He used to never say things like that. I got very little respect from him when we were married. We’re in such a great place right now. And he looks so good. I promise myself I won’t sleep with him tonight.

9 p.m. I keep my promise.


9 a.m. It’s the weekend, which means my parents come in from New Jersey to help for a few hours. There’s nowhere to go, so I decide to lie in bed all day.

12 p.m. I’m feeling lonely. It’s such a cliché, but during this scary time, it would be nice to have someone to hold me.

5 p.m. I slept and relaxed and caught up with my family and friends on the phone.

8 p.m. My kids are asleep, so I get back into my bed. This time with my vibrator. I’m usually too tired to use it, but I had a lot of rest today.


8 a.m. My ex has decided to take us all to an empty beach near the Rockaways. He thinks it’s okay to do this if there’s no one on the beach. I pack up some snacks. Everything feels so “normal.” It reminds me of life before coronavirus, and it reminds me of life before my divorce. I love it.

12 p.m. While the boys run around, my ex and I really talk. We say how this week helped us develop a deeper friendship, and helped us learn to respect each other more. I think he saw how hard my days really are. He “gets” it — at least more than he did before. I take his hand, and we walk down the beach while watching our kids play in the cold air.

9 p.m. I have another virtual date tonight. I could get into this! This guy, Ethan, is a single dad who lives nearby. When he FaceTimes me, I feel chemistry. I like his voice. I’m not sure if he’s short or tall because he’s sitting at his kitchen table. When he gets up to refill his wine glass, he looks about average in height, which is fine. We talk about our former marriages and about our kids. It’s great to connect with someone who’s sort of in the same boat. We decide to have another cocktail “together” tomorrow.


5:45 a.m. Another school week at home. I can’t believe this might go on for months. I feel so sad for everyone losing their jobs. It’s so depressing. I’m glad I’m only prone to anxiety, not depression, because this would be a hard time to struggle with that.

8 a.m. My ex is here with work books and flash cards. He ordered some things on Amazon. Again, I can’t believe how engaged he is. Is this our new normal?

11:30 a.m. During some down time with the boys, I tell my ex that I had a virtual date last night. I shouldn’t have told him, but I wanted a reaction. He looks hurt and quickly tells me he doesn’t want to hear any more. What hypocrisy … he used to flirt with women all the time when we were married, and here I am doing something so innocent. Still, I feel bad ruining our happy momentum and for trying to provoke him. I apologize for being insensitive, and we move on.

6 p.m. Ethan texts that he’d like to change our virtual cocktail to a virtual dinner, so that we can have more time to talk. I ate dinner already, but don’t tell him that. “Sure!” I write back. I’m looking forward to his company.

9 p.m. We had a great virtual dinner date. He made me laugh a lot. I wonder what will happen if we end up liking each other. Will there ever be a way to meet him in real life? Will we ever have a first kiss? The good thing about dating with kids is there’s no time to really fixate on any guy, or get carried away in fantasy or anticipation. So we’ll just see what happens.

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The Single Mom Rekindling Things With Her Ex in Isolation