I was idly browsing my Facebook page in between dishwashing jags when I saw the familiar-but-ironic little heart next to one of my relative's status updates. "___ is single," it read. Though I've always considered her a favorite family member, we don't spend much time together outside of Facebook, and I only met her husband once or twice; I had no idea things were rocky between them, and now his absence at more recent family gatherings looms large.
Only the latest in a recent spate of relationship status changes, it seems to be the vogue among friends and family and people I barely know to "like" such declarations of independence. I've seen situations in which the singleness was quickly reversed (a regreted overly-public blowup after a bitter, alcohol-fueled argument perhaps?) and these make the "liking" even more piercing than it is, in the most straightforward of situations. I can't find myself to "like" anyone's singleness, even if the relationship was especially tortured and obviously a bad one from the start. It seems too much schadenfreude, even if the one on the other end of the sudden singleness was terribly unkind to someone you love.
My relative's status was liked by someone else I like and whose judgment I respect, and I think the generally-accepted Facebook subtext for this is, "the marriage was bad for you." But, as with so many Facebook singles recently, little children resulted from this star-crossed entanglement. I know a bit of what it's like to be a single parent (though all my single-ness is temporary); I know what it's like to have a marriage-with-kids that is rocky. As is often the case with my rawly-single Facebook friends, I want to reach out. I want to act in support of this fellow mama, when things are obviously hard.
But: I never know what to say. I don't want to "like" it, I don't know if public comment under the status update is a better or far worse option. (And what, then, if there's a reverse?) It's so easy to get Facebook grant you a permanent separation. It's a lot harder, slower and more tortuous to do so legally; if one wishes to celebrate singleness, I think to myself, the end of that process is the time to do it.
I know lots of mamas who read this blog have gone single on Facebook, and have gone through the months- or years-long legal process following that social media break. I know others who have watched friends go through it, or go through the up-and-down of argument, separation, reunion, separation, divorce. What is the best approach? Speak publicly now, email, phone, pray? Or simply wait until... what? If you've liked, or been liked, in situations like this: what resulted? What advice do you have, now?