I t was the day of my daughter Gitty’s sixth birthday. She was going to be having a party in her first-grade class, and the morah had called me to make sure that I could be there at 12.

Gitty left the house that morning proudly toting her bag full of pekalach. “Mommy, you’re coming to my party, right?” she asked when the car pool came to pick her up.

“Of course, darling,” I assured her.

In the meantime, I went out to do some errands. My last stop was in a department store, where I needed to return something. When I glanced at my watch after taking care of the return, it was 11 o’clock — too late to go back home, and too early to head over to the school. So I decided to walk around the department store for half an hour.

I browsed through the clothing department, the housewares department, the outdoors department, but I barely noticed what I was seeing. Instead, my mind automatically wandered to all the stresses in my life.

I was a divorced mother of seven children ranging in age from 6 to 22. I received minimal child support, only $400 a month. Never having worked before my divorce, I had no profession and no income. We lived mostly off tzedakah from the community. My oldest, Suri, was engaged, and how I was going to pay for the wedding, I had no idea.

Adding to the stress was my concern over my mother, who had suffered a stroke just a few weeks earlier. And it was three weeks before Pesach.

So absorbed was I in thinking about my problems that I completely forgot about Gitty’s birthday party. And I didn’t have a cell phone.

When I walked into the house at 12:45, I heard the phone ringing incessantly. It was Gitty’s morah on the line.

“What happened?” she asked. “Is everything okay? We’ve been calling and calling!”

I raced over to the preschool, where the morah was kind enough to hold an abbreviated birthday ceremony after lunch in honor of my delayed arrival.

When I returned home, utterly mortified, I put up supper on the stove and then retreated to my room, where I dissolved into tears.

“Ribbono shel Olam,” I cried, “I understand that You’ve given me this nisayon, and that it’s Your Will that things should be difficult for me right now. But one thing I don’t accept is that I’m so stressed out that I’ve forgotten how to be a mother!”

As the children came home, they each knocked on my bedroom door and asked what was wrong.

“Just leave me alone,” I groaned. “There’s food on the stove, help yourself.”

Suri, the kallah, came home last. When she knocked on my door, I finally opened it.

“I crossed a red line today,” I told her, sniffling. “If I forgot Gitty’s birthday party, it means I’m totally not managing.”

“Come on, Mommy,” she encouraged me. “You always told us to just put one foot in front of the other.”

“You’re right,” I said, as I plastered a smile on my face and emerged from my room. But inside, my heart was breaking. Ribbono shel Olam, I can’t cope like this anymore. I need a yeshuah!

Three days later, I got a call from my rav, Rabbi Gerlow. “Asher Ruban wants to meet you,” he said.

In the five years since my divorce, I had never had a single date. No one wanted to take on a woman with seven children and almost no child support. This was the first time anyone had agreed to go out with me. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 691)