How hard could it be to raise a child alone? Plenty of women do it on their own and they do it well! They usually do without much praise too, society just accepts women for picking up the pieces and just ‘getting on with it’. However, turn the gender round and a male single parent becomes a ‘Brave superhero’.
Soon after people heard my story I would get this a lot. As nice as it would sound on the ears, I never really agreed with the praise. Sometimes I would feel like I was being pitied, out of all my feelings I really didn’t want that. I would often feel insulted when people would praise me. I wanted to give all of this praise to the vast amounts of brave single parent women around the world – each doing an amazing job and not being recognised. I felt both men and woman in this scenario should get an equal commendation. Not just me, for being a man. I’m just doing what any decent parent would do for their baby.
At the beginning of my widowhood, I would observe so much in other parents. I encountered lots of men and women who didn’t have any confidence in their poise as a moral parent. Being a very hypersensitive widower at the time – It really bothered me.
A classic example of this would be the standard social media status we’ve all witnessed. They go something like this…
“AAAAAH HELP, I’m a single mummy this week, Matthew is away with work, send me wine and wishes”
From where I was stood, my internal monologue would spout “WOW! So, being alone to care for your child has created a short-term predicament. Whilst your husband is away doing his job to financially support your family”.
They just don’t get it.
‘It’ meaning how lucky they are for having a living and breathing spouse. For their child to have both, Mum and Dad. It was moments like these that would make me feel uncomfortable for other people. At the beginning I was harsh on people, this was just how I repressed my grief and released my emotions. I was a grieving man in shock who didn’t know how to grieve properly. A man who didn’t know how to adapt to this life in hell. I was so judgemental on people for taking everything for granted and for presuming too much about me.
I used to love making random people feel uncomfortable. Back when I was off work I would attend NCT (National Childbirth Trust) daytime events with Margot. I’d always be the token male in each meetup. As we’d all warm up with the hello’s, the small talk would commence. Being this lone male figure in an all-female cast. All the women would flock around me and say things like “are you a stay at home dad?” or “have you taken a day off work to be with your baby”. I’d casually reply “no”, they would then follow up with a question about her mother, I would then drop the concise “She’s dead” bomb and watch them pick their own indecorous jaws off the floor. Cruel, I know.
It wasn’t the lessons of time and widower wisdom that brought me to be more understanding. It was my daughter that carved me into the person I am now. The biggest lesson Margot taught me was not to focus too much on the past or the future. She lives so much in the present. She deals with her emotions and thoughts – in the moment – unless it’s going to affect her in the next few hours, it’s been dealt with and she moves onto the next thing. I had never ever lived like this in my old life. As time has gone on since we lost Katherine, this small human has taught me so much about living in the now and not to worry about what if’s, could be’s, and especially what other parents are doing and thinking.
Of course, I’m different now. If you’ve followed my posts, you’ll know how much I’ve discovered in accepting my grief and how I’ve reinvented myself around it. The biggest part of my influence is my daughter. At the tender of age of two, she has given me a lot of good life lessons. It’s not something you’d contemplate, but she has taught me so much about this new life.
I’m now more gentle, more kind hearted and less judgemental of others.