*Photo credit: GQ.com
2016 was a year like none other for actor and comedian Patton Oswalt. In April, his wife Michelle McNamara passed away unexpectedly in her sleep, leaving Oswalt to navigate a foreign world of raising his 7-year-old daughter as a single parent. Nothing could have prepared him for such an enormous undertaking, but in an essay he wrote recently for GQ, Oswalt shares how he keeps pushing himself forward and that being a dad is the only job that matters.
Oswalt reflects on how he and his wife were an amazing team, both with their own unique parenting style that balanced each other in raising their daughter. After that partnership was gone, Oswalt was terrified of screwing up as a single father and felt a constant dread of “I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” running through his mind. He had never raised a child alone, and it was something he hadn’t anticipated having to do.
This terror of the unknown made Oswalt think back to other significant events in his life including becoming a husband and becoming a father. He hadn’t prepared or trained to be someone’s spouse or to raise a child, but he learned along the way. Sure he messed up at times, but Oswalt learned what worked and he got the hang of it. This helped him realize that raising his daughter as a single father wouldn’t be impossible; it was another life-changing adventure he would have to learn to master along the way,
“You will never be prepared for anything you do, ever. Not the first time. Training and practice are out the window the second they meet experience. But you’ll get better. I have subjective yet ironclad knowledge of this.”
Helping a person along the road from childhood to adulthood is both a rewarding and challenging task. If you’re a parent, you know that children don’t come with a handbook. Unexpected twists, detours and even tragedies (such as Patton Oswalt’s loss of his wife) can make parenting all the more difficult and self-care all the more important. But while there’s no simple guide, there are many time-tested skills that every parent can benefit from learning. Get some helpful tips from our 12-part parenting blog series!