• We Greet 2017 With Words of Hope From This Widower and First-Time Dad

    He pledges to his daughter: "I'm going to keep moving forward. So I can be there with you if you need me."
    by Rachel Perez .
  • If you've seen the meme where a child asks his mom everything and then asks his dad "Where's mom?" we all laughed at how true it was in almost every household -- mom is just somewhere, probably at the supermarket or having her day at the spa, but she's always there. But what if mom was already taken from this world all too early?

    Such was the case of Patton Oswalt. His name might not automatically ring a bell, but he's an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor (he is in Marvel's Agents of Shield) and voice actor (he voiced Remy in Pixar's Ratatouille). In April 2016, Oswalt's wife, crime writer Michelle McNamara, the woman he described as "the single most original mind I'd ever encountered," died suddenly in her sleep at age 46. As devastating as his wife's death he was, he was more afraid of what was ahead: raising his now 7-year-old daughter Alice alone.

    In an essay entitled "The Year of Magical Parenting" for GQ Magazines's December 2016 issue, Oswalt wrote, "It feels like a walk-on character is being asked to carry an epic film after the star has been wiped from the screen." 

    It is a beautiful essay that is a must-read for a father or anyone really who is undergoing through a loss or a major change in life. Because if he -- a first-time dad raising a daughter on his own -- can do the most challenging job in the world, so can you. Here are some of our favorite lines in his essay that gives all of us hope, reassurance, and courage. 

    "You will never be prepared for anything you do, ever. Not the first time."

    Just like getting married for the first time or being pregnant for the first time, you can research all you want about it, but still, you cannot be fully prepared for the actual thing. "Training and practice are out the window the second they meet experience. But you'll get better," Oswalt wrote. Practice, perseverance, and hard work can help you cope.

    "I'm going to keep going forward, looking stupid and clumsy and inexperienced at first, then eventually getting it."

    There's no giving up. As long as you are able to move and think, you'll think of ways to smoothen up your screw-ups. There's no harm in asking for help, in you need it. There’s no room for pride when you only want what’s best for you child -- and that’s you. Believe in yourself. You'll adapt. You'll learn. "You'll get the hang of it," he added.

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    "If you're feeling any fear or self-doubt, reassure yourself with the fact that I'm doing this. Me."

    You are the best parent for your child, remember that. Oswalt pumps himself up, as any parent should. "I'm doing this. Being a father. I'm in charge of another human being. So you can do this. I promise." No one is perfect, but if you play up your strengths, you'll be fine. Granted, a father may not have the maternal instincts of a mom, but it’s possible to have a new normal.

    "I'm going to keep moving forward. So I can be there with you if you need me."

    That's Oswalt making a pledge to her daughter and honoring his wife's legacy. "When your mom died you're the best memory of her. Everything you do is a memory of her," Oswalt tweeted. "She's got so much of Michelle in her. And Michelle was living her life moving forward. And she took me forward with her. Just like I know Alice will," he added.

    Ultimately we, as parents, do the things we do, for our children -- not for other people, not for ourselves. Take a break if you must, but never forget that your child needs you, and so you must muster up the strength to move on and live for our loved ones who left us and for the loved ones we can still hold close to us when we need the hug. 

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