Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Loneliness of single parenting

SATURDAY, March 14 – Another old-fashioned crying jag.  This morning it was during a walk in the park. The dog seemed surprised that we were alone. Where were her playmates? I was conscious of the solitude and overwhelmed by the moment.

No doubt I was feeling the loneliness of caring for the boys on my own again. Yesterday I fired our au pair and, once again, I’m their sole caregiver.  It’s like taking a step backwards. She’d had no sense of responsibility for the boys, she’d fallen down on the job in various respects – serious and less serious; but, to the extent that I began to worry about the well-being of my children.

She spent the whole day glued to her laptop, asleep, or watching TV, had no idea what the boys were doing, couldn’t cook, and never once took the initiative when it came to the most elementary household chores. One afternoon she came home stoned when she was supposed to be taking care of the boys, in violation of our agreement.

She didn’t take proper care of herself, but what was even worse, she was never there for the boys when they needed an arm around their shoulder or a bit of extra help in the kitchen. She didn’t realize that we were managing quite well on our own, but expected the occasional sign of encouragement and support.

After a month and a half, I’d had quite enough of this litany of annoyances – the minor but rapidly accumulating mistakes – that made me wonder whether it was worth giving up our privacy. The latter has been restored, now that I’ve made the practical decision to dismiss her. This saddles me up with a serious logistical problem, but I’m not too worried about that. We’ll think of something. Two nights until Monday, departure day.

What does bother me is the realization that I’m totally on my own again. That’s probably why I briefly faltered during my morning walk. I’m distraught with fear, but at the same time I’m aware of a new strength, a greater self-confidence, and a conviction that this obstacle, too, can be surmounted.

The boys were surprised by the speed and the consequences of the decision. Relief was the dominant emotion. Eamonn raced around the house naked on his way to the shower. ‘Now we can do our naked dance again!’

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