Thursday, 6 March 2008

When The Grapevine Just Grows Grapes

I’ve often found it difficult to explain my situation, especially to people I’ve only just met.

It isn’t easy to spin “I’m a widower,” in a positive manner.

I’ve tried many different lines, the harsh and soft approach, but either way it never sounds good, and brings about a lot of different reactions.

One perceived advantage to a village, with a nosier network than that of a built-up suburban zone, was that I wouldn’t need to explain my situation to many. My news would simply spread.

That doesn’t seem to have panned out.

As I actually want people to spread this information, I guess it goes against the very grain of a good gossip, and as such doesn’t get proliferated liberally.

Recently I was asked at a small playgroup we’ve been attending since September, what my wife does. I had previously told a few of the dozen or so parents that go to that group, and they all link together or know each other, yet still my news seems a bit of a secret.

Last week my lovely sister was mistaken for Max’s Mom in the queue for the nursery.

“We don’t get to see Max’s Mommy very much.” Sadly neither do we. See, it sounds horrible doesn’t it?

I don’t want sympathy, I don’t want people to look at us, particularly Max, with sad eyes, I just want to people around us to feel comfortable. And to involve us as much as they would any 2.4 picture perfect family.

We don’t need allowances, we are grateful for what we have – many are in a much worse position than us. We would be grateful if people talked about us a bit, without making our situation a taboo subject, which it really isn’t.

I'm comfortable talking about any aspect of my, or our, life, but it's easier if the other party already knows the basics. Share/Save/Bookmark


Violet said...

You're probably just going to have to put up with it. It's an automatic reaction to "Actually, I'm a widower", with "Oh, I'm sorry". What other (appropriate-ish) reply could the other person possibly give?

Single Parent Dad said...

You're right Violet. I can't see it changing. But my point is that I'd rather that I didn't necessarily need to break the news. It's much easier to talk about it when people already know. And they don't get put in that horrible position too.

Roads said...

My heart goes out to you as I read this post, and the (somewhat insensitive, surely) comment following.

The things people say are just incredible.

Even now, ten years on, people who I think should know by now, do get mixed up when they learn that the older two children have a different mother from my third.

'So then, do you get to see them at weekends?' Well, er, not exactly, you see... and off we go again.

But that is as nothing compared to the comments I heard to the children (and doubtless many thousands more that I didn't hear) when they were small.

'Hello, young lad! Where's your Mum today, then? Is she at work?'

'No. My Mummy's in Heaven.'

Cue silence, and long sound of waiting for the ground to open up.

The other important thing I learned, and which perhaps you are beginning to touch on here, is that mothers in the playground can be very exclusive and snotty to single dads.

I'm not sure why that is, but that's simply how they are. No matter what I did, I just never felt completely accepted into that environment. Perhaps it was my fault, since I wasn't always there and my nanny went to the school gates more than I did then.

But when I did turn up to coffee mornings and school open days, as I often did, did they really need to spend half an hour discussing vaginal stitches without ever pausing to stop for breath?

And the answer is, that yes it seems they did. Spirits up, and all best wishes to you.

Single Parent Dad said...

Thank you Roads.

I suppose people do genuinely forget and not really know what impact the death of a parent has.

Children say what's in their heads, and don't really fear interpretation. I just hope Max is strong enough to deal with it. He already points to his heart when anyone asks where his mommy is.

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