By Guest Blogger Rob Ainbinder
When my wife passed away on August 22, 2019, from Glioblastoma multiforme (a fancy name for brain cancer), my life and my daughter’s were changed forever. We were no longer an intact, two-parent family with one child. I was, with some advanced notice in the form of my late wife’s terminal diagnosis, parenting alone. This was something very different from what I had envisioned: sharing holidays together, celebrating milestones like graduation and birthdays, growing old, retiring, playing with a grandkid or maybe two.
Parenting alone didn’t come naturally to me, it was like learning to parent all over again in many ways. You become even more self-reliant reaching out to friends and family where you once had someone by your side to walk through all of this. Luckily, through my work supporting Angela and my work as a marketer, I helped establish several Dad Only groups for Life of Dad. These groups and more specifically the volunteers that run them are a fantastic source of support, ideas, and encouragement. From time to time, I see that encouragement in these groups is one of the best things we can do to support each other.
Parenting alone isn’t like single parenting. In single parenting the other parent, no matter how good or, awful the circumstances of separation or divorce are, they are still somewhere out there. And may share custody, help with kids and expenses. When parenting alone, the other parent is completely gone. Not available to talk about even the most mundane things, share custody, make alimony payments, or anything. They are just gone. And that has been one of the biggest changes.
The other things that have changed? There’s no adult to share budgeting, cooking, laundry, or housekeeping. Even a simple thing like dealing with a dropping a car off for service becomes an ordeal involving people who don’t mind but, you really don’t want to impose upon. It’s just the fact of dealing without the built-in support I used to have. I adjusted to many of these things as Angela’s cancer progressed and didn’t allow her to walk around the house and help like she did for the 22 years we were together. Now that she’s gone, I have to admit that her declining health was a sort of forced boot camp for anything I wasn’t handling. In so much of life we used to share so much, I am now flying mostly solo.
In this process of learning to parent alone, I got a real appreciation for what my Mom went through raising my brother and me as a single parent. And to single parents in general, I have a deeper appreciation for what you do to keep the new to you single parent family unit running.
I have learned that we really only have now. That yesterday is done and tomorrow is not guaranteed or worth worrying about. So, I focus very intently on the now. It takes effort and energy but the reward is a clarity that I didn’t understand before.
Rob is a Dad, widower, creator, writer, entrepreneur, blogger, and male influencer. Rob is also the author of the books “Mastering Google Keep” and “Pitmaster’s Log Book“ – and he is currently working on another book about his newfound journey as a single Dad. For updates on his book projects, sign up for his newslettter on his blog Digital Dad. When not online, he can be found tackling home improvement projects, crafting Barbeque, spending time with his family and cheering on his beloved New England Patriots.
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A very heartfelt blog filled with truth and reality I should say dear Rob. Your blog gave us readers a great insight into the practical difficulties and the differentiation between a single parent and parenting alone through your personal experience and is greatly appreciated. Thank you for also sharing how the whole world turns into a different place when one partner is completely lost from this world and what a disease like cancer can teach not just the one suffering but also the close ones.
Thank you Andrea. I appreciate your comments.
Very well written Rob. My sons were 4 and 7 when their mother left 30 yrs ago, never to return yet forever”somewhere out there”. Just know that whatever you do for your daughter, it will be much more than just enough and that she appreciates you more than you can ever imagine!
Thanks very much. I try to do everything I can for my daughter. She’s amazing.
I lost my husband to Glioblastoma 4 years ago (amazing how I keep finding more and more people who have lost someone to GBM) when my kids were in 3rd and 4th grade. I can totally relate to the difficulty of little things like dropping a car off at the shop or even making sure I can get both kids to different activities on the same night. It is so tough when the kids hit those big milestones that he is not here for or when I hit those tough “parent of middle schooler moments” and I have no backup. Step by step, day by day, year by year. Thank you for sharing your experience.
It is staggering the number of GBM cases I now “see”. There are so many moments that I just hope my late wife will somehow know about going forward for my daughter.
You are so righ when you say, step by sy, year by year. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Ugh. All the feels, my dear friend! Having been there before, during, and after I am so proud of all that you have done. You endured so much these past few years and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone but you have really done an amazing job with such a crappy deal of the cards. Much love to you and Nat 🙂
Thanks so very much, my good friend! I know you have dealt with your own losses and you have done an equally amazing job.
This is beautifully written, Rob. I am sorry for your loss but have faith that your wife would be very proud of you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you very.