‘Par­ent­hood has a habit of sur­pris­ing you’

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Real Lives -

His in­spi­ra­tional book about be­com­ing a sin­gle dad was turned into the hit film, Mum’s List. Wid­ower Singe Greene shares his family’s happy end­ing.

When I lost my wife, Kate, it felt like my world just stopped. The only way to de­scribe it is to imag­ine you’re on a sunny beach one minute, and the next the sky goes com­pletely dark. The grief was like be­ing hit by a mas­sive wave; you can’t breathe and, when you try to get back on your feet, you keep slip­ping un­der again. And yet, I had our two sons to look after, to con­sole, to an­swer when they asked when Mummy was com­ing back.

Since meet­ing Kate at a roller skat­ing rink at the age of 15, we’d been a team. Now I was on my own. Sin­gle Dad. It wasn’t the ex­pe­ri­ence of par­ent­hood I’d planned for, but I had to make it work.

Be­fore Kate died, she and I com­piled a list to­gether of all our hopes, dreams and plans for the boys and their fu­ture. It con­tained things like ‘cel­e­brate birth­days big-time’, ‘search for four-leaf clovers’, ‘kiss the boys twice ev­ery night – once from each of us’. In the af­ter­math of her death, this list is what kept me go­ing.

I had to be ever-present for my chil­dren, so I threw my­self into ev­ery part of their lives. I be­came chair of gover­nors at their school; I took them to all their clubs; we cel­e­brated their birth­days in ever-morelav­ish ways, just as Kate had asked. At week­ends, I’d take them div­ing, wa­ter­ski­ing or out on our boat. The three of us would of­ten walk along the beach near our home, look­ing up at the sky. We’d search for aero­plane trails – lit­tle puffs of cloud push­ing through the air. ‘There’s one,’ they’d say. ‘Mummy’s blow­ing us a kiss.’

I’m keen to make sure they have bal­ance, too, so they have chores to do dur­ing the week. They wash-up, do the vac­u­um­ing, and load the wash­ing ma­chine. And at the age of 12, Reef makes a mean spag bol. The hard­est note on Kate’s list was her re­quest that I find some­one else to love. For a long time, I felt bro­ken, and never thought I could. So no­body is more sur­prised than me that I have fallen in love again – with Lind­sey, who was help­ing out at the boys’ Scouts group. Now the boys and I live with her and her son, Alex, who’s 13. Go­ing from sin­gle dad to step­dad was an­other ad­just­ment, but it has been a happy one, and I love Alex as my own. Par­ent­hood has a habit of sur­pris­ing you. No fu­ture can ever be pre­dicted. But Reef and Finn are my world. They’re bits of me and Kate, and they amaze me ev­ery day. Ev­ery now and then, I’ll re­flect on the past few years and think, ‘You’ve done all right here.’ I’m stronger than I thought. I know Kate would be proud of the way our boys are grow­ing up. I cer­tainly am.

I had to be ever-present for my chil­dren and I threw my­self into ev­ery part of their lives

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