‘Parenthood has a habit of surprising you’
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