Patton Oswalt Offers Advice on Being a Single Father: ‘You Will Never Be Prepared for Anything You Do, Ever

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Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Following the death of his true-crime-author wife Michelle McNamara, comedian Patton Oswalt has been publicly processing the horror and disbelief one feels upon losing a spouse across a variety of media. According to his new GQ essay, the biggest shock comes when you realize you still have to get your kid in a clean pair of socks in the morning, and every morning after that, without a partner. “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” Oswalt recalls thinking, when faced with the prospect of raising his kid alone. “I want to tune out the world and hide under the covers and never leave my house again and send our daughter, Alice, off to live with her cousins in Chicago, because they won’t screw her up the way I know I will. Somebody help me! I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

After walking through the mad scramble of parenting times-two (remembering forms you didn’t know existed, doing laundry, buying food so no one starves, etc.), Oswalt takes solace in the fact that while looking like a fumbling buffoon is guaranteed, paralysis is simply not an option when you have a 7-year-old to raise. So, don’t stress your parental bumbling. “I’m going to keep going forward, looking stupid and clumsy and inexperienced at first, then eventually getting it, until the next jolt comes, and the next floor drops out from under me, until there are no more floors,” he writes. Concludes Oswalt: “I’m moving forward — clumsily, stupidly, blindly — because of the kind of person Alice is. She’s got so much of Michelle in her. And Michelle was living her life moving forward. And she took me forward with her. Just like I know Alice will. So I’m going to keep moving forward. So I can be there with you if you need me, Alice.”

Patton Oswalt Reflects on Being a Single Father