Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

woman trouble

It’s hard to imagine a two-year-old boy already experiencing problems with the opposite sex, but we are having some serious woman trouble.

My son, who has always been fiercely loyal to his mum, has taken a dislike to girls. To be slightly more specific he’s on a mission to alienate and attack any woman in her early to mid-thirties who comes within a ten metre radius of me.

Once again this presents me with questions that he is as yet unable to answer. Has he lost trust for the fairer sex because his mummy has gone away and can’t come back? Is he wearing his metaphorical ‘Team Desreen’ onesie to detract any significant female influence infiltrating our home? Have I forgotten to teach him that it’s not right for a boy to raise his hand or bare his teeth to a girl? Or am I simply overanalysing his every move?

For the record, I don’t think I am. On Saturday we met a lovely couple through some old friends. The husband was a really nice guy who immediately started playing with my son. They took to each other straightaway. The wife was equally warm. A mother herself, she knew the right buttons to press. Only my son didn’t want his touched. When a “Go away!” wouldn’t suffice he decided that the only way to show her how he felt was to crawl under the table and attack her foot. Naturally I pulled him away before he drew blood, but he looked enraged, just like five days earlier when he’d gone for her mate.

I ought to explain that my son is really rather a nice chap. He’s always had a bit of a temper and he doesn’t tend to leave company unsure of how he feels, but this battle of the sexes is something new. In fact, it’s been a notable shift. He used to pour affection on his mother and blame me for anything that went wrong. “No Daddy!” he’d say if one of his trains broke, blaming me even if I wasn’t in the room. I’d be the one that would receive a whack when something on his plate didn’t meet with his approval, even if his mum there was holding the spoon.

But that’s all changed now. I can do little wrong. He suddenly worships me and he’ll sing my name rather than shout. His maternal grandma’s out of luck though. While I’m becoming mum she’s becoming dad.

It’s her birthday tomorrow too so I’m off to town to buy her some boots. Those angry toddler teeth can play hell with an unprotected female ankle.

12 comments on “woman trouble

  1. Lisa
    January 29, 2013

    Hi, having followed your blog, I honestly think the way you are sharing all of your real, honest and raw feelings is an absolute act of courage. You have opened up enough to let anyone who may just have needed someone to just understand.
    In times of grief, we all want to find just about anyone who can share our pain and you have given everyone that chance. Thank you!

    Sharing our feelings isn’t always easy- but when you can it is one of the most soothing, heart healing things to do.

    It amazes me how children are born with an instinct to protect their hearts from pain, just like we as adults do. Your little boy is letting his feelings out, he is not afraid to show his emotion in public, this is a very good sign, as he is letting it all out. Let him (within reason) continue to ride the roller coaster of his emotions.

    He clearly trusts his daddy, that’s the most important thing. You will always have each other x

  2. Rosalind
    January 29, 2013

    Ahh..your litte boy certainly seems to have a strength of character. I’m mum to 2 little girls adopted at 10 months and 23 months. They also went through a huge different kind of loss. Our daughter who was 23 months old put up a big fight and would only go to Daddy at first. It broke my heart but I knew that she saw me as trying to replace her foster mum (which I was!). Little by little she began to trust me. and her strong negative emotion was a sign that she was capable of feeling strong positive emotions too. We are so close now. I think that your little boy is strong too. .Full marks for buying your MIL some boots, that’s the sign of a man who understands women!!! Good news for your boy :-) You are the one who will show him how to value women and I think you will do it well.

  3. Terri conceicao
    January 29, 2013

    I think it has nothing to do with your teaching but it could surface as a problem of being territorial and defensive against anyone that comes in between you and ur wife. He needs time and a lot of communication with you.
    For a child, such trauma could be a problem in later years uf you do not develope a deeper relationship with him. Do not loose hope to slowly introduce friends of the opposite gender.
    It took me years to not let my own traumatic childhood hold me at ransom. And i had to figure it out for myself.
    Be patience and hv faith. God Bless.

  4. modupe
    January 29, 2013

    You are so brave :)

  5. Rachel
    January 29, 2013

    So interesting and slightly painful to read too. Go with your instinct with your little guy on everything. My husband died suddenly overnight when my children were 6 and 15 months. You will get through. And you will be so proud of him.

  6. Simon Hancox
    January 29, 2013

    Great stuff chap, moving, poignant, meaningful, funny, and lots of learning for all. Keep it up mate

  7. Marie
    January 30, 2013

    You are very brave indeed, an excellent story-teller and a you sound like a very good man. Your son is very lucky to have a dad like you. x

  8. Martin
    January 30, 2013

    That is interesting about your son because Nathan (who seems to be 3 months younger) has just emerged from a 2-week no-daddy-no period where he’d wake up asking for me, only to shoo me from the room the moment I arrived.

    My wife’s started flying round the world on business trips and the day she left last week for her first 4-days overseas was the day Nathan just snapped out of it and has been super-cooperative and fun with me ever since.

    Perhaps Jackson’s behavior is also related to his age?

  9. Julia
    January 31, 2013

    This is the age when children understand how their family is made up and their relationship with each of them. They somehow know who is mummy and who is daddy and who is brother and sister, etc.. change one of these ‘constants’ in their lives and they don’t yet have the capacity to understand why it happened, only that it has changed profoundly what they thought of as a certainty. Some children will direct their frustrations inward, and others, outward.

    I think you hit the nail on the head, mummy has gone, and now all females represent the possibility of that happening again.

    I was given up by my parents, to my godparents before the age of 1 year. Around the age of 2, my maternal grandmother received custody. I clearly remember the day she picked me up. I’d been playing on the floor of the kitchen and my ‘mum’ (godmother) came in to fetch me. I reached my arms up to her and she picked me up and held me before carrying me outside and handing me to my grandmother.

    I clearly remember the look on my ‘mum’s’ face, those on my ‘brother and sister’ (their children) and reached back for her. Then I howled, and then everything is black with no memories for some months. What I do remember after that is wondering when would my mum and brother and sister come back for me. Where did they go? I definitely experienced grief and feeling abandoned, and my grandmother never felt the need to really explain what had happened. I carried that feeling of loss through my childhood and had to figure things out on my own.

    At a later age than your son, it was typical of me to ignore people who I was introduced to, I simply did not want to know them. A coping mechanism, perhaps,
    self-preservation. I did not want to be open to being abandoned again. Trust, it can be an issue for an entire life, as I’ve experienced.. even if you don’t feel your son understands everything.. I think creating a narrative that expresses to him the story without scary details while he’s young, that you can repeat it with him and let him think it over. He will ask questions as he needs to. It’s important to reassure him that mummy didn’t leave because of him, and that she loved him. Ask him how he feels when he’s acting out and perhaps he’ll spontaneously tell you when he’s ready. Just put it out there for him, he will mull it over, and share his thoughts when he becomes more verbal. I’m willing to bet he understands far more than his verbal abilities allow him to tell, but emotional understanding is there, even if he doesn’t know how to express it constructively.

    Thank you for such open and poignant words and a space to share.

  10. Naomi
    February 1, 2013

    My 2 year old (also Jackson!) is/has been going through a hitting/biting/attacking phase which seems to be a pretty normal 2 year old way of dealing with big emotions. They just don’t have that many tools in their box yet for doing so, and I guess your little man is dealing with some very big emotions right now. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things though.

  11. Karen
    February 4, 2013

    Hi, My daughter who is four (five in March) found Steve my husband, her daddy dead in the garden 24th August 2012. She is doing well, but to make sure i had a chat and f2f meeting with SeeSaw last Friday, they agreed i am doing/handling things in the right way for her age.

    My point of this is my daughter is the opposite to your son, she was always a mummies girl and always chose me over daddy. Yesterday morning she climbed into bed with me and gave me a cuddle and we told each other we loved each other, then she told me she loves daddy best.

    I am not hurt by this but it did make me “look up” simle and think in my head, “there you go Steve, you are now her favourite, shame you had to die to be…….”

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