The stand-up comedian wrote honestly about the ups and downs of parenting his 7-year-old daughter Alice, writing, “If I can persuade a comedy club full of indifferent drunks to like me, I can have my daughter ready for soccer on a Saturday morning.”
Oswalt, 47, has been open about the grief he feels about his wife’s death, but it’s palpable when he describes just what the crime writer’s absence means to him.
“It feels like a walk-on character is being asked to carry an epic film after the star has been wiped from the screen,” he reveals. “Imagine Frances McDormand dying in the first act of Fargo and her dim-bulb patrol partner — the one who can’t recognize dealer plates — has to bring William H. Macy to justice.”
He details the struggle of everyday life, getting up in the morning and facing the world without the presence of McNamara, who was the family’s “point person, researcher, planner, and expediter.”
“I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” he writes. “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.”
Oswalt writes that he tries to remind himself of how his journey to fatherhood began as a way of helping him cope with the challenge of parenting his daughter alone.
“But then I think back to when I became a father,” he writes. “I felt the same terror. And somehow I sort of half breathed in and clumsily took steps forward and I screwed up a lot of stuff — we screwed up a lot of stuff, Michelle and I — but eventually we got the hang of it. We had it. Or our version of ‘it.'”
The actor writes that he expects to eventually find his new version of “it,” even as he makes mistakes moving forward.
“This is my first time being a single father. I’ve missed forms for school,” he writes. “I’ve forgotten to stock the fridge with food she likes. I’ve run out of socks for her. I’ve run out of socks for me. It sucked and it was a hassle every time, but the world kept turning. I said, ‘Whoops, my bad,’ and fixed it and kept stumbling forward.”
“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.”