**Challenges of Solo Parenting: The Struggle Behind the Brave Facade**

There is a particular scene in the movie About a Boy where single parents congregate in a run-down church hall, chanting the phrase “single parents alone together.” I recall watching that film and experiencing a sense of condescending sorrow for the group of individuals with their chunky-knitted attire and solitary responsibilities.

Fast forward to the present, and I find myself in a similar situation – a member of the SPAT community (Single Parents Alone Together). While I don’t participate in support circles with fellow single parents, I am the sole caretaker of two young girls during my designated weeks. This entails shouldering the financial, administrative, and emotional aspects of parenting alone, providing a complete parental experience without a partner.

There are no moments of “darling, can you just…” as I juggle tasks like getting one child ready for a bath, assisting the other with algebra, all while meeting work deadlines. There’s no one else to swiftly prepare dinner for the kids while I troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues or frantically search for the one specific school skirt my youngest insists on wearing despite having other options readily available. It’s solely up to me to ensure that my children feel supported and cared for while also securing our financial stability. On these weeks of sole responsibility, there is no break. Despite maintaining a facade of composure at the school gates and work, the weight of the responsibilities hits hard as I reminisce about when the load used to be shared.

Before delving into comments, it’s important to note that this is not a plea for sympathy. I acknowledge that I am in a privileged position. However, with my parents residing hours away and limited access to flexible childcare, I often feel like a solitary figure in parenthood. The duties of homework assistance, school paperwork, and overall parental obligations rest solely on my shoulders. The transition from a partnership to single parenthood has been more challenging than anticipated, especially with the demands of a full-time job and irregular hours.

One recent challenge that has added to the strain is my daughters’ sibling rivalry. While I manage the routine parental tasks efficiently, such as school drop-offs, pickups, homework supervision, extracurricular activities, meals, baths, and bedtime stories, any deviation from mediating their conflicts can lead to chaos.

I vividly recall a moment of near exasperation when my daughters were quarreling over an old toothbrush that neither had used in months. In the midst of muting a work call and locating my eldest’s favorite Minecraft T-shirt, I inadvertently exclaimed, “if you don’t stop fighting, I’m going to lose my temperature.” Their laughter at my verbal slip highlighted the lack of parental control in that moment.

Despite the challenges and occasional moments of feeling overwhelmed, there are instances of beauty in the mundane routine. The shared experiences of reaching breaking points and having heartfelt conversations on the floor help strengthen our bond. While there used to be another adult present to offer opinions on parenting decisions, I now navigate these moments solo, learning to repair relationships and encourage my children to do the same.

During moments of solitude and reflection, I glance at a small tattoo on my inner wrist depicting three stick figures – symbolizing me and my daughters, each at a different stage of life. Another tattoo of a simple triangle on my chest serves as a reminder to find joy amidst life’s complexities. We are a trio navigating through challenges together, sharing DNA and striving to find balance amid daily chaos.

However, there is an aspect of post-divorce life that often goes unmentioned – the quiet moments after the children are asleep, lunches are packed, and the house is settled. The absence of shared evening routines and companionship becomes palpable, leading to introspective moments and a longing for connection. It is during these late hours that the reality of solitude sets in, underscoring the need for support and understanding within the SPAT community.