I’m only just realising how lonely sole-parenting can be. Is. Will be.

Almost purple rose, north Brisbane, August 2012
“A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world.” — Leo F. Buscaglia

One of the perks of living with a partner is that you can indulge yourself when you’re low on energy. You can throw a little tantrum — stalk away in a huff, drive off for some retail therapy, retreat with a book or self-medicate with a bottle or two. Your partner will have your back, pick up the slack and look after the children until you’re re-energised to once more enter the fray.

I don’t have that luxury any more. I simply can’t afford to lose control of myself. There is no one to look after me or look after the girls if I feel like even just walking away for some time to myself.

It’s when I’m at home that the void yawns menacingly. The chasm of loneliness and despair is never far from my feet, although I have four other, little travellers on my path who hold my hand to keep me from tripping over the edge.

When visiting friends, I’m unlikely to need that time to myself because I’m revelling in the adult conversation that’s on offer. I need a partner most when I’m by myself — the new catch-22 that other single parents have probably struggled with for millennia. So I can’t schedule in a friendly babysitter when I need one most, although I’m currently cheering myself up with the thought that I’ll see my dad next week.

We had an outing today — meeting an acquaintance at the park — and I was giddy at the prospect of making a homeschooling friend who lives nearby. But three out of four girls were needy and wouldn’t give me the space I needed to maintain a friendly conversation.

I’m still thinking about today — wondering if the girls’ negativity was about their needs or more about me. Conscious parents will understand what I’m trying to analyse, for we accept that our children are here to teach us with their innocence and love rather than to receive the sceptical wisdom of our experiences.

Maybe I’m experiencing this so I can grow even stronger. Perhaps our extended time here in Brisbane is less about connecting with locals and more about regrouping as a family unit.

Maybe I’m learning that I shouldn’t try to put roots down in this area again. We lost so many local friendships when we left the church, and yet that painful experience was what set us free to find wonderful relationships across a wider geography.

As I ponder today and pray for strength to handle tomorrow, I seek solace in a moment of solitude. With everyone else in bed, perhaps I’ll sleep by myself for a change. Yes, sole-parenting can be lonely, but it can also be too much of a good thing too. I’ll take a bit of space tonight so I can catch my breath again — I’ll surely need it for tomorrow.