Being A Single Dad

It’s 06:00 as I stroll back into the house from my morning run which started at 05:00 – I’ve managed to put in 11km – it’s a good day.

Jane, my helper is already pacing frantically as usual. Good morning Jane – hi tata she responds (I have no idea why she calls me tata nor have I ever asked).

Siyanda, 1/2 of the twins is getting up and ready to take a bath. I’ve been meaning to add a bathroom to her room so she doesn’t have to share a bathroom with the boys Sandile, the other twin and Sne, the youngest – both of whom are fast asleep still. Sisi (as we call her), gets up before the boys because they seem to bath and eat faster – perhaps it’s just a guy thing ??‍♂.

While I ask how she slept, I check on lunches and ensure they are ready. They are picky about what they eat and prefer that I make the lunches, especially on burger Fridays.

Lunches are good and Sisi is moving along, like the lady that she is. By the time I finish my shower and getting dressed, the boys are polishing off their breakfast, I check in on them and their uniform along with Sisi, making sure that everyone is neat – especially the boys because they usually don’t lotion properly. We are ready for the morning drop off, which I insist on doing unless off course I’m working out of the country.

We have casual conversations on just about anything during the 10-minute drive to school. It’s the best on Fridays (despite it being test days for Sne), we play music and sing along.

This was not always the case. Sometimes their mother used to drop them off but we have been divorced for over two years now, and yes I’m a single dad who lives with his “bundles of unlimited joy” – pretty unusual, apparently.

I’ve always been an involved father since day one. Being a meaningful part of my kids’ lives is non-negotiable – I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Their mother and I decided that at this it would be best that I reside with them, as I live and work close to their school and this would cause less disruption to their daily routine.

I see to everything that they need including, school fees, medical aid, clothes, you name it. Their mother assists as much as possible including after school pick ups, which really helps and it’s always better when both parents involved. Being a ‘single parent’ is financially taxing. I understand all too well the difficulty the majority of women in our country face as far as child maintenance is concerned – I’m simply grateful to afford my kids the best.

Before I know it, it’s 18:00. It’s been a hectic day at the office, fighting over break costs, prepayment provisions, default clauses and acceleration rights – yes, I’m a director at a large corporate firm, which can be draining but that’s the least of my worries now. I need to get home, check on homework and ensure Sne has read all three daily readers (he’s a bit of a fast reader, so instead of one book a week we do two or three each day).

In order to make things easier, we have a set routine: after school time, is allocated to chores (cleaning shoes, washing socks, and lunch boxes), play time, homework time and limited t.v. This enables me to get home and check homework and help where things have not gone well. This also allows the kids to take responsibility for their work. They get rewarded for maintaining this routine.

Before I know it is 19:30 and people need to start preparing for bed.

This is just a normal day, some days have extramural activities and that rings a different dimension to our day.

By this time Sne has told me he needs more glue, pencil crayons and his tablet is not working. Sandile needs a new juice bottle and Siyanda, new shoes. The unexpected costs are a large part of the game.

In the two years of our divorce, we are yet to master co-parenting. It’s not easy, Although we agree that the best interests of the children are paramount, it doesn’t make it any easier. We are working on this and I hope in time we will be able to master it.

In my experience, I have found that the parent residing with the kids is often the one who is more involved, and you are just expected to figure it out, after all, you are the one that deals with the disappointment. To this end, I understand fully how ‘single mothers’ feel and can only hope as fathers we start taking ownership of contributing and participating meaningfully in raising our kids.

I’ve also had to learn how to be more in tune with the individual requirements/needs of each child to ensure that I’m present and there for them in a way that helps them. This has been a massive emotional learning and growth point.

It’s 04:30, time get up for my morning run. I haven’t really slept, somewhere during the day I must make time to replace/replenish the items I was told about yesterday.

Writer: Vusi