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The Single Parent on Attending Kids Events Alone

When you’re a single parent raising kids, there will be plenty of events that you will have to attend alone. Band concerts, science fairs, sporting events. I could continue, but I know you get it.

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We go because we want to, because we love our children and want to support them. And we are so very, very proud of them.

But attending as a single parent can be lonely.

Alone in a Crowd

Here’s how it goes: you go to the band concert alone and wait in the lobby alone before the show begins. You sit alone and pretend to vigorously read the program. You are painfully aware of the couples surrounding you. Sometimes they also have grandparents, maybe aunts and uncles. Lots and lots of family. You are alone. Your family lives out of town. You are your child’s one-person fan club.

The situation can actually get worse. Your child’s other parent shows up, and he brings his girlfriend or wife. Hopefully they don’t sit near you, or heaven forbid, next to you. Either way, you feel like an obvious loser. You cannot wait for the lights to dim, so you can just focus on your child and smile away. I know, you know other parents, you have friends of course, and sometimes you sit with them and that helps a bit. But, deep down, it’s that same emptiness you carry lodged in your gut much of the time. Being a single parent can be lonely and this is your life.

It feels like everyone around you is happily married (even though you know it’s absolutely not true), and everyone else must be doing great financially while you have to do accounting gymnastics just to buy a new bathroom rug. And the other families have dads who are investing boatloads of time and energy into their children; they see them every day, not just two weekends a month.

Your life feels like a failure and you’re so afraid you are permanently messing up your children’s lives.

Show Up and Be Proud

I’m here to tell you that you’re not; you’re really not. You are attending events and you can do that with your head held high. You are making the best of these days; what other choice do you have? Think of it this way—every time you show up for your kids’ plays and parent-teacher conferences, you are showing them that they are loved, no matter how it makes you feel. You show them that school is important and sports have value, and activities, clubs and music lessons are worth investing in.

Your kids don’t know that you feel lonely going to events alone; they only know how thrilling it feels to sit on a stage and spot your smiling face in the audience. Keep going, walk in with confidence, and be proud of your child’s participation. These days do eventually end, you know, and while you may be uneasy being out and about alone, you will never regret showing up for your children.

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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