Meet Andrew Brill, a single dad who’s going the distance

Article and photo by Savanah Mandeville

Growing pains… Messy rooms… Tantrums… Homework… Sleep depravation… Single parenthood isn’t for the faint of heart.

Andrew Brill, a single dad of five, knows the reality of that statement all too well.

“Man or woman, single parenting is hard all the way around,” he said. “Children have the raw ability to push all your buttons at once, and when there’s more than one of them, it can get overwhelming.”

Brill has had sole custody of his four eldest children since 2013 and has joint custody of his youngest. Having five kids in tow, ranging in age from 7 to 15, means there’s a whole mess of personalities, needs, wants, schedules and activities to juggle.

The oldest, Skylee, is 15 and is active in speech and debate; Rosslyn, 11, loves animals and reading; Hartley, 10, is the goofball of the family and is always building with legos; Kayden, 9, loves airplanes and wants to grow up to be a pilot; and Zairyck, 7, is a Transformers fanatic.

Brill said one of the most challenging aspects of day-to-day life is juggling schedules and said he’s been fortunate to have some flexibility as the owner of his own business, Brill’s Service Center.

“There’s those little things that happen – one gets sick during the day or one forgot something at home or one missed the bus. Being a single parent means you always have to be available at a moment’s notice.”

But being the one with sole responsibility means he’s the one who gets all the rewards and triumphs, too. Some of his proudest moments are when he gets compliments from his kids’ teachers.

“When teachers tell me at parent-teacher conferences that they’d be happy to have my children in their classroom forever if they could, it lets me know I’m doing something right,” he said.

Being a single dad does mean he has had to deal with some misconceptions along the way, though.

“There are not a lot of dads who have sole custody of their kids. It’s becoming more frequent than it was, but it’s still somewhat abnormal. There’s a stigma that fathers aren’t balanced enough or well-rounded enough to do all the things it takes to raise children, or they’re perhaps not as important in the home as the mom is. It’s a little disheartening, but all I can do is my best and ask for help when I need it.”

When Brill does need help, for instance, when his daughters need an older woman to turn to, he has the support of his grandmother and of his girlfriend, Laynie Myers.

“There are certain times you have to know when to say, ‘Hey, I could use a little help here,’” Brill said. “So I think knowing when to ask for help, knowing when to ask for advice and not being so proud to think you could just handle it all is important.”

Brill’s parenting philosophies include teaching strong values and morals, taking time to cool off in moments of anger, and taking time for self-care to deal with stress and overwhelm.

“My advice to any single parent would be that you can’t pour from an empty cup,” he said. “Make sure you take time to do the things you enjoy doing and hold onto your individuality. You have to still be who you are as a person because if you don’t, whether you realize it or not, you’ll start to have a certain amount of resentment that you don’t have any of the freedoms you had before.”

A final piece of advice?

“If you raise them well enough, you won’t have to raise them forever,” he said. “It’s my form and function in life to guide them to successful adulthood and instill independence. They do well in school, they’re well-mannered, they have a strong sense of right and wrong. They make me very proud!”

Quality time… Laughter… Milestones… Family traditions… Unconditional Love…

These are the priceless joys that make it all worth it.