Thursday, 1 September 2016

Prince Charming and the single mother

“Internet dating is fun,” my friend said. “You meet new people, go out to new places, and it’s exciting getting ready for a date - you have a glass of wine, listen to music.” 

This is internet dating for people without children. It is not my experience. For me, the soundtrack is Ceebeebies. The drink is a cup of tea that I probably won’t manage to actually drink. The excitement of going out and meeting someone new is overshadowed by the huge challenge of actually managing to leave the house.

Challenge #1 - set the date

“Come out tonight, I know a bar that does great cocktails.” Oh how I laughed.

I don’t want to lie about having a child, but if I show how difficult it is to arrange to get out of the house, that’s not going to make me look like fun girlfriend material. I mean, if I were a bloke, that would put me off. So Prince Charming and I send  messages back and forth trying to arrange a time we can both meet and I can get a babysitter, without mentioning babysitters.

My daughter is going through a clingy stage and Prince Charming is asking me where we should meet. It will take approximately 20 seconds to send this text message, but small fingers are grabbing at the screen. I lock myself in the toilet to reply.

Challenge #2 - Leave the house

In two hours I’m due to leave the house for my dinner date with Prince Charming. I need to feed, bath and put my child to bed, and make myself presentable. 

Hardcore multitasking is the only possible way to achieve this. I carried out retrospective risk assessments on these steps:
  • Step 1: Cook fishfingers whilst showering (risks: electrocution, house fire, cremated fishfingers)
  • Step: 2: Apply moisturiser and dry hair in the kitchen while toddler is eating (risks: tripping, slipping)
  • Step 3: Apply make-up whilst toddler is in the bath (risks: major mascara incident, flooding)
7.15pm: 15 minutes to go. Story time. I’m still wearing jeans and a T-shirt with finger-shaped yogurt stains - I don’t want my date clothes to get covered in bathwater. Where is my lipstick? Where is the Peppa Pig book? What’s more important? Must remember not to take baby wipes to the restaurant. And where the hell is the babysitter? 

7.30pm: the child is in bed and I’m supposed to leave the house now. There’s only one problem - I’m still not dressed. Jeans and T shirt off and skirt and top go on. Is this skirt too slutty? SHOES! I don’t know which shoes to wear. The babysitter is here. OK, just leave now. Is my lipstick smudged? Leave. NOW!

Challenge #3 Make the house look grown-up

Prince Charming arrives to welcome me back from holiday with take away curry. I just about manage to throw the toys into (and around) the toy box and brush my hair to look presentable when his car pulls up. I kick the Cheerios under the sofa.

He’s dishing out curry in the kitchen when the child makes herself known. We’re potty training and there’s a toilet-related incident. I usher her into the bathroom. One minute I’m wiping poo from my child’s bum. Five minutes later I’m breezing back into the kitchen demurely, for second helpings of rogan josh, hoping he didn’t hear any of that. Unlikely. I cross my fingers that the child doesn’t decide to pull an allnighter, and won’t ask me to sing her a song as I’m not yet ready to subject Prince Charming to my vocal abilities.

It's going well. I'm clearly a Goddess. Albeit one with yogurt in my hair, as befits a latterday Cinderella.