It’s a funny thing, being a single parent. You start to disappear.
You start to disappear because you don’t really fit in any of your social groups any more. You don’t really fit in with your mummy friends, because on the weekends they’re busy doing family things. And you don’t really fit in with your childless friends either, because they’re busy going to parties and dinners and lots of other evening things that you can’t join in with.
Of course, you can meet up for daytime coffees at the weekend, but your conversation isn’t really what it once was – partly because you don’t get out and about much anymore, and partly because you’ve been up since 5am and someone’s swapped your brain for stewed apple.
In essence, you’re reduced to a small subset of people who are both good friends AND have the patience to hang out with you and your energetic child, as well as talk about children more than is usual. It’s a rarefied group.
So this week I’m trying to break the mould: I’m going out for coffee with a man THAT I DON’T KNOW. Or, in other words, I’m going on a date. In fact, it’s a bit of a strange date because, in the absence of a babysitter, the little guy will be coming with me.
It’s been so long since I attempted such a thing, I’ve completely forgotten the protocol … but I’m pretty sure that taking your squawking infant with you is not exactly de rigeur. Still, if we get beyond the first date, the little fella will be on the scene pretty much all the time, so I suppose it’s a good way of seeing how the gentleman in question handles the company of minors.
(And before you get up in arms about me taking the little man on date, remember I’m going for a coffee in town, not a gin-soaked soirée at the Folies Bergère.)
And in another attempt to stop myself from fading from the social scene altogether, I’ve also signed up for a dating event … although my attendance is dependent upon finding someone who essentially wants to sit by themselves in a house free of TV, internet or any other entertainment-based mod cons while the wee piglet slumbers upstairs.
It’s not an easy sell, I’ll admit.
Although my lack of electronic entertainment doesn’t bother me one iota, when I explained the situation to one potential babysitter, she looked at me – completely perplexed – and said, “But what do you do in an evening?”
The truth of it is that by the time the little lad is finally tucked into bed and I’ve tided the residual whirlwind, eaten some dinner and got everything ready for tomorrow’s onslaught, it’s almost time for bed. A few pages of my book and my eyes are already starting to close; I don’t have time to miss the TV.
That said, my phone’s been away for repair for nearly a month now and it’s like being starved of oxygen. Not only am I closed off from the modern world, I’m also wandering around with my friends’ telephone numbers scribbled on a little scrap of paper. It’s like going back to 1989.
More importantly, I’m prevented from taking spontaneous snaps of the little piglet, which is obviously a tragedy. I suppose it will prevent me from boring my date with a ‘quick’ photographic resume of his life since birth, but I’m struggling to find any other positives.
Anyway, since the weather forecast predicts torrential rain for the next five days, it looks as though I’ll be turning up to my coffee date in full waterproofs – a look that’s not exactly known for its ability to snare men at 20 paces.
The only bonus is that my rainproof jacket is a lurid, squealing orange. And there’s definitely no chance of me disappearing in that.