But as the number of single parents is expected to rise to approximately 1.9 million in the UK next year it could be easier than you once thought!
I start messaging Rob (not his real name, but a guy I have mutual friends with and have fancied for years), and after taking my youngest for his like-clockwork 1 a.m. On both occasions, I dart to the bathroom and frantically whisper-call my brilliantly ruthless babysitter, Laura, so that when I get back to the table, I just happen to get a text from her about an "emergency" requiring my immediate departure. As usual, I start the date by telling him I have two sons, even throwing in some funny anecdotes. The boys are at their dad's, but evidence of them is everywhere: pictures on walls, toys scattered on the floor.
I make a mental note to exercise more quality control before agreeing to meet — at $12 an hour for a babysitter, these failed dates are proving to be expensive. As we sit down and lean into a kiss, the disembodied voice of Thomas the Tank Engine informs us from behind a cushion that he is a really useful engine.
Then I stop myself, the guilt rising: I'm not giving my children the time and attention they deserve. When I was married, my future was mapped out for me.
I could picture what it would look like in 10, 20, even 30 years' time. And with my sons, I also feel safe in the knowledge that I'll always have two wonderful men by my side.
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