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Daily Mail - - sandra Parsons - ANNA MAXTED

AT THE point when Phil was feel­ing this way to­wards Os­car, I was half-crazed with lack of sleep. I also had a novel to write. I had strength for Os­car and work, noth­ing else.

If Phil was strug­gling, I was sorry in a self­ish sort of way, but just hoped — naively — that he would sort it out. I felt so brit­tle I didn’t have the

en­ergy or will to help him. I did be­come an­gry, some­times, be­cause I felt it was un­fair on all of us. Phil was a de­cent fa­ther in a prac­ti­cal sense (heft­ing bug­gies, fit­ting shelves), but his lack of emo­tion to­wards his child was heart­break­ing.

It was so hard to un­der­stand how, af­ter all his lov­ing prepa­ra­tions in hon­our of the baby, he could be in­dif­fer­ent to our gor­geous son. Ev­ery time I saw an­other man trot­ting along — beam­ing — with a baby in a sling, I felt sick with sad­ness and re­gret. Why couldn’t my hus­band be like this?

Of course, the hus­bands of all my friends were over­joyed to be dads: no one else men­tioned suf­fer­ing from any ugly, un­nat­u­ral, con­flict­ing emo­tion. No, no: they were all cop­ing bril­liantly.

But al­though Phil seemed ini­tially un­able to ac­ti­vate his pa­ter­nal in­stinct, I could see that he loved Os­car — even if he didn’t re­alise it (Phil may have for­got­ten, but Os­car loved to fall asleep on his dad’s chest, ev­ery night).

I sup­pose I saw that, in spite of its heavy dis­guise, par­ent­hood was a bless­ing, and that in time Phil would recog­nise this and be­come a won­der­ful fa­ther.

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