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.