Living outside the nuclear narrative will create so many jarring moments with others that soon you won’t speak, only nod. You will do The Nod when the nursery sends your kid home with a Happy Father’s Day card that she’s been made to copy her name on to. You will employ The Nod when other mums say they know exactly what it’s like being a single parent because their lovely husband works abroad for up to two weeks at a time.
… Gradually, you will realise that you, too, have made other people do The Nod all your life. That you moaned about your mum to a friend whose mum was dead, that you complained about being skint to friends who’ll never earn what you do, that you phoned in sick with hangovers when a colleague who lives with a chronic pain condition wouldn’t dream of missing work. A lifetime of selfishness will open up before you like a seam. You will watch a friend lose her two-year-old, who dies for no reason in the night, and clutch your own child very, very tightly and thank God that she is here, and that the smell of her hair is such sweetness that even your nostrils are in love with her. She will become your levity and your gravity. You will be more than able to cope.