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When I first met James, I was riding an epic wave of self-indulgence: living in London, working as a journalist for a fashion magazine, travelling the world working on stories, interviewing celebrities, rolling from party to party.It was spontaneous and chaotic, and that’s how I liked it.This constant tug-of-love is tough for the father, too.Christian, a 35-year-old dad to girls aged three and six, puts it neatly: ‘My girlfriend is the most understanding person on Earth.That it took a child to teach me about growing up is an irony not lost on me.
You just clean up the popcorn and put the crayons away until next week.
One that makes the idea of growing up a lot less scary.
Being a dad makes James who he is and, in turn, makes our relationship what it is: a solid team marching into an unknown future that’s messy, complicated and utterly brilliant in equal measures. Be who you are and invent a relationship with his kids that works for you and them, avoiding the extremes of disciplinarian or doormat.
Rightly so, it’s his parents who watch him star as ‘third sheep from the left’ in the school nativity.
But that doesn’t mean you’re not sat anxiously at home sending ‘how did he do? ‘My boyfriend Evan made it clear from the start that I would always come second to his daughter Lola, and that I wasn’t to tell her off – even when she was rude to me in my own home,’ admits my friend Charlotte, 33, who has her own experience of dating a dad.
I spent far too long in an unhappy marriage, so when it was over I recognised The One the minute I met her. There’s so much hostility from my embittered ex-wife – it’s like she holds a gun to my head in terms of access to the children. But it’s an ongoing challenge that we’ll only realise the enormity of as time goes on.