What really changes when you become a parent? Everything does, instantly. So says Peter Howarth, former editor of Esquire and Arena magazines and father of three sons.

When you’re about to become a father for the first time, other men who’ve already blazed that trail are keen to share their experiences. You get those who tell you it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them, and those who talk knowledgeably of sleep patterns and bottle-feeding.

And then there are those who give you that knowing look – a peculiar expression somewhere between smug resignation and pity – which seems to say “Woah, mate, you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.”

I was subjected to all this, but in retrospect only one person hit the nail on the head. A colleague said he’d been told the truth about fatherhood and he was now going to impart this profound piece of wisdom to me, like the handing on of a flaming torch. “It changes everything. Instantly,” he said simply.

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