Love of my life
Not my daughter.
As 2011 shrivelled on the vine and I reached for another glass of glorious red to toast the demise of a truly crap year, I had a semi-drunken epiphany about the "love of my life".
Until that moment, "she" had been a mysterious figure, a gal I'd seemingly waited my whole life for, yet mistaken for several ex-girlfriends and many other woman with cute smiles on a Friday night.
I'd long ago concluded she would be an ex-model, now a professor of Middle Eastern history, who taught yoga on the side because her impoverished European royal family couldn't support her charity work any more.
She had class. Brains. Beauty. A sense of proportion and justice. She was sane and knew what mattered in life and it wasn't her hereditary title of "Countess Palatine of the Rhines"; it was love, the love we shared, that would endure until we slumped drooling in our rocking chairs, aged 97, pushing peanut butter into adult nappies.
Well, circumstances certainly cleared the smoke from my cocky cockpit over the past 12 months and, as I've come to terms with the reality of being a single father, it also dawned on me that this enigmatic woman of my dreams had already arrived.
The "epiphany" was that she's not a woman at all but a little girl; my daughter.
Here, finally, is the person I can love wildly, unconditionally and forever. It will never go away. My daughter will never walk out or hang up on me (I hope), and I know with a certitude akin to breathing that I will never do so to her.
I'm sure this is a revelation many other parents have experienced, so I won't bang on too much about it except to say this: there must be billions of people in the world who feel exactly the same as I do, who've stared in awe and love at a tiny creature, seemingly conjured from nothing, that is now part of their lives.
The wonder of it! An egg embraced a sperm, became a zygote, an embryo, a foetus, a bulge in "her" tummy, became your daughter or son! To this day, almost 21 months after my little one's birth, I cannot contain the flush of astonishment and reverence that my daughter is just ... here.
What I find incongruous is that we humans, daily, abjure the wonder of life. We kill with such abandon.
If there is any constant in the history of mankind it is our utter willingness to murder each other, to snuff out that spark we see in our own kids, to deny the love others have for their offspring, to delude ourselves that: "I feel like this alone" or "they're not like me".
And sure, you or I have not killed someone lately (I hope), but too many of us treat people - daughters and sons of somebody - as if they were chaff, unimportant, the cattle of our kind.
I know I now can't look at a stranger's child and not experience echoes of the wonder I feel for my own daughter, and, as a result, am just a little gentler and forgiving of whatever "faults" I may happen to project on random sprogs.
This is another of the great, unheralded fortunes of parenthood; that we can take the specialness we see in our own children and apply it to others, even adults.
Sure, it's often difficult to invoke the memory of the child when it's a man or woman with "60 or more winters on its head" but I find it a gentle discipline and yet another path to tolerance to remember we are all a wonder to someone.
At least, we should be.