Saturday, 4 May 2013

4 must-read books for mums

Mum and me in 1963

Becoming a mother changes your life unimaginably. Almost from the moment of conception it feels as though your life and your body are no longer your own. When you're pregnant, near strangers feel free to ask you the most intimate questions. Once your child is born, you can forget ever having any privacy again.

In my mothers' group in London, most of us were having our babies fairly late. We were all comfortably off, professional women used to running our own shows. All the more shocking then to discover at noon that, having been up since 5am you still hadn't managed to brush your teeth.

I remember my friend Mary's story of how, having (mistakenly) thought she'd finally got her baby into a routine, she decided to shave her legs while he slept. Of course, the baby woke up before she'd even finished the first leg, so she didn't managed to get to the second one. And as for her teeth...

Then there was my lovely friend Anthea who, pinned to the sofa for hours while her newborn suckled, was reduced to eating five bananas in one sitting - she was starving, didn't dare disturb her tiny babe and the bananas were all that was within reach.

My boys are growing up now and those baby days are a distant memory. But it's not overstating it to say that motherhood changes your life forever. I'm not one for commercial celebrations but I do think it's important to remember your mum who, however much she wanted a baby, didn't quite know what she was getting herself into.

There are many great books about the parent/child relationship. Here are my favourites. That's not to say you won't enjoy them if you don't have kids, it's just that having been there, you'll appreciate them all the more.

1. Room by Emma Donoghue
A beautiful, inspiring, book. Ma, the heroine of this story, is strong, creative and sets new standards in parenting. Read it and weep.

2. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
One for parents of teenage boys. Charlie and Jeffrey's exchanges make me snort with laughter. How could you not love a book that poses the question: "Would you rather wear a hat made of spiders or have penises for fingers?" I'm still mulling that one over.

3. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This book scared the bejeezus out of me. Brilliant nonetheless and I reckon every parent should read it. Excellent choice for book clubs - you won't be able to stop talking about it.

4. Burned by me
It's hard for me to sum up Burned in a sentence or two, so I hope you won't mind me borrowing what my publisher, Random House, says: "When a tragic event occurs in a quiet town in England, no one could predict just how it would ripple through the four people from opposite sides of the world who physically and emotionally collide in this multi-faceted tale.'

I can say that the two events that have inspired my writing the most are moving to Australia and becoming a mother. Burned celebrates them both.

On that note, I wish my mum, Mollie Thorrowgood, and every other mother on the planet, a very happy Mother's Day on 12th May.

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