Here’s a question:
You’re a busy, over-worked mum with three kids. Your 13 year old daughter has arranged a school night sleepover with her best friend as they have a school project they want to work on. They hang out a lot together and you know her mum reasonably well. Your daughter wakes up though not feeling well, and doesn’t go to school that day.
What do you do?
A. Do you ask you daughter to text her friend to let her know she can’t come over?
B. Do you call her mum in your break at work to explain the situation yourself?
C. Do you forget completely to do anything at all and remember at about tea time?
I am definitely an A.* At 13, having arranged the sleepover themselves, I’d figure they were capable of rearranging themselves too. Plus I am a bit scared of using the phone and avoid it if I can. (Not a very grown-up thing I know but we all have our weak spots).
What about then if the next morning, you get a call to tell you the friend hasn’t shown up at school and is missing. Her mum has only just discovered this because she thought she was safe and sound with you all night.
This is exactly the situation that Lisa Kallisto finds herself in in the opening pages of ‘Just what kind of mother are you?‘ by Paula Daly.
Can you even begin to imagine how awful you would feel? As busy mums we all let some things slip – it would be impossible to keep track of absolutely everything all of the time – but to feel responsible for another woman’s child being missing would be horrendous.
The interesting thing about this book though, apart from it being a cracking read, is that it really makes you think about how easily a situation like that could occur and who, if anyone, is really at fault. Could you honestly say that you would have made the effort to call up the other mum and let her know for yourself, or do we at some point have to let go and let someone else pick up some of the slack? Is it the other woman’s fault for not calling to check on her daughter during the course of the evening, just in case?
Years of social media have left me with a very short attention span, and getting through a whole book is something of a struggle for me. It’s sad, because I love that feeling of being totally absorbed by a book that’s so gripping you just can’t bear to stop reading, you just have to find out what’s on the next page.
That’s exactly what this book did for me. I took it to bed at 8pm with me one evening and at midnight I was still sat up, cold tea on the bedside table next to me, desperate to discover what would happen to everyone and trying to ignore the clock. It was a fantastic feeling. Boyfriend actually said he couldn’t remember the last time I had spent four hours concentrating on anything, let alone a book.
If you’re looking for a brilliant summer read that will also make you think a little about the balance in your life then ‘Just what kind of mother are you?’ is definitely the book for you.
*Possibly a C on a busy day but we’ll try and pretend otherwise.