The struggle to balance a demanding job and parenthood is a central theme in my crime novel, Breakneck Point. As a working mother of four children, I wanted to show the reality of holding down a demanding job in policing whilst parenting a teenager.
The main character, Ally Dymond, is a crime scene investigator for the police and the mother of a teenage girl. The novel opens with her letting her daughter Megan down yet again after receiving a last minute call from work to attend court. Constantly conflicted, Ally is weighed down by the guilt she feels at missing important milestones in her daughter’s life, a guilt that is exacerbated by the fact she loves her job. Her daughter recognises this and believes Ally would rather work than look after her.
From my own experience, parenting teenagers uses a whole different skillset to parenting small children. They need you just as much even if they tell you they don’t and there is the constant challenge of allowing them more freedom to go out into the world whilst still trying to keep them safe. These are important themes to me, but, interestingly, when I started to think about the books I'd enjoyed that explored themes of motherhood I realised I invariably gravitate towards the humorous end of the spectrum. This, I suspect, is because it is often humour that has got me through the difficult times.
I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson came at a pivotal time for me in 2003 as I had three children under 7 and had embarked on a new and demanding career and, boy, was it hard. I read this book and it felt like I was being heard!
A Different Kind of Happy by Rachaele Hambleton taps into that horrible comparitis that we all feel when we look around ourselves and think everyone has got the parenting and life thing sorted. It’s about finding what works for you.
Tinker Tailor Schoolmum Spy by Faye Brann is a lot of fun. I love how the main character has this crazy other job in addition to being a mum and any tale that features a kick ass middle aged mum will get my attention.
Another Us by Kirsten Hesketh is a wonderful novel about juggling work and motherhood when you have an autistic child.
Hear No Evil by Sarah Smith is a historical novel based on a true story of a deaf woman accused of killing her baby. I’ve included it because I read a lot of historical novels and this novel is a reminder that mothers have always faced the challenge of caring for their children whilst trying to put food on the table.
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