WHEN A MOTHER’S LOVE MEANS DOING THE UNTHINKABLE …
Left devastated by her husband’s affair and the break-up of their family, Kate is struggling to keep it together for the sake of her three children. Though times are still tough, she’s finally beginning to move on with her life in Dublin.
But when twelve-year-old Jessica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate’s resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won’t face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day.
Kate knows she must put her own fear and heartbreak to one side and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means making a decision that no mother should ever want to make.
An emotionally gripping tearjerker, The Good Mother is perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.
I have something’s but different to share today, the first chapter from The Good Mother! This book sounds beautiful, I can’t wait to read it myself.
THE GOOD MOTHER
by Sinead Moriarty
Kate stood in the empty hall and looked around. Nothing left but memories. She remembered moving in around ten years ago. Nick had carried her over the threshold, even though it was a long time since she’d been a blushing bride. He’d been like an excited little kid, running around, showing her the fancy fridge that churned out ice cubes, the Jacuzzi and the big garden where the kids could play football.
It was his dream house. Nick felt as if he’d ‘arrived’. Big house, big garden, fancy car. Things were good, really good. Nick was doing well and finally able to have the life he’d always dreamed of living.
They’d been happy then. Luke was eight and Jess was two when they’d moved in. Jess had taken her time to arrive. After three miscarriages and years of disappointment they had almost given up, but then Kate had got pregnant and gone full-term. The longed-for and beloved Jess had arrived, like a ray of sunshine, in their lives. She had been worth the wait. Gazing at her adoringly in the hospital, Nick said they now had the perfect family.
The house had been full of laughter and fun. They’d had lots of birthday celebrations and good times there. Kate had enjoyed it all, every minute.
She knew buying the house had been a stretch for them financially. She just hadn’t realized how much of a stretch. Nick had been vague about the deposit and repayments, and she’d been too wrapped up in the kids and the daily chores, and too naive to ask questions.
Or maybe she hadn’t wanted to know. The truth was, she’d stuck her head in the sand on purpose. Life was good, and Kate hadn’t wanted to know the details. Nick had said he had it under control and she’d gladly left him to it.
When the economic downturn had badly affected the big estate agent Nick worked for, Kate had just hoped for the best. She’d redoubled her efforts to create the perfect home, always having a meal prepared for Nick when he came in at the end of the day. She’d become a regular domestic goddess, trying to smooth over the cracks.
She’d wanted to make their home a haven for Nick, but it hadn’t been enough. And then, instead of bringing them closer, Bobby’s birth had pushed Nick even further away. When Nick had started to work late all the time and come home smelling of someone else’s perfume, Kate had ignored it … until it was too late.
She looked around at her home and bit her lip to prevent herself crying. Everything was so messed up. What the hell would her life be like from now on?
‘Muuuuuuum!’ Bobby shouted from the front door, hands on his hips. ‘I want to go now. It’s hot and sweaty in the car.’
Kate went over and kissed his hot little face. ‘I just need to get Jess. She’s upstairs.’
She found Jess in her bedroom. Her daughter had her back to her. Kate knew by the hunch of her shoulders and the quiet sniffles that she was crying. She went over and put her arms around her. Jess stiffened. ‘I’m sorry, pet.’
‘I’m fine, Mum.’
Kate turned her daughter to face her. Jess wiped away her tears roughly with the sleeve of her shirt. ‘I know this is hard, Jess, but I think living with Granddad will be fun.’ She tried to sound convincing.
Jess nodded. ‘It’s just … it’s just all so final. I thought that maybe Dad would come home, but now I guess I know he won’t. Will he?’
Kate hugged her. Poor Jess. She was the optimist in the family. The boys knew Nick was never coming back. Even at seven years old, Bobby knew. But here was Jess, the middle child, still hoping for the happy ending that could never be. ‘Your dad’s with Jenny now, pet. They have a new baby and a new life, and that’s not going to change. But he still loves you all very much,’ she added hastily.
‘Yeah, which is why he never comes to see us,’ Luke drawled from the doorway.
‘Luke,’ Kate said, in a warning voice. ‘Your sister’s upset.’
Luke came in and put a big muscly arm around his little sister’s shoulders. ‘Come on, Jess. I know Granddad’s house is a lot smaller and he’s a bit mad, but we’ll be fine.’
‘You don’t have to share a room with Bobby,’ Jess reminded him.
Luke grinned. ‘Yeah, it sucks for you. But I have to study for my Leaving Cert so I can’t have Bobby droning on about his facts all day long. Besides, I’ll probably move out next year and live close to whatever university I end up going to, so you can have my room then.’
‘But I don’t want you to move out. I’d miss you.’
Luke kissed the top of her head. ‘You’re too soft, Jess. You need to toughen up.’
‘She’s perfect just the way she is.’ Kate smiled at them.
They both rolled their eyes.
‘You always say that, Mum,’ Jess said, grinning at her brother.
‘It’s true. You three kids are my proudest achievement. And I know the last few months have been awful and I wish … well, I just wish that …’ Kate was choking up.
Luke put his hand on her arm. ‘It’s okay, Mum. You did everything you could. Dad’s just a selfish dickhead.’
‘Luke, don’t speak about your father like that.’
‘Daddy’s a dickhead,’ Bobby shouted from the door, giggling.
Kate glared at Luke.
He shrugged. ‘I speak the truth.’
‘You’re eighteen, Luke. You should know when to zip it. And as for you, Bobby, you’re supposed to be waiting in the car.’
Luke flung his arm around her and pulled her in for a hug. ‘Chill, Mum.’ To Bobby he said, ‘Don’t use bad words. It’s not cool.’
‘But you said it and you’re cool.’ Bobby frowned, trying to make sense of these conflicting statements.
Kate bent down to look her youngest in the eye. ‘Bad language is not okay. You know that and so does Luke. Now, come on, all of you, Granddad’s waiting for us.’ She ushered them downstairs and out of the front door, telling them to get into the car and buckle up.
Once they’d left, she allowed herself a few minutes for a final walkabout. It was stupid: she should just walk out of the door and not look back, but it was so hard to leave the place. You spent all your time creating a home, but you never really knew just how much it meant to you until it was taken away. This had been her sanctuary from the world, the place she most enjoyed being, an extension of herself and her hopes for the future. Now, it wasn’t hers any more, and she had no idea what her future held – stress, loneliness and financial worry, probably. Nick had taken everything from her, home, security and, most of all, her self-esteem. Leaving her for a younger model was so clichéd it should make her laugh. But it wasn’t funny. It hurt like hell. The pain of it kept looping out and around her, drowning her sense of self and self-worth.
Slowly, she forced herself to walk towards the front door. She didn’t want to go. She had a brief, crazy thought of staging a sit-in protest and forcing the bank to let her keep it, but she knew that was daft. Besides, this home and that future were gone now: the place was stripped bare, back to how it was when they’d first bought it. Just like me, Kate thought sadly. Right back to square one.
Her phone pinged and she pulled it out of her pocket. A message from Maggie. She opened it and smiled. Trust Maggie and her perfect timing! Today must be hell for you. Chin up! I’ll be over at the weekend to help you unpack and put manners on George! I’ll bring wine. Lots and lots of wine! You’ll be okay. Love you. M.
She pushed back her shoulders, took a deep breath and stepped outside onto the step. As she pulled the front door shut behind her, the finality of the lock’s click almost made her sink to her knees and cry. Instead, she waved to her waiting children, swallowed her grief and took her place in the driver’s seat.
Kate eased her battered old car down the driveway. She saw Jess’s lip quivering in the rear-view mirror and her heart ached. This was not the life she’d planned for her children. She’d never wanted them to come from a broken home. How had everything gone so wrong?
I’m a forty-two-year-old woman with three kids moving back in with my dad because I’m broke and homeless, she thought. She gripped the steering-wheel and tried to control her breathing. Now that Nick was preoccupied with Jenny and Jaden, the baby, Kate had to be even more mindful of the kids. She had to be more loving and patient and giving … but she was exhausted. All she wanted to do was lie down, pull the duvet over her head and cry.
George was standing at the gate when they arrived, wearing his navy apron with ‘The Village Café’ on it. His cheeks were flushed.
‘Uh-oh, Granddad has a cross face,’ Bobby said.
They climbed out of the car.
‘Lookit, Kate, I’m happy for you to move in, you know I am, but your removal men have left boxes all over the kitchen and I’m trying to run a business here. Besides, Sarah just called to say she’s not coming in today and that she’s found another job. The new French girl, Nathalie, is useless, so I’m pretty much on my own. I need a hand.’
Kate took charge. ‘Right. Luke, you and the others tidy up the boxes while I help Granddad in the café. Put all the boxes upstairs in my bedroom. Pile them up in the corner out of the way and I’ll sort them out later. When you’ve finished, come down and help. We’ll be busy for lunch.’
Kate followed her father through the hall into the big kitchen that served the café.
‘I’ll sort these out if you go and serve coffees,’ George said, as he began firing homemade quiches into the big oven.
Kate went through the kitchen door that led to the café. There were two tables waiting to be served. At the other three occupied tables, people were busy drinking coffee and eating scones. Five tables were empty, but not for long. The lunchtime rush would start soon.
Kate took the orders for the two tables and went back into the kitchen. She inhaled the scent of the fresh coffee beans and closed her eyes. The familiar scent of her childhood always calmed her. Kate knew the place like the back of her hand. She’d grown up behind the counter. As far back as she could remember she’d helped her mum and dad run the Village Café. Her mum had always been more front-of-house while her dad did a lot of the cooking. But after her mother’s death six years ago, that had changed. George had had to engage more with the customers and he had grown used to it. It didn’t come naturally to him, but he was much better at it than he had been.
Throughout her married life Kate had often received urgent calls whenever a staff member had called in sick or a big party was booked in. She liked helping her parents – as an only child she was close to both and the café was her home from home.
After her mother died, she had called in every day to make sure her father was coping. He had been utterly shattered by Nancy’s death, but with Kate’s help and the café needing to be run, he had muddled through. Having to get up and open it every day had kept him going, given him a purpose. Kate often wondered what he would have done if he hadn’t had the business. It had been a life-saver and kept him active and busy.
Her dad had been a rock to Kate when Nick had left her two years ago. He’d stepped in and given her money to get her through, and when the bank had repossessed the house, he had immediately suggested they all move in with him. Kate had wanted to weep with relief.
She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, given that her father was used to living alone, but they’d get through somehow. She’d make it work. She had to – she had nowhere else to go and the kids needed stability. As a new customer came to the counter, Kate put a smile on her face. She willed herself to be positive and hopeful for the future. Things would get better – for sure they couldn’t get worse. This was the lowest she had ever fallen. The only way was up. It was a new beginning.
About the Author:
aboutSinead was born and raised in Dublin where she grew up surrounded by books. Her mother is an author of children’s books. Growing up, Sinead says she was inspired by watching her mother writing at the kitchen table and then being published. From that moment on, her childhood dream was to write a novel.
After university, she went to live in Paris and then London. It was at the age of thirty, while working as a journalist in London that she began to write creatively in her spare time – after work, at lunch times … and, truth be told, during work hours.
After a couple of years toying with ideas, she joined a creative writing group and began to write The Baby Trail. The bitter-sweet comedy of a couple struggling to conceive hit a nerve in publishing circles. It was snapped up by Penguin Publishing in the UK and Ireland and has, to date, been translated into twenty-five languages.
Since writing The Baby Trail, Sinead has moved back to Dublin where she lives with her husband and three children and their little black cat, Minnie. Sinead also writes a weekly column for The Irish Independent newspaper.