I’m one of those mums who don’t like a fuss on Mother’s Day. An extra hour in bed, a full ‘Irish’ breakfast, no squabbling children in my immediate vicinity, and I’m content. Being a mother is relentless, and all I ask for is a small reduction in pace. Yup, that’s all I want on Mother’s Day (but if there are chocolates and presents on offer too, well, I’m not going to say no!)
I am the CEO of our family. The timetable scheduler (Two places at once? No problem). The chef (School lunches from a bare pantry? Easy peas-y). The training and development person (Miss Ten doesn’t have the first iota when it comes to fractions. Master thirteen doesn’t know how to clip his toenails. Immediate training required on both fronts). I cover both the strategic (that’s the long-term stuff such as public schools versus private etc.) and the operational (that’s the everyday shit . . . like not allowing my children to use bad language).
‘What would you do without me?’ I cry on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
It’s a valid question. There are some things that would never cross my husband’s mind. Children would arrive at school without sunscreen, water bottles and pencil cases. Diet would be compromised: no fish, not enough greens, too many hot chips. I’d have no choice but to haunt him. Yes, if I was gone, I would come back and haunt my husband, poke him in the ribs every time he forgot something or didn’t do it right, leave notes in ghostly handwriting on the kitchen counter: Miss Ten hasn’t practised her clarinet in three weeks, Master Thirteen has been wearing the same pyjamas for a similar period of time. Or maybe I could put my writing skills to use and write a manual – a tome – that covered absolutely everything they’d need to know to survive without me. Section 13: Sickness and ill-health. Subsection 13.1: Common varieties of sickness; 13.2: Sickness and school; 13.3: Sickness and sport; 13.4: Guidelines on doctors and medical centres; 13.5: Prevention of sickness; 13.6: Phantom sicknesses and hypochondria . . .
Yes, I’m quite the medic, on top of everything else: the grocery shopper, the fashion consultant, the homework guru, the clothes washer, the lynchpin of the family. In Once Lost I wanted to explore what happens when that lynchpin is suddenly pulled out. A mother who was there one day, gone the next. A mother who left behind no explanations, no manual, no guidance . . . only questions, suspicions and a terrible, terrible uncertainty about what had actually happened to her. The wider impact on everyone who knew her, not just her family, but her neighbours, her acquaintances, even down to her daughter’s best friend. Who stepped in to take her place. The fact that nobody could, no matter how hard they tried, no matter how good their intentions. The fact that her daughter never got used to her being gone, and never gave up searching for her. Some holes can never be filled. Or should that be some roles?
Sadly, on this Mother’s Day there will be many families in that exact situation. Families who have lost mothers due to illness, due to accidents, or due to other tragic misfortune. I might joke about all that I do for my family and how irreplaceable I am, but that’s a cover for my biggest fear: leaving my children, not being there to guide them on the little things as well as the big, missing out on all their important moments. I probably won’t get a sleep-in on Mother’s Day, and I can be guaranteed there’ll be the usual arguments and fights, but I’m here – I have them and they have me – and that has to be the most important thing of all.
Are some things better left unfound?
Best friends Louise and Emma grew up next door to each other in a grim inner-city suburb of Dublin.
Now Louise, an art conservator, is thousands of miles away in Sydney, restoring a beautiful old painting. She meets Dan, whose family welcome her as one of their own, but she will always feel lost until she finds her mother who walked out when she was just eight years old.
Back in Dublin, Emma is stuck in a job where she is under-appreciated and underpaid, but her biggest worry is her ex-partner, Jamie. Emma has lost so much because of Jamie: her innocence, her reputation, almost her life. Now she is at risk of losing Isla, her young daughter.
So where is Louise’s mother? Will Emma ever be free of her ex? Both women frantically search for answers, but when the truth finally emerges it is more shattering than they had ever expected.
About the Author
Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, County Cork, and moved to Australia in 1995. She worked as a finance director in the information technology industry until the release of her first novel, Executive Affair. Her second book, Just Business, was published in Ireland and Germany and these novels, plus her third, High Potential, were released in Australia in 2008 and The Better Woman in 2009. Once Lost is her latest novel.