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For fans of Marian Keyes, Hurrah for Gin and Allison Pearson. A tear-jerking but uplifting modern love story about motherhood and marriage.
Happy children, happy husband, happily ever after?
Tasha knows that she should count her blessings: married for eleven years, mother to three healthy children, she should be content with her lot. However, feelings of frustration have settled over her like a dark cloud. Despite living under the same roof and sharing the same bed, Tasha has never felt so distant from her husband, Charlie. She feels worn down by the mental load of motherhood, drowning in the never-ending chores that keep the family and household afloat. Most of all she worries that her once happy marriage is slipping away from her.
Tasha longs for something to change, but when change comes calling will it really be the answer she was hoping for? And is it possible to fall in love with the same person twice?
A modern day love story about family, marriage and risking it all to have it all.
Friday morning dawned bright and breezy. Tasha felt a lot better as she stepped from the open-plan kitchen into the garden and took in a deep breath of fresh air. She sipped her coffee, admiring an intricate cobweb that had appeared overnight, spun silver in the morning light. The grass was heavy with dew. Fat droplets of water clung to glossy leaves and dangled from branches like miniature crystal baubles. It was her morning ritual, a moment’s peace to herself before she got the children up and ready for school. Charlie had already left at some ungodly hour to go to work leaving Tasha to relish this time alone at the start of each day before chaos inevitably broke out. Having finished her coffee, she tipped some porridge oats into a pan and poured milk over the top, setting it to simmer while she went to rouse the children.
Once they were all up, dressed and full of breakfast Tasha helped them gather their bookbags, homework diaries and coats, ruing the fact that she had yet again failed to ensure each child’s bags were ready to go the night before. It had been her over-optimistic new year’s resolution, picturing the calm morning routine that her excellent organisational skills could create with a bit of forward planning. Tasha accompanied the children to school before setting about her household chores, fighting the overwhelming sense of boredom that had grown steadily heavier over the years. As she loaded yet another wash into the machine she received a text from Charlie to remind her that he wouldn’t be home for dinner. He was meant to be going out for drinks with a few of his friends from university. She had known this was in the diary so had arranged for a friend to come over for a catch-up dinner, she was grateful that she had made plans so she wouldn’t be spending yet another evening drinking alone in front of the television.
While she cooked moussaka for dinner her thoughts returned to the previous night. Irritation and resentment simmered away in the pit of her stomach. They had gone to sleep after reading their books side by side in virtual silence. In a way she wished Charlie had taken her passive-aggressive bait and that things had escalated into a full-blown argument. At least then she could have aired her grievances. Anything was better than the current lack of communication that seemed to be building a gulf between them that at times felt insurmountable. It occurred to Tasha that last night’s disappointment would never have happened the other way around. Charlie would never miss a night out due to childcare arrangements. He was always out already so he never needed to cancel his plans last minute because she couldn’t get home in time. It was so unfair.
At half past three Tasha was waiting at the school gates as first Max and then Bella came barrelling out of the door and into the playground in a flurry of grins, school bags and blazers. She scooped up as many belongings as she could, taking one grubby hand in each of hers to walk home. Flora, who was playing hockey, was being dropped off by another mum later on. Tasha couldn’t help but laugh as they chattered all the way home, full of energy and ready for the weekend. She tried to muster matching levels of enthusiasm when, really, all she longed for was a weekend of peace and quiet, to read a book uninterrupted, or something equally unheard of.
‘Are we still going to Richmond Park tomorrow, Mum?’ Bella asked.
‘That’s the plan,’ Tasha replied. ‘I’m hoping it’ll stay dry so we can have a nice picnic.’
‘Yum!’ cried Max. ‘Can we make sausage rolls?’
‘And take tomato ketchup?’ Bella asked.
‘We’ll see what we can do!’ Tasha laughed.
They continued to plan their picnic all the way home. They were clearly children after her own heart: food was often their favourite topic of conversation.
As they entered the kitchen Tasha screeched in dismay. ‘Oh, sh…ugar!’
‘What’s happened, Mum?’
‘Why is there water everywhere?’
‘It’s the machine,’ Tasha said. ‘It must have flooded.’
‘Oh, no!’ the children gasped, enjoying the drama.
‘Right! You go into the sitting room while I try and clean this mess up…’ Cursing under her breath, she took off her shoes and socks, rolled up her jeans and waded through the water to locate the mop. Bloody typical, she thought. All their appliances were conking out; some were as ancient as the house itself and in desperate need of replacing. This was going to be another expensive purchase if she couldn’t figure out a way to repair it herself.
At eight o’clock the doorbell rang. Tasha opened the door and threw her arms around Rosie, one of her oldest friends.
‘It’s been too long!’ she said as she hugged her, taking the bottle of wine Rosie proffered and leading her into the kitchen. ‘Excuse my bedraggled appearance, I haven’t had time to change. The sodding washing machine broke…’
‘Oh, God! Any idea why?’
‘There was a blockage. After unscrewing the plug and draining it I found three of Charlie’s cufflinks, a hair tie and a safety pin… fingers crossed that’s all that was wrong and we won’t have to buy a new one.’
‘What a nightmare! But well done for fixing it. And how are my favourite little angels?’ Rosie asked, peering up the stairs.
‘Asleep, thankfully,’ replied Tasha, crossing her fingers.
‘What, even my goddaughter?’
‘She’s reading – I told her you’d go up and say goodnight.’ Rosie disappeared upstairs to have a chat with Flora while Tasha opened a bottle of wine and poured them both large glasses. Rosie had proved to be the most wonderful godmother. She was single and had no children of her own so was free to give due time and attention to Flora and her numerous other godchildren.
Sometimes Tasha envied Rosie her freedom. She was a long-term singleton, by choice rather than through circumstance. She was a journalist who wrote a very successful blog about her single lifestyle in her free time: an extremely entertaining read, which had won her thousands upon thousands of followers and some lucrative advertising contracts. Tasha suspected her popularity was also partly down to her huge doe eyes and pouting lips – she looked as if she had had collagen implants but it was all annoyingly natural.
‘Flora seems well,’ Rosie said as she joined Tasha in the kitchen. ‘Is she still acting like a moody teenager?’ She took off her jacket and slung it on the back of one of the mismatched wooden chairs. Tasha’s furniture collection mainly consisted of hand-me-downs from both her and Charlie’s parents, as well as an assortment of junk-shop pieces and freebies she had picked up from Freecycle or even, in the case of their chest of drawers, the side of the road. Having spent every penny they owned on the house, they had never had much spare cash for its interior design.
Georgie lives in South West London with her husband and daughter. Alongside her writing she works as a primary school teacher and she particularly enjoys teaching English. She studied Italian and History of Art at the University of Edinburgh and did a PGCE in primary education at the University of London.