You wanted to do something big for God since you became a Christian, but it’s difficult when you have three primary aged children. Your life tends to be taken up with toddler group, Mum’s group at church, potties, creche, taking children to school and parties. Becky is married to teacher Dave and has three children, Jennifer (aged nine and already anticipating teenager-dom), Adam (six) and Ellie (two). When she tries to take a quiet time in the bathroom, she is interrupted after five minutes, because her six year old needs the loo. She notes that this never happened when Jesus in the Bible when he went up a mountain to pray.
The story opens on Becky’s thirty-ninth birthday, feeling that she’s never going to have the opportunity to do anything significant. For the first part of the book, which is written as a diary, there is an air of resignation in her entries, as household crisis follows household crisis. She makes new year resolutions which fall flat. Becky compares herself unfavourably with other members of her circle of friends, especially Helen, who is a perfect housewife and mother and a perfect Christian too. When Becky looks after missionaries, Rupert and Liz, as a favour for the minister, she is impressed by their commitment to their project in Guatemala, and feels she herself could never do anything like that. When she’s asked to stand at the front in church and talk about it, she nearly dies of fright. As a reader, I’m starting to believe that Becky’s mission is to the world around her, to her family and friends, especially Annie with the non-sleeping baby, to whom Becky is extremely kind, but, suddenly, two-thirds into the story, we lurch forward.
The Diary of a (Trying to Be Holy) Mum concerns a largish group of ordinary people who attend one church, plus Becky’s unhelpful in-laws. The same characters, well drawn and realistic, appear consistently, so we get to know them all well. Fiona is, I know, drawing hugely from her own experience, of church and of motherhood. Having been part of the toddler-group scene myself once, I know that there’s a whole soap opera going on there, but Fiona is the only writer I’m aware of who has written it.
The Diary of a (Trying to Be Holy) Mum is Fiona Lloyd’s first book. I happen to know that its title was going to be ‘The Jesus on the Bus’. If you want to know why, read it. Instant Apostle is, of course, a Christian publishing group, and the Christian theme in this book is more overt than in any other Instant Apostle book I’ve read, but other people should be charmed by this honest attempt ‘to be a pilgrim’ (part-quote from John Donne).
The Diary of a (Trying to Be Holy) Mum is available from Instant Apostle.