Have you got the Monday morning blues? It doesn’t help that it’s cold and wet. Last night I watched Shirley Valentine. The last time I watched this film must be about 20 years ago. I cried my way through it (with a few laughs in between), I didn’t expect to feel the way I did and it has left me feeling a bit shell shocked if I’m honest.
Probably everyone knows the story; the film is based on the narrative of one character, a wife and mother played by Pauline Collins. Shirley’s children have grown up and flown the nest and she is left wondering who she is – her identity as a women in her own right and her dreams as a young woman have been eroded over the years through subservience to an ungrateful humourless husband and children who only see her in terms of what she can do for them.
The film was made in the 1980’s, and Shirley is a housewife of that generation. Nowadays of course a lot of mothers work and strive to maintain an identity outside the home, but does that come at a price? I am not convinced that men have taken on sufficient domestic tasks to enable women to achieve this ‘balance’ without feeling utterly frazzled and drained, in addition to the added pressure some women have put upon themselves to become the perfect ‘Instamum’ – a benchmark that is unrealistic and unachievable, whether you feel inadequate next to the perfect ‘homemade cookie mum’, or strive to achieve the perfect body through hours of punishing workouts, maintain a beautifully decorated scandi-style home, raise high achieving kids all whilst having an enviable social life and obligatory ‘date nights’.
Is this not just another trap that has been set in the same way that Shirley felt suffocated in a daily cycle of drudgery? One of my favourite moments in the film is when Shirley’s outwardly ‘perfect’ neighbour appears on her doorstep with a present for Shirley before she leaves for Greece. She confesses that she wishes she had the nerve to run away too. As appealing as it sounds most of us can’t just hop on a plane to Greece and enjoy a holiday romance to ‘find ourselves’. And I wouldn’t want to, I love my husband and kids, if anything, I want an adventure with them too! (More on that another day..)
For now I have decided to embrace the non perfect me! My house is a tip (most of the time) sometimes I don’t have time or the energy to cook a perfectly balanced meal and we eat egg and chips (as per the film). I almost certainly haven’t got the energy to achieve a perfectly toned body and I’m not even going to start trying. I have also woken up to the fact that Instagram, Facebook et al are just that, instant – ergo not a true reflection of the reality.
I am also going to do one thing that I do think is very worthwhile, plan a holiday, somewhere warm and give us something to look forward to and in the meantime I am going to treat myself every day, take time out of the routine to look after me, be that reading a good book, watching a film, having a chat on the phone to a good friend, lighting a nice candle and doing some yoga or going for a bracing walk.
Look after yourself,
Until next time,