When I was 14, I really loved girl group Eternal. I even bought her solo album when Louise Redknapp left the band. 20 years on, I am still #TeamLouise as she receives a barrage of abuse for leaving Jamie from people who should know better. Lorraine Kelly, I am looking at you.
Strictly Come Dancing stunner and 90’s pop princess Louise Redknapp recently announced that she was leaving her footballer husband Jamie after 19 years of marriage. She had forged a life raising her two children Charley, 13, and Beau, 8, after appearing on many a ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ album and modelling. Now, after living the life of (in her own words) a ‘Stepford Wife‘, Louise Redknapp announced that she has left the marital home. She got back on the stage with a starring role in Cabaret and hung out with party people like Daisy Lowe and Will Young instead. Good for her.
Gossip, gossip, gossip
The online world is full of chatter about this. Comments largely focus on how she’s a bad parent for abandoning her children. Why would she want to leave Jamie when he hasn’t cheated on her? Isn’t she being selfish with her life choices? She’s even had criticism from fellow parent Lorraine Kelly who said that she didn’t understand why she couldn’t hold down a career and look after her family.
The headline quote from Louise Redknapp is that after Strictly: “I didn’t want to continue running around after everyone else, and occasionally promoting a yoghurt or doing a little TV presenting job. I wanted to sing, I wanted to perform … and that is when s**t hit the fan.” Again, good for you – for so many reasons.
People like me may well be working mums out of necessity to pay for stuff and people like Louise Redknapp probably don’t need to worry about that. But, I also work to keep hold of my sense of self. I want to pursue something which is just for me and to retain some of the identity I had before taking on the ‘mother’ role. It’s a constant juggling act of work life, home life and actual life.
My marriage wasn’t eternal, either
But sometimes, something has just got to give. I know this because it happened to me only a couple of months ago when I left the marital home. Much like Louise Redknapp says of Jamie, TJ’s dad never did anything to hold me back. But, a desire and pining for more balance in my life came from me and only me. This also doesn’t make me a failure as a mum. I adore every centimetre of my little man and I will continue to devote my life to the happy, healthy and hilarious boy he is.
That doesn’t come easily, though. Within the blink of an eye, everything changes from putting your own needs first to putting even your most basic needs last. My morning routine changed from a shower, styling and carefully picking an outfit. It’s now about grabbing whatever I wore yesterday which isn’t stained, dry shampooing my neglected hair and cleaning the smears off my glasses.
Breakfast changed from a leisurely affair with some trashy TV to wishing my toaster was faster, repeatedly cleaning a toddler’s sticky fingers and mainlining coffee. It’s a relentless cycle and it’s so easy to lose yourself in it all. A supportive husband can lessen the burden but doesn’t remove it completely. I only started to feel like me again when I went back to work after 10 months of battling baby weight, sleepless nights and expressing breast milk. I can only imagine that, for people like Louise Redknapp, this sharp comparison between a former life and a mum life is even more acute.
Keeping it a clean break
Louise Redknapp hasn’t come out to bad mouth Jamie or to give any negative insight into their relationship. On the contrary, she’s still confessing undying love for him and that they spent 20 good years together. The cynics amongst us may think this is PR fluff but I am not one of those people. A relationship doesn’t have to be fundamentally flawed to just simply not work. It could be that Jamie and Louise may just be better as friends than partners. They may want to be a strong and united parenting team for their two children rather than gradually falling into emotional disrepair. This is what I hope for me and TJ’s dad.
Finally, paying attention to her own needs doesn’t make Louise Redknapp a bad person. It makes her a brave, resilient and strong woman who will ultimately be a much better role model for her children. Personal fulfilment may well make her a happier person, a positive influence and a better mother by not being shackled to a life which is not for her. So, why should any one of us settle? Why should anyone stay stuck in an oppressive life when they are pining for something else? Why is it only acceptable that you’re a ‘good parent’ if you’re all under the same roof? This doesn’t add up to a happy family. This adds up to disappointment and disaster.
Louise Redknapp, get on your dancing shoes and show the world that life can indeed be a cabaret however you choose to play the part.