When I was 14, I really loved girl group Eternal and, like a true fan, I bought her solo album when Louise Redknapp left the band to do her own thing. 20 years on, I am still #TeamLouise as she receives a barrage of abuse for leaving Jamie from people who, quite frankly, should know better (Lorraine Kelly I am looking at you).
Louise Redknapp was a former member of girl band Eternal, before embarking on a highly successful solo career. Eternal were hugely successful, becoming the first all-girl group to sell over 1 million copies of an album in the UK with their debut album ‘Always & Forever’, and remain the top selling girl band of the 90’s with over 10 Million Records sold. Louise went solo in 1995 and her first album, Naked, produced 5 hits and sold over 1 million copies. In 1997, Louise embarked on her first UK tour, selling out at over 20 venues across the country including Wembley Arena. Louise released a further 4 albums over the next few years selling 5 Million records in the process before a Greatest Hits UK tour. Louise hit the UK Top 5 again with “Pandora’s Kiss” in 2003. – Louise Redknapp Official
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 a successful turn at modelling. Now, after living the life of (in her own words) a ‘Stepford Wife‘, she’s left the marital home to get back on the stage with a headline role in Cabaret and to hang out with some party people like Daisy Lowe and Will Young.
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, and that she’s being selfish with her life choices. She’s even had criticism from fellow TV personality and parent Lorraine Kelly who said that she didn’t understand why she couldn’t hold down a career and look after her family when she, of all people, should know how difficult it can be.
The headline quote from lovely Louise 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.” Well, good on you girl – and 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, to pursue something which is just for me, and to retain some of the identity I had before taking on the ‘mother’ label which I very proudly wear. It’s a constant juggling act of work life, home life and actual life. 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 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 single 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. For example, my morning routine changed from a shower, styling and carefully picking an outfit to grabbing whatever I wore yesterday which doesn’t have a stain on it, 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 during it all. A supportive husband can lessen the burden but it doesn’t remove it completely. I only really started to feel like me again when I went back to work (part-time) 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.
Louise hasn’t come out to bad mouth Jamie or to give any real insight into their relationship which could paint him in a bad light. 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 as partners. They may want to be a strong and united parenting team for their two children rather than gradually fall into emotional disrepair and not be able to stand the sight of each other. This is what I hope for me and TJ’s dad.
Finally, paying attention to her own needs doesn’t make Louise 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 on her children and a better mother by not being shackled to a life which is simply 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 24/7? This doesn’t add up to a happy family. This adds up to disappointment and disaster. Louise, get on your dancing shoes and show the world that life can indeed be a cabaret however you choose to play the part.