Reading the news that Cardi B has pulled out of her tour with Bruno Mars in the autumn as she isn’t ready to leave her baby and has stated she ‘underestimated this whole mommy thing’ made me well up in tears because it took me right back to having my first baby, Oliver, now 8 and the sheer shock and confusion a new baby brings. Like Cardi B, I’d signed up to direct a project whilst pregnant in my case to start when he was 12 weeks old thinking he’d fit in on set and normality would ensue. One traumatic birth later and the realities of child birth and rearing meant I too had to pull out.
I was utterly naive to have agreed in the first place, but it wasn’t my fault. No one had explained the enormity of motherhood to me.
Every woman on the planet undergoes mammoth emotional and physical change when they have a baby, it’s impossible not to, and in my case it could a year to return to any semblance of normality and being able to direct once again (and even then I wasn’t happy being apart from my son).
I found the fact Cardi B firstly cancelled and secondly, spoke up with such transparency on her reasons for doing so, truly admirable. We are frankly STARVING for these honest conversations on motherhood (the highs but vitally the lows) and for someone so high profile to illustrate that yes, having a baby is a big bloody deal (literally and metaphorically) and requires time, energy and focus and the very real need of being close to one another made me want to get up and slow clap.
Why have we not been privy to message like this, on this scale before please? Why is there not enough respect paid to mothers, famous or otherwise for childbirth and bringing up children?
The pressure to be supermum and get back to work asap or snap back into shape and feel the same as you did before the biggest milestone of your life, is MADNESS, and yes, while some women have no choice on when maternity leave ends and others do indeed naturally snap back into shape naturally, the majority of us don’t, and most of us certainly aren’t ready to return to our old lives quickly, however exciting our careers might be.
Acknowledging this fact feels a special kind of epic, like Pandora’s box has let out the final secret on motherhood (especially in light of those perfect, possibly photo-shopped images of a Beyonce holding her baby twins in an act of glorifying motherhood in my opinion) and the fact that it’s a turning point, in 2018, is ludicrous in itself but we women and mothers are STILL being handed the short straw when it comes to making babies and making dollar. We’re operating in a workforce founded on inequality and inflexibility, and no more so than in the male dominated media industry.
On set, at 6 months pregnant I distinctly remember a Sound Man turning to me in front of the entire crew I was leading, and asking whether I was worried about my career now that I was pregnant, especially after winning industry awards (Channel 4 etc) as a director.
The fact that he felt comfortable to ask me that and try to humiliate me, intentionally or otherwise is an example of the inequality of the industry but even sadder was the fact that he had a point. Having a baby at 28 as my directing career was starting to make huge waves WAS a risk to my career (only 7% of women were directors then, it’s now a dire 4%) and while I returned to directing when my son was 1, I was broken-hearted to be apart from him for 3 weeks in Manchester filming while he was in Leeds, and I spent the majority of my time feeling physically sick, desperate to be with him. It felt unnatural not to be with him.
Thankfully, blogging exploded soon after enabling me to pivot from traditional filmmaking to blogging and vlogging: a flexible career which worked around my kids, from home, limiting mum guilt with every post, while providing me with a well paid, creative career. It was a chance, and continues to be a career that allows me to HAVE IT ALL, whatever that means.
Hats off to Cardi B for deciding to have it all too.
Her career will still be there when she’s ready to return to it, along with lots more opportunity to tour and her experience as a mother will no doubt inform and nourish her work in ways she can’t even begin to imagine (how it has mine).
Vitally, Cardi B and her baby will feel happier and healthier, physically and emotionally and nothing beats that. Not even singing on stage with Bruno Mars.
Read more about my experiences as a Mumboss in my book HERE.