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Alexandra Schulman’s Notebook: Nobody is perfect – so don’t expect moms to be


Olivia Colman has already garnered Best Actress nominations from the Golden Globe and London Critics Circle for her role as Leda in The Lost Daughter, which opened in cinemas last week. The main theme of the film is what it means to be a mother, and more importantly, it asks the audience: Is Lida a bad mother?

Against the backdrop of recent weeks—as we’ve learned about the very outrageous abuse of the Hobson star by her mother and stepmother, and the fate of Arthur Labingo Hughes—Leda’s flaws are a little beer.

However, the film highlights the often overlooked problem of how often women find it difficult to play a role that society would expect them to come naturally.

Coleman, along with co-stars Jesse Buckley (who plays the younger Lida) and Dakota Johnson, subtly but powerfully define volatile emotions, so that many moms recognize love, fear, frustration, delight, boredom…it can go on.

Olivia Colman has already garnered Best Actress nominations from the Golden Globe and London Critics Circle for her performance as Leda in The Lost Daughter (pictured), which opened in cinemas last week.

Most, but not all, women want to be mothers. However, until that happens, we have no real idea what that involves. Yes, we have our moms as models and we see friends with their kids. But unless we have that weak little person in charge of us, it’s impossible to imagine what the experience might look like.

I vividly remember leaving the safe hospital with my husband carrying our son in the car seat, then driving home to our empty house and realizing that we were now responsible for the life of a very young person.

It was very terrifying. I had no idea how to take care of this precious newcomer who, it seemed, might be in danger at any moment. How would I feel confident if I spent one second without him in my eyes? This basic fear mixed with exhaustion and deep love remained for many years.

Even now, 26 years later, the anxiety and adoration still linger — though, thankfully, the burnout is over.

Pictured: Alexandra Shulman

Pictured: Alexandra Shulman

In The Lost Daughter, we see in Leda a woman who at some point simply cannot handle, in her words, the “overwhelming responsibility” of children. Without spoiling the plot, she does what many women tend to do but few do: she puts her identity and her job as an academic ahead of her children.

Call it escape, call it desertion, call it self-indulgence—it’s not what we think of as good mother behavior. As Leda grapples with this decision — right and wrong, and the places in between — so does the viewer.

We all like to be perfect moms (although most of us would find it hard to describe what that might be). But in order to function as mothers, we have to hold on to something from ourselves before our new role stifles us.

It’s one of the many reasons I felt so fortunate to have worked in an office all my child’s life. It may have seemed at times that it was impossible to get the right balance. But it was definitely easier than trying to work with a crying baby outside the door. This has undoubtedly helped me avoid the struggle to find value in my life outside the crucible of being a good mother.

It is impossible to crack the puzzle of the nest eggs

I’ve reached that age where my pension has become obsessed with me. Retirement, a word that for many years has only existed somewhere on the horizon, has suddenly become close and personal. I have, as is generally advised, employed some professionals to help me make decisions and to have a degree of clarity about the right course of action. But it turns out that clarity is not easy to get.

Thanks to rule changes a few years ago, we’re all free to turn our pensions from old-fashioned final payroll schemes into a bowl of cash that we can access when we choose.

But the city regulator is so intimidated that we might make a horrible—and irreversible—mistake in putting together a maze of regulations that leave advisors completely unable to provide you with any information without hedging it with double or even triple negatives. All I need to know is what to do with the pension I registered after working away for 30 years. There is no clear answer.

Rome or Eddie? It’s not a contest

Seats at the popular Eddie Redmayne cabaret are only available at £250 until late March when selection changes. I would have paid £100, maybe a little more, but £500 a pair? This is a trip to Paris or Rome.

The cabaret, like many plays, was forced to close as theaters took another hit from Covid. Although, if we want our theater to be an experience for everyone and encourage the younger generation to be theater goers, how does it make sense to charge such a price?

Seats at Eddie Redmayne's popular nightclub are only available at £250 until late March when the cast changes.  I would have paid £100, maybe a little more, but £500 a pair?

Seats at the popular Eddie Redmayne cabaret are only available at £250 until late March when selection changes. I would have paid £100, maybe a little more, but £500 a pair?

Why do only people like me get an injection?

The queue for reinforcements at our local library veered about several blocks from 10am-4pm, and we were there for nearly four hours.

The appeal was open to anyone over the age of 18, but the crowd was roughly white, middle-class over thirty, despite the demographic diversity in our area. Was this the famous vaccine frequency among young people and some ethnic minorities? Or do many employers not give people time off work to get an appeal?

I decorated the halls – with cardboard

Our family did a lot of online shopping, the lobby looks like a Royal Mail depot. The packaging is out of control. Where are the infinite charges placed with a tape stuck over them and cannot be put into recycling?

Forget the advances we are sent into space or the male contraceptive pill. The invention of a self-combusting cardboard box will be much more useful.

Back to lunch, dear friends!

Going to a restaurant right now has more than a whiff of cordite around it with Omicron cases rising. We took advantage of being able to get a table anywhere at the last minute, but there’s an undeniable sense of adventure on the battlefield, heading into battle, and hope of getting out unscathed.



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