There’s been a lot of press about Angelina Jolie recently: her recent split with Brad Pitt and the breakdown of her family unit have, she says, taken a toll on her health. She revealed in her Vanity Fair cover story that she had suffered from Bell’s Palsy – damage to facial nerves that cause your face to droop - and has had to take some time out for herself.
“Sometimes women in families put themselves last... until it manifests itself in their own health," Jolie, 42, said in the piece.
It struck me immediately: she said she felt more of a woman and mother than ever before because she was now putting herself first occasionally and making sure she is well herself, both physically and mentally.
It’s a place many women find themselves in. Before you know it you are a wife, a mother, an employee, a boss, a sister, an auntie, a God-mum, a best friend, a home maker, a travel planner, a candlestick maker! Where did I go? Am I still very much in tune with the woman who attracted all these roles and relationships in the first place?
Essentially, have I lost my mojo because I'm too busy looking after everyone else’s?
As soon as I read it I locked in with what she was saying and it's a practice I'm definitely going to try and put into action. A quick message round my other new-mum-friends reveals it is small pleasures they hone in on; pedicures, monthly massages, going for a run, a bath with a book…
Interesting isn't it that the first few replies were beauty based? I wondered if it was a personal fulfilment to be preened and sparkly, or a 2017 admission that if you look well-groomed and well presented on the outside that you're completely nailing this parent thing and no-it-hasn't changed me.
I must admit, every day that I was at home when my daughter Etta was a tiny baby, I would make a point of getting up and putting my make up on. Just a personal choice and I know I had quite an easy few months compared to others but that's just what worked for me. It definitely did help me feel a bit more with it.
Having a bank balance like Angelina would of course help, LOADS - especially with the option of being able to afford an extra pair of hands, but that is for the lucky few. Organisation seems to be the key here.
When writing the daily to do list give yourself a column too, buy a handbag with compartments where you can separate the Mary Poppins enormity of a woman’s handbag into some form of clarity. Think, plan, do. I guess that's the key? And I know, so easy to write but I have to start this chapter somewhere...
The same goes for planning for the next day maybe too? One friend missed picking an outfit for herself instead of just throwing on whatever was nearest. It’s a common scene isn’t it – an immaculately, brilliantly dressed child and their mum still rocking that jeans and t shirt combo they bought in H&M four years ago, now with baby food just down the right-hand side (I’m completely describing myself here).
Trying to be superwoman is an easy hole to fall into no doubt and I promise this isn’t meant to be a ‘poor me, aren’t I busy’ column. To the contrary, I feel lucky that I’m so busy and I wouldn’t change it for the world but after reading Angelina's interview I felt like it rang home, that it is our responsibility to make sure we are looking after ourselves as well as our partners and our little compadres, and we will most certainly do a better job if we're calm, content and have everything under control.
I’m in the process of booking an end-of-year holiday. I once flew to Bangkok on New Year’s Eve and it was the best holiday I’d ever had. I loved the feeling of waking up hangover free in a new country with an adventure ahead. Within 24 hours we were poolside with a Singha beer and a view I’d only ever seen on postcards. That is how I reset my energy and my mind – travel. Knowing that I’ve got something coming up, or planning the next one.
When I get home tonight I’m going to actually sit down and punch in the credit card details for the flight. If I procrastinate any more I’ll end up in a soggy campsite in Dorset and it won’t be quite the dream I had in mind.
I’m also going to need a pedicure aren’t I for the trip itself, so best get going.
Words: Danielle Perry
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