I went to see the movie “Mamma Mia” a few days ago. I’d heard a lot about how it was so good, and how some people had seen it 10 times, etc. I knew that it was set to the music of ABBA and it was supposed to be really fun.

I actually was feeling really down on the day I saw it – I went to the afternoon showing and hoped it would cheer me up. I was hoping it would transport me to another reality for a few hours, one that didn’t contain demanding children, drudgery, chores, and work, work, work.

Boy, did it ever. The movie was set in the beautiful Greek Islands with lots of singing, dancing, good friends and a don’t-give-up-on-your-dreams theme. And I cried the whole way through it.

It was so depressing for me! I went to the Greek islands with my good friend Linda B. in my twenties and had a blast. Before I had children, I travelled the world – often at a moment’s notice.

That’s even how I met my husband. He was in Hong Kong and I was in Vancouver, on Wednesday he said, “If I send you a ticket, will you come?” Sure! We’d met on the phone and had never even seen a photo of each other. I arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday and 3 days later we were engaged. Six months later we were married. That was 13 years ago and he’s still the love of my life.

Dreams? Oh yeah, I know a lot about dreams and have always followed mine.

Singing and dancing? – yep, used to do a shitload of that. Even worked as a singer/songwriter in London, UK, for 3 years. Used to dance the night away. Last time was 9 years ago.

Old and dear friendships? – yep, got some of those too. My friend Corey and I went to Tokyo after university to shoot the International Fashion Shows – we had formed a photography business together our last year of university and so were sponsored by the Edmonton Journal newspaper to go cover the shows. Our friend Linda O. came over 6 months later and the three of us had the time of our lives for the next 2 years. Then Corey and I went to London and Linda O. went home to Canada.

And where are all my good friends today? – I’m in Vancouver, Linda B. is in Edmonton, Corey is in London and Linda O. became an evangelical Christian who wants nothing to do with her former self/life. I don’t have a single friend I can just call up and say, “Let’s go for coffee” – and we do.

And so the movie “Mamma Mia” made me cry, the entire way through it. Because it kept reminding me of what I used to have, who I used to be and how much FUN that was.

And I compared it to my life now – which is just filled with SO much drudgery. What changed? I had children. Three of them. And while I – standard sentiment, but still so true – love them tremendously and wouldn’t give them up for anything, still, the majority of my life, on certain days, feels like a giant piece of shit.

It is so wearing having to serve other people all day long, every day. It is so draining to have to do the same things, the same routines, day after day. It is excruciating never having even 24 hours off. Not being able to rest when you are tired, not being able to eat when you are hungry. Because the childrens’ needs come first – because they are too young to do much of anything for themselves yet.

I thought it was just me.

Until I went to my daughter Zara’s first day of grade one and talked to another mother there about the movie. “Oh yes,” she said, “It made me cry too. When I came home I wanted to change everything about my life.”

Then a group of us talked about how none of us had any friends. And I don’t mean friends-acquaintances, I mean bosom-friends. Why? Because none of us were living where we grew up, or went to university.

“It’s so hard to make friends now,” said one of the moms, “it’s like trying to find a boyfriend, you have to go out, talk about everything, see if you’re compatible… who has the time? And it’s exhausting. Still, you have to try…”

And even if you do manage to find a true friend – you never get to see them. They’re so busy and involved with their own families, there’s very little time left for true friendships. I also know this since I’ve found 2 such friends in the 8 years since I had children, and no, not one of them has ever popped out for coffee with me. And yes, I have asked. Repeatedly.

If I hadn’t had such great friendships in the past, I would have serious complex by now. But I choose to interpret their actions as: It’s not about me, it’s about their schedules, priorities, guilt complexes, lack of babysitters, or helpful husbands. I hope.

And I wonder: Why don’t all those women’s magazines write about this phenomena of “friendship in the global economy”? Hello – no one has any! Because we all move around and no one has the time. Women are supposed to value other women so much, but let me tell you, there’s no woman that can compete with a woman’s children.

I have 3 wee ones and A business, but I will do whatever it takes to go out with a friend. And I would love to pop out for coffee or lunch on a regular basis. I would LOVE to have a girlfriend to meet once a week to gossip, moan and dream with. But even my single friend (married, no kids) doesn’t have time in her schedule for that.

Is the real truth that women don’t value friendship as highly as all the women’s mags tell us we do? Or is it that women don’t feel worthy or entitled to take that time for just themselves? I honestly don’t know.

I do remember talking to a friend of mine (again, a very good friend who lives an hour away and whom I see about once every 6 months) and she said something rather arresting to me, “Jini,” she said, “You want the whole fruit basket, whereas most of us are happy with just an apple.”

So maybe it is just me.

Cause yeah, I do think I should be able to have fabulous, healthy children, travel, adventure, fun, romance and bone-deep friendships (in the same city). And I’m rather pissed off that I don’t.


“Mamma Mia” Movie Made Me Cry
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7 thoughts on ““Mamma Mia” Movie Made Me Cry

  • Jini,
    I completely understand how you feel ! I too felt lost & so far from who I was prebabies. Its very hard to get through it without saying goodbye to your former self. I think its part of becoming a parent…for me anyhow. I was travelling, clubbing, singing in various bands & in the studio. I was very busy & wonderfully selfish ! I wasn’t aware of how completely isolating & lonely being a Mom can be; no time for yourself, not enough sleep EVER, no thankyous for all the work we do. I try to let my friends in on the truth, motherhood is very hard & we all mourn our old lives…yes, I love my children & they are the best thing I have done with my life but I miss my freedom too.
    I have tried really hard to go out with friends, do things JUST for me & maintain my relationships with my girlfriends. Not always easy to do ! I have a great guy that makes me do these things…I told him once that if I didn’t get to have these outlets I would go crazy & take the whole family with me !!!! I also make him go hang with his friends at least once a week. He plays in a band & I really encourage him to keep being creative. It works well because he then makes me find a creative outlet also !
    Know that you are not alone in your pain & I really related to what you have written. I think we need a mom night, no kids & good wine. Lets try to organize a night for the grade 1 moms to hangout…..Mondays are good for me.
    take care

  • Yeah, I miss that, too. I have a few friends that when we get together, it’s as if we’ve never been apart: there’s no gap in the conversation and complete sympathy and interest between us. But we don’t actually GET together very often. In that way, the relationships are very different from what they once were.

    I’ll be honest, too: it’s partly me. I’m busy with work and routine chore-type stuff and when I actually have time beyond those things, I guess I feel guilty if I’m not spending it with my kids. And maybe a sense of urgency, too. If I mess up, if I miss the time – not just quality, but quantity – it’s gone forever. My worst nightmare is that one of my kids ends up a drug addict or an alcoholic or troubled in some other way and it’s somehow my fault – I wasn’t there. So I guess I don’t take the initiative with my friends that often, either….certainly not like we did pre-children.

    And to some extent, I’m okay with that. But does the thought ever cross my mind: I hope you still HAVE friends when the kids are grown and gone? It does. And I look back and miss the carefree-ness (I know that’s not a real word) of earlier days. I just don’t know how to get some part of that back – or indeed, if I can.

  • Here is the single and child free gal’s version.
    I find too that it does seem to be either children or career that keeps people from meeting up regularly. I have a few girlfriends here in London and two of them are like me-not in a relationship and no kids. However, I still don’t seem them that often but I do speak on the phone and e-mail. One of them has a very stressful management role and works long hours. I may see her every two or three weeks. The other friend is such a homebody and on a budget that we rarely see each other but e-mail and speak on the phone often. I tell her she really needs to get out more often-no wonder she is single. Mind you I am out often and I am single.
    They both want a relationship and children and if they get that then I will probably never seem them. We are all in our forties though so time is running out….
    I have another friend who is married and I see her maybe every three weeks. She has a good career, no children and a serious dancing hobby. She is often meeting up with friends-she has a big network and usually flies out every weekend with her hubbie to their holiday flat in Nice so I try to meet up with her in the week and we usually see a movie. My other two friends who are somewhat younger are both married- one with three little ones and the other one is expecting. I rarely see the mom and the other friend is the main person I see almost weekly. I speak to her the most and we do lots of coffee together or movies and shopping. I do know though that this well come to an end when she has her little one. She is so much fun and supportive that her absence will be felt like a big bruise. Out of all those friends I would say I feel closest to two of them. I can confide in both and know they will be there for me. I have known them for over 10 years and met them through work. I feel pretty lucky to have friends at all especially as I live so far away from my own family in Canada but what I am trying to say is that it is also hard being “free” because you are often more alone than those with family responsibilities. I do like my own company but if I have friends who are rarely available then I am pretty much left to my own devices. I am not in a relationship and have no kids so my time is my own-to spend on my own!!!

    I think I am correct in saying that in Mamma Mia there was only one person in the movie who wasn’t tied down and that was Stellan Skarsgard’s character, the adventurer, the one who had the boat. Everyone else had kids or career. Meryl’s character had raised a child on her own and was trying to get her B&B up and running. I wonder what it was about the movie that spoke to women with children. I wonder what made you all cry. Is it the fact that you can’t just go on the internet and book a holiday to a Greek Island whenever you want? Maybe you identified with Meryl and the fact she did have a child to raise and probably rarely saw her two old friends and that it may be some time before she sees them again? Just wondering.

    Jini mentioned Tokyo and I idealise the time I spent in Tokyo with Jini and Linda. It was one of the best times of my life. I can’t replicate it. Tokyo was a special place and there was a great ex-pat community who were extremely sociable. I also miss the time I had in Edmonton with Jini and our friends Michael, Dean and Kerry.
    I felt so inspired by our little group and loved being involved in our photography sessions and going for coffee and cheesecake discussing art and fashion. I don’t have that kind of community here to draw on. Most of my friends now are in finance or healthcare or IT. I still love photography and do my own thing but at the moment I don’t even have a muse. I have to have a Muse!! My last boyfriend was my muse and I got some good shots with him. Some people don’t want to be photographed-how do you find a muse let alone a good friend?

    Speaking of good friend-Jini is a true friend. When she decided to leave London I felt like she was leaving me. I felt like a child who had their training wheels taken away before it was time. However, I was ready to go it alone as I had been taught how to without even realising I could. Jini was the one person in my life who believed in me and thought I could do whatever I put my mind to if I worked hard enough to achieve it. My own family never gave me that kind of support or belief in myself. I think that should be made mandatory-all parents should provide that-it’s the basics!!
    Her favourite phrase nowadays to get me to do something is “stop dickin’ around!” I love she hasn’t lost her edge. Anyone would be a fool not to want to be friends with Jini.
    Okay, I am rambling now

  • I just watched the movie and had the complete opposite reaction.

    My daughter will be a senior in high school next year and next year will be “Our Last Summer”. We are planning on going to UK/France so “walks along the Seine” etc had tearing up.

    Then when Merryl sings “slipping through my fingers” I was pretty close to full fledged crying.

    I don’t long for the past, I wish I had more of the present as I know this is “as good as it gets”.

    Btw, I’m a dude with a serious career, and my kids and my wife are my everything.

    But at the end of the day life is a matter of choices. There are trade-offs and we all need to live in the way that minimizes our regrets.

    Savor it, as you only get one.

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