When the first Sex and the City feature film came out, my baby was still under one. My rather posh post-antenatal group arranged to meet for a mother-and-baby viewing at a local cinema, but I had to drop out for some reason – probably another infant cold. Kind of rueful about stooping to indulge in such girly trash at the time, I never troubled to make good the cultural deficit until last week, when I caught most of the film on TV.
What struck me straight away, of course, watching it between wiping sticky juice puddles from the living room floor, was the fact that although now two of the four SATC “girls” are mothers of small children, how little this seems to affect their ability to meet for leisured chats in designer gear at smart locations. Even when the children are nominally present, they obligingly play quietly by themselves or on mummy’s lap, allowing the girly conversation to continue uninterrupted. How realistic is that?
Now I do understand – this also applies to that BBC Radio 4 institution The Archers – that, seeing as babies and children are not the focus of this drama, some poetic license must permit those protagonists who happen to be parents to continue to participate in full in the main action. Fine. Sex and the City is not, primarily, about motherhood. It does purport, however, to be about women’s lives, in a way that The Archers doesn’t, and for that reason (lip-) glossing over the daily struggle that is new parenthood is less forgivable. Young viewers should not, even implicitly, be deceived.
Which brings me to mummylit. Mummylit is allegedly chicklit’s big sister, or novels about what really happens to “the girls” after they get pregnant. Now I have to admit that my intimate acquaintance with this genre is limited to public transport advertising posters; you know, the ones which go “She used to be a go-getting sort of gal, the kind who’d follow her heart to Rio on a whim etc . . . But now she’s stuck in the suburbs with two screaming kids and a monosyllabic husband . . “
For more personal reasons this time, I feel less than inspired. While I don’t doubt that, like Allison Pearson’s novel I Don’t Know How She Does It, these volumes bare all and more with plenty of “quirky” humour when it comes to the daily crises of modern family life (which is great), I cannot muster a grain of sympathy for wistful maternal nostalgia for a former spirited Sex and The City-style existence: parties, fashion, spontaneous larks, glamorous careers, risqué flirtations etc.
My pre-motherhood existence could be summarized as: failed-artist, frustrated radical journalist, lonely travelling bum turned sad-middle-aged-spinster. Haven’t seen many mummylit posters advertising books purporting to be about former any of those. Just not yummy enough I suppose.