I’m a recent convert to Love Island. In fact, it would be more accurate to say I have become obsessed. I’m not going to defend it in any way. I’ve read an article trying to convince us that it’s an interesting dissection of society today and another article that even tried to call it the most feminist show in recent years. That’s all bollocks. It’s mind-numbingly, soul-achingly bad; it’s worse than The Real Housewives and it’s worse than Keeping Up With The Kardashians but it’s become as necessary to me and my mental wellbeing as the the tiny little pill I take each day to stave off depression. That’s a pretty big claim, right? I know. I’ve told myself a million times not to exaggerate but bear with me because if you’re a mum, you’ll understand why I NEED shit TV in my life.
All day, everyday I’m on duty. Before I’ve even had a chance to make a brew in the morning, Billie has said my name nearly 100 times. I try not to let my irritation show, but it’s really hard when you haven’t even had a chance to finish the answer to the first questions before she launches into the second…each one prefaced by, ‘Mama’.
Of course, with each ‘Mama’ thrown out there, there’s a requirement for me to do something. It might be to get them water, wipe their bum, tell them how flowers are made, get more milk, add more cheerios, explain why they can’t have TV yet, tell them what we’re doing today. From the moment I wake up, someone is either touching me or saying my name and demanding stuff from me. For me, THIS is the hardest thing about motherhood.
It’s the relentless nature of the beast. It’s not having a minute to form a thought, or finish a job before a small person is requesting something of me. It’s constantly being covered in sticky hands, sticky emissions, dirt. It’s keeping them alive when the won’t sit still and throughout all of this is the steady, metronomic repetition of ‘Mama’.
It goes without saying that I love my kids and I love being their mama but I wouldn’t be human if, throughout all of this, I didn’t crave just a hot quiet minute when someone wasn’t grabbing, asking, demanding, crying, shouting, talking, screeching. Even the cat screams at me because he wants to go out or come in or get more food. Sometimes it just gets too much.
Enter Love Island. When Jimmy-Plays-Bass came home from tour the other day I said I just need to lie in the spare room for the afternoon.
“Are you really tired baby?” he asked, concerned.
“Not really. I just need to be somewhere were everyone else isn’t.”
And that included him. I just needed to lie in a room, on my own, with my headphones on and Love Island and escape. I wanted to think of nothing else other than how I could personally get Johnny kicked out of the villa and why anyone finds Kem attractive. I wanted to watch young, carefree people shag their way through the summer without a care in their sun-drenched world and I wanted to do it without interruption. I just wanted to complete check out of mum-life for an afternoon.
So I did and for a whole afternoon I enjoyed the luxury of not hearing my name once, of not being grabbed, or pinched, or prodded or jumped on. I didn’t have to get anyone water with ice. I didn’t have to remind anyone to say please and thank you and when I was done, I felt much better about the whole thing. The reality is, I just don’t have the headspace for anything more taxing than Love Island or The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. When the kids are asleep, and after I’ve tidied up the war zone that my house resembles, I need passive entertainment. That’s all I’ve got brain space for. Vacuous chat amongst people with asses that allow me to live vicariously through them and remember the time I could pull off a body con dress…THAT is what I want from my TV.
It’s the same with books too. I used to make a point of reading the Booker Prize Shortlist. Now I couldn’t even tell you who has won the Booker Prize for the last four years. If it isn’t Jodi Picoult or Patricia Cornwell or Stephen King…I’m not interested. If it doesn’t make for good beach reading i.e. a narrative that I can keep track off three margaritas down, then I’m out.
And you know what? It’s the same with friends. When you’ve got zero energy and zero enthusiasm for making small talk, you wanna hang with the people that don’t mind you dribbling into a cup of tea while you struggle to remember your own name. Since having kids I’ve met some AMAZING women both through the internet and in my local area. I couldn’t wish for a better, more supportive circle of women around me but the minute I smell bullshit, I’m not interested. I don’t have the time or energy to make space for people that are going to make me feel shit about myself or going to make me defend my choices. It’s not mean, it’s just survival.
So, that’s why I need shit TV and why it’s ok for every single one of you to find an outlet. Sure, I wish my outlet was spinning classes, or running but you know what, it’s reality TV and for now, that’s ok.