Comedian Olivia Lee’s new album aims to help mums laugh at the ridiculous pressures they face today as a way to vent their stress.
Comedian Olivia Lee’s new album was born out of “a perfect storm”: she was struggling as a mum and as part of her research for a project she did some life coaching courses which placed a big emphasis on meditation and being positive. The clash between her messy life as a mum and the stress on positivity at all costs was too much. Olivia decided to create her own version of mindfulness for mums. The result is her album, Mindful Mum: How Not To Lose Your Total F*cking Shit.
It’s a rip-roaring takedown of the pressure on mums to be perfect in all manner of ways. There are meditation chants such as the title track, “How not to hate him” and “How not to be a perfect mother”.
“I hope it takes some of the pressure off mums,” she says. That pressure comes from all sides – the so-called double shift that is still the reality of so many women.
Olivia admits she found it really hard transitioning from career woman to mum, although she loves her son, who is nearly four, very much. “I felt very resentful and frustrated,” she says. “I needed somewhere to put that. Meditation didn’t work. It was like papering over a festering pit of rage. I needed to get that negativity out rather than suppressing it.”
Her album is about being truthful and embracing that negativity, she says. “When you get angry you push for change and to get your voice heard.”
She is now turning the album into a live show and has been researching female anger and all the subconscious messages that women receive to suppress it.
For Olivia laughter is a brilliant antidote to all the pressure and pretence associated with motherhood. “It’s vital to be able to laugh at yourself and be honest about things. The servitude of motherhood can be overwhelming, but being honest doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. Laughter is good for the soul.”
Olivia adds that being realistic about the human experience is good for children too and helps to ensure they, like their mothers, remain sane. “Being more honest about what we feel helps us to connect more with others,” she says.
She thinks it can be harder for female comedians to talk about their feelings about being a parent than men. Comedians like Michael McIntyre talk a lot about being a dad, but she says it is “less palatable” to see women on stage saying that they don’t enjoy motherhood. Nevertheless, she says the feedback she has had so far about the album has been very good. “Lots of men are getting it for their wives and it’s amazing to receive messages from mums who say it has really helped them and made them feel less alone. It puts a smile on my face,” says Olivia.
Her favourite track on the album is “How not to hate him”. “It makes me chuckle,” she says. “By venting you actually feel more loving, by having a rant and getting the resentment off your chest you can be nice to them,” she says, adding that she thinks her husband hasn’t heard that track yet.
In fact, she says, he is very feminist and hands on with their son. He is also a comedian and, if she is working, he can take over. She jokes that women should ask men on their first date what their views are on childcare.
Olivia is still working on her album-inspired comedy show, describing it as “a work in progress”. She will be airing it first at the Bill Murray comedy club in Islington on 11th and 12th October.