Thursday, April 7, 2011

375. Motherhood is Raw

raw (ra) adj. orig. German 1. not cooked 2. in its natural condition; not processed (raw silk) 3. inexperienced (a raw recruit) 4. abraded and sore 5. uncomfortably cold and damp (a raw wind) 6. brutal, coarse, indecent, etc. 7. (Colloq.) harsh or unfair (a raw deal) —in the raw 1. in the natural state 2. naked —raw’ness n.

At first glance, Webster’s seems wrong about the not cooked part. I know what you’re thinking: But I’m cooking for my kids all the time—I never leave the stove! However, in my house, I feed my sons raw food (carrots, broccoli, green beans, apples). If you happened to be standing in my kitchen witnessing our lunch or snack time, you’d (wrongly) assume MOV is a "great" parent, she obviously cares about her kids’ nutritional intake. Ha! The reality is: I’m pressed for time, with a dash of laziness thrown in. Plus I don’t know how to cook. This adds up to rinse and go, not cook and burn.

A Virgo’s natural condition is clean, organized, put away, and appealing. My house is the exact opposite of the Virgo definition. I have had to modify my thinking and learn a child’s natural condition: messy, messy, and messy. (Similar to the old real estate mantra of location, location, location.) My life is a perpetual battle: Virgo vs. Boys. Usually the boys are winning, but every once in a while, Virgo takes the lead (don’t cheer yet, it’s always just temporary).

Inexperienced. Is this the understatement of the decade? Can you imagine any other job on the planet where someone gives you a live human being to care for without bothering to check your references? Teachers have earned Master’s degrees in their field and attend continued education seminars. Nannies go through rigorous training (including state-mandated infant CPR), and withstand detailed background checks. Even potential dog owners are thoroughly investigated and often rejected. But when hospital personnel send new moms home with their babies, they don’t seem dismayed by minor details like lack of training, education, experience, references, and pesky qualifications (“Ever held a baby? Nope? Well, that’s okay, here you go! Try not to drop her!”).

My entire body has been abraded and sore from the moment I gave birth, and has never been the same since. My back hurts from lifting small children. My head hurts from lack of sleep. My ears hurt from listening to crying (sometimes it’s the children’s crying, but often it’s my own). Motherhood is one long endurance race, and I’m losing.

Motherhood is uncomfortably cold and damp. Breast milk oozing, babies spitting up, diapers, leaking—it is one big festival of wet. As my sons got older, I thought I would be immune from the cold and damp. Standing in the rain at the school bus stop, attending soccer games in the mud, and endless swimming lessons proved me wrong. My best advice to prospective parents? Invest in some nice towels—you’ll be getting a lot of use out of them.

The hours of motherhood are brutal, coarse, and indecent. Before I was a mom, I’d overhear mothers at my local Starbucks whisper conspiratorially, “Parenthood is a 24/7 job,” and then they’d all nod solemnly to each other as if they’d cracked some secret code. I remember thinking that they were exaggerating. I mean, come on, you big bunch of whiners! Babies are always taking naps. Moms must get a lot of free time.

Oh, how wrong I was. Midnight feedings, colic, teething, wet diapers, growing pains, hunger, thirst, boredom, injuries, fever … it’s a wonder my babies ever slept at all. And if I was able to pry myself away from my (needy) baby, I had a (needy) house to attend to: dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty bathrooms, unmade beds. My life was an endless loop of feed baby/ clean up/ feed baby/ clean up. I could never get ahead, let alone find time for unnecessary luxuries like sleep.

I look in the mirror and am shocked to see not the Hollywood ideal of a mom (cute, perky, Kate Hudson), but instead the reality of my unvarnished mommy life (old, getting older, when did I get so old?). This is indeed harsh and unfair. Hospitals should be required by law to provide new mothers with their own MGM make-up artists, who should accompany them everywhere.

I am living in the natural state, and that state is exhaustion. I’m not naked though, and for that we can all be thankful.



  1. just remember all the Hollywood moms have "people" that do all the damp, cold, brutal and indecent things for them. That's why they look so "put together". :o)

  2. ah, yes, the "people" to do all the stuff. Here is my fantasy list of my (future?)Hollywood staff of "people": maid, chef, personal trainer, gardener, nanny, accountant, laundry do-er (this is different than maid, all she would do is laundry), chauffeur, stylist, hairdresser, general errand-runner, and household manager. (Then I could just sit by my dream pool and drink margaritas.)
    Confession time: I *DO* have a staff. A staff of three-- Me, Myself, and I. Sometimes they are lazy and do not show up to work. Sometimes they bicker amongst themselves. They constantly whine that they need a raise, and yet I pay them nothing. :)


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