I came across a funny mommy blogger (www.mondayswithmac.com) who asked for submissions that compare motherhood to traveling to foreign locales for an audience of would-be mothers and expectant mothers. I have composed my postcard after giving some long, hard thought to which of my travel experiences most compare to my motherhood experiences. I thought about India or Venice or Vancouver or Ikea. But you know what, I need look no further than the good old U.S. of A. That’s where I have had a travel experience that most compares to what I experience in motherhood.
Ya’ll, I give you my postcard from Mardi Gras.
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Buckle up, Mama, you are in for the time of your life. Motherhood is like Mardi Gras in four fundamental ways. It goes without saying that the hours are the same– roughly all night long and all day long. The food is a little better at Mardi Gras and there’s a little more company (what with the parades and all), but overall, it’s uncanny how similar they are.
Without further ado, here’s the four ways motherhood is Mardi Gras without all the creole food.
1. The Breasts. In motherhood, I found myself with my breasts exposed ALL. THE. TIME. In front of my mother-in-law’s boyfriend, in front of my therapist, in front of the street crew fixing a parking structure downtown. The only other time I exposed my breasts that much was during Mardi Gras, but all I got then were some chinzy beads. In motherhood I at least get awe, respect, and nourishment for my little ones. Those are pretty good souvenirs.
2. Smells. Let’s talk about smells. You know how New Orleans, ground zero for Mardi Gras, is fantastical, colorful, and truly amazing (just like motherhood)? Well, if you haven’t noticed, New Orleans also smells funny– like sour beer and day-old hot dogs and beignets and coffee and dirty fraternity guys mixed with whiffs of majestic southern magnolia trees. That’s how motherhood smells! Except instead of beer, it’s the sour milk that was all over my nursing bras and maternity clothes (because you still wear those after you have a baby, but no one tells you that) my sheets, my car, and my towels. It’s possible I was an over-producer.
3. Inhibitions. During Mardi Gras, inhibitions are lowered (probably from all the beer and breasts) and people say and do things they never have before. It’s like a haze of “don’t ask, don’t tell” falls over the Mississippi Delta and everyone becomes someone else….at least for those days they linger in the Mardi Gras bubble. Honey, that’s motherhood. I found myself saying things I had never said before, like “Can someone please bring me a napkin because my nipple is cracked and bleeding?” Or, to dear husband, “If you wake me up one more time to feed that baby, I am going to move to New Zealand as soon as I get some sleep.” I said lots of stupid sh*t at Mardi Gras, like “sure, I’d love you to walk me back to my hotel,” or “do you like my fake ID? (to a bouncer).” In motherhood, I also did things I had never done before, like riding the escalator (up and down) in Macy’s with my newborn daughter sobbing about how beautiful she was and how damn tired I was. That’s not so really different from the time I was in New Orleans walking down the street sobbing because I met a street poet who spoke the most beautiful words of poetry to me at 4:00 a.m.
4. Hmmmm. I know there were four things. I forgot the fourth one. See? See how much motherhood is like Mardi Gras? Don’t tell me you never forgot where your hotel was during Mardi Gras– I don’t believe you. Once I forgot which hotel was mine, right after I lost my wallet and my shoes. Do I remember what happened? No. I was 20 years old and very absorbed in finding my way back to Pat O’Brien’s to see if that cute guy who was standing next to the bathroom was still there drinking that hurricane and talking to that skanky girl from Lake Ponchartrain. That’s exactly the feeling I have in motherhood on a daily basis. Where’s my wallet? I have no idea. Are both the kids in the car? Not sure. Are they strapped in properly? Couldn’t tell you. Have I had lunch? Define “lunch.” Have I showered since the mid-term elections? Doubtful. Have I talked to an adult in a while? Does a 2-year-old child count as an adult for the purposes of this question?
So, yes, Motherhood. It reminds me a lot of Mardi Gras, except there are babies instead of beads. It’s the time of your life, but you may not remember it all. Hopefully, you will remember the good parts and take lots of pictures. And unlike Mardi Gras’ dumber and uglier cousin, Las Vegas, what happens at Mardi Gras and in Motherhood does not have to stay there– you get to blog and blab all about it. I can’t wait to hear.