Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lipstick Jungle's Kim Raver on Motherhood

Kim Raver: What every new mom must know

credit: redbook, celebritybabyblog

With Leo, it's gotten incrementally easier. I've started being okay with the sleepless nights, because I know I won't be nursing every two hours for the rest of my life.

And my husband and I are so much more relaxed as parents. Whereas whenever Luke cried, I was in complete angst and stomach turning, 'Oh my God, what's not right? What's happening?' 

I remember Luke getting a cold when he was a few weeks old, and I was a basket case. And then recently Leo got a cold -- and he got a cold. With Luke, I was so worried about every little thing. With Leo, who I hear crying in the other room right now, I'm like, "Okay, let's solve the problem...What is it?'

2) Recruit family and friends

The day after I came home from the hospital with Leo, my mom came over. I had had a C-section and I was so sleep-deprived -- I'd been getting up to play with Luke so he wouldn't feel left out -- and completely disheveled. I just felt like a mess.

So my mom walked in with this cooler bag. She walked me into the kitchen and put the cooler on top of the counter and she started pulling out all this Tupperware. She gave me this piece of paper and was like, 'Okay, here's the menu.' She had made five meals, each of which had about three courses. And I started crying, because all the meals were comfort food that she used to make for me as a kid. Except she had adapted them because she knew I would be squeezing into my work wardrobe in four weeks. So if it had originally been a heavy-cream sauce, she'd made a horseradish-yogurt sauce instead. And she'd made an apple-potato puree because she knew the apples would help my digestion; after a C-section, you need fiber [because of constipation]. Basically my mom had factored all my needs into each of these low-fat, high-protein meals.

I was so moved because it wasn't just food, it was an incredible gesture of motherhood. My mom -- who raised me and my older sister on her own -- realized how hard it is with a new baby. She had taken the time to make these meals in order to take care of me, so that I could take care of my sons. I'm crying right now just talking about it.

So my advice is, for your baby shower, instead of asking for a closet full of stuff you don't end up using, ask a family member or a friend who loves to cook -- or ask five friends -- to make a meal for you when you first come home. It's so amazingly comforting to have that.

credit: redbook, celebritybabyblog

3) Play dinosaurs whenever possible

Kids are so in the moment, and I learn from mine every day. Sometimes when I'm running around trying to get ready for work and trying to nurse Leo, Luke will be in the corner playing with his dinosaurs. That's what's important to him, and it really brings me into what's important.

Yes, you have to be the adult and get things done, but you can also take a few minutes and play dinosaurs, because life's too short. My kids give me these amazing reminders to love life and not get caught up in all the ridiculous minutiae that we so get caught up in.

Another example is that because of my career, I can't always nurse Leo at home. So wherever I am with him -- in my trailer or dressing room -- I stop everyone and everything and make sure it is our time. People always want something from me; I'm sure many parents feel that way. But sometimes you have to close the door and tell yourself, 'It's okay to take this time with my kids.'

4) Follow your own dreams

Whenever I worry about the hours I work -- sometimes they're 16-hour days -- I think about my mom. Even though she worked insane hours as a producer for commercials, she was always there for me. I don't know whether it was because she was a single mom -- so it was me, my sister, and my mom, the three of us, through thick and thin -- but there wasn't a moment, never a moment, growing up when I didn't feel loved by her. I mean, my Halloween costumes were handmade!

I think that's what's given me the inspiration to have my career; I never felt my mom loved me any less because she was working. So I hope to pass that on -- that it's a good thing to have dreams and pursue them, and you can still be there for your kids. Like last year, I was on set filming in a diner at 3 in the morning, and in between takes and memorizing lines, instead of just hanging out, I'd hang out and sew my son's lion costume.

5) Forget the goody bags

My husband, Manu [Boyer], is an amazing sounding board, and he helps me keep everything in perspective. I'll have such high expectations of myself, like I'll be up all night icing a homemade birthday cake in the shape of a 'Cars' character for Luke and worrying about the goody bags for the party.

Manu will say, 'Forget the goody bags! You don't need the goody bags!' Whereas I want to do them because everyone else does them. He'll tell me, 'You don't need that because you're doing this already. Just the fact that we're having the party and being there for the kids is enough.'

6) Let boys be boys

I was at my son's school for Mother's Day, and there were three of us moms who looked like we had just fallen out of the washing machine: Our hair was sticking up, our clothes were totally mismatched and rumpled. And I see this other group of women who are completely coiffed and pressed and perfect, and I was like, 'What's the deal?'

And the mothers who were disheveled, our boys were on tricycles and scooters, and there was this huge pile tumbling in the dirt, and we were trying to separate them. And the completely pulled-together group, all of their kids -- all girls! -- were sitting at a table, having a little tea party, and I was like, 'There lies the difference.

I know it's a total stereotype and I am totally a feminist, but I gotta tell you: I will go out to dinner with Brooke [Shields] and her girls. And, granted, my son is really chill. He's really chill, but still he'll be climbing up over my head while Brooke's daughter Rowan is just sitting there. But I love it. I love having boys.

7) Notice everything

This morning, Luke and I were running out the door to his school, and he was in his corduroy jeans and his little boots and his corduroy jacket with his cool little hat, and he started skipping. And so I started skipping down the street with him singing, 'Skip, skip, skip to my Lou' and I was like, 'Oh my God,' and I had this flash of the streets of New York and the taxis and the smell of winter and snow, and it reminded me of my childhood, which was great.

I really can't imagine my life without the experience of being a mom. When my son hugs me and tells me, 'I love you so much,' it makes everything ... 'cause there are moments when you're like, 'How am I going to do all this?' I'm up making Luke's lunch, packing him up for the day. I'm trying to read and memorize my lines. I worked till 4 in the morning, but I got up at 5:30 because I'm nursing, and I gotta get my kid ready.

But when I'm with my family, it's amazing to think, 'Wow, my husband and I made these kids.' It's this very simple, natural thing, but it's just great. I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Source: Redbook, March issue

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