Exquisite Hell

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Originally posted on Shit On My Hands, June 2012

In my second year at uni I took a course called ‘Art, Pornography, Blasphemy, Propaganda’ which may as well have been called ‘Books and Films That Will Make Your Vagina Clench in Abject Horror’. I wrote my final essay on Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘American Psycho’. I happily received a high mark and didn’t question the work’s right to exist, but once the semester was over I threw the book in the bin as fast as my puny Arts undergraduate arm would allow.

Another of the assigned novels that elicited a similar visceral response was Pauline Réage’s ‘The Story of O’. Recently (and perhaps completely incongruously) I have been thinking about this one a lot. My youngest daughter has just embarked on her tenth month out of my womb. Just like her sister at the same age, she is demanding so much of my body. What’s this got to do with a semi-pornographic French literary work? Well, while motherhood doesn’t exactly entail being trussed by the wrists from the ceiling and having a metal anal expander inserted to help loosen that orifice up for use of a sadistic lover, there is surely some masochism involved. Aside from my chronic blocked nipple pore issue (which charmingly requires the application of a sterilized embroidery needle), said nipples are being constantly bitten, my back is fucked from trying to keep the wriggling urchin in place while changing her, my knees pop and crackle like dry kindling from lifting her off the floor when she encroaches on the toddler’s personal space (MUUUMMMMYYYYY!!! PICK UP YOUR BABY!), and I’m ravenously hungry just about all the time – which is difficult to fix when you’re fully occupied in all the above fun pursuits.

Yes, I am having a whinge. But I am also keen to tell chicks who aren’t parents yet (but would like to be in the near future) the blindingly obvious news that the hard physical work doesn’t begin and end with the birth (as much as shows like ‘One Born Every Minute USA’ would have you think). So while you’re in a pre-knocked up state, try to exercise, strengthen, and stretch your body. Get into a habit of eating sustaining, highly nutritious food. And practice things like gradual muscle relaxation. Otherwise, two years later you’ll be wondering why your shoulders are permanently parked up under your ears, your diet of croissants and coco pop fails to keep you alert and upright, and you go into instant traction when loading the baby into her car seat. Remember also, that you’re going to need all your strength and stamina for hanging up your partner* from the roof beam like a side of ham as punishment for his part in creating this exquisite hell of motherhood.

* be he male, of course.

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