There’s a secret about motherhood that they don’t mention in parenting books: sometimes it is very gross. And in her new Netflix special Hard Knock Wife, US comedian Ali Wong, 36, does not shy away from all the gory details about bodily functions—both hers and her baby's.
Wong rose to fame after her 2016 comedy special Baby Cobra, which she filmed when she was seven months pregnant. In this latest special, she is pregnant again, and a mother to a two-year-old girl, and delivers truth bomb after truth bomb. Her real and raw delivery seems horrifying to some audience members, but she tackles details of motherhood that women often feel like they can't acknowledge. In a world where women are scared to share 'too much information', Wong's pearls of wisdom are as refreshing as a cooling breastfeeding pad. Here are five tips that I'll be sticking on my fridge.
Being a stay-at-home mum is not about watching Ellen in your PJs
At the opening of her set, Wong addresses how she's taken a break from her career, and people's amazement at her return to work. In response to the 'how do you do it?' question, she brilliantly describes that intense love mixed with cabin fever that comes with spending every single hour with a tiny person who does not understand reason. "I love her so much, but I'm on the verge of putting her in the garbage."
Plus, being a stay-at-home mum is not as carefree as you might think. As Wong puts it: "I did not understand that the whole price you had to pay for staying at home is that you gotta be a mom ... You get no 401-K, no coworkers—you’re just in solitary confinement all day long with this human Tamagotchi that don’t got no reset button, so the stakes are extremely high!"
No, maternity leave is not just taking a break from the rat race
When I went on maternity leave, I honestly felt like I was retiring from work. My plan was to write a book and take up ceramics. My days would be spent going to lunch with friends while my daughter slept in a pram behind me (because new babies sleep all the time, right?)
In reality: maternity leave was a rude shock and I barely had time to shower. "I was stupid and naive and I thought that being a stay-at-home mom was about chillaxing, getting to sh*t in your own home, watch Wendy Williams, and go out to brunch with your sassy girlfriends," Wong says before reminding us, "maternity leave is not just to bond with the baby...it's for new moms to hide and heal their demolished-ass bodies."
Breastfeeding is torture
If you've watched those Youtube videos where a newborn miraculously roots its way down to its mother's breast for its first feed, know this: it's likely CGI. And Wong is furious about being misled. "The nurse promised me I would have a particularly easy time because my nipples look like fingers," she says, before describing breast milk spraying from 15 holes in her breasts "like the Bellagio Fountain."
You become a shell of your former self
Having the life force sucked out of you by a tiny human is just very exhausting. Wong describes only understanding the meaning behind Shel Silverstein's book The Giving Tree after becoming a mother, and explains why mums tend to lean towards more out-there fashion choices. "When you're a mom, you need sparkle to compensate for the light inside of you that has died."
A good part if your day is spent trying to work out if your child has done a poo
The best part about Wong's comedy is the explicit, uncomfortable detail she goes into when describing those innocuous motherhood moments. The lengths she goes to to check her daughter's nappies is both hilarious and too real, and reminded me that a mother's love knows no bounds. “I told my husband ‘til death do us part,’ and not once have I ever sniffed his ass to see if he sh*t his pants.”