5 Ways Orange Is the New Black Prepared Me for Motherhood

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orange-is-the-new-black-cast Image via Netflix

As a mom, when I think of all the rare and precious free time I’ve spent slumped into my couch like a land manatee, spraying Easy Cheese into my mouth for protein, and watching television, I feel a pang of regret. Not the kind of pang that would compel me to take up Jazzercise or crafting or, god forbid, human interaction. And certainly not the kind of pang that would make me stop watching TV. That would be nuts. A small pang. I’m raising a very active little boy while also working and cleaning and occasionally shaving my legs. Sometimes I just need an hour to lose myself in a soft-core prison drama. My drug of choice is, of course, Orange Is the New Black. And, frankly, I’m a better mother for it. There’s a little Crazy Eyes in the life of every mom: it’s called a toddler. And thanks to OITNB, I was prepped and ready for my prison stay, I mean parenthood.

1. Your Body Is Not Your Own. Welcome to prison and/or motherhood. You and all of your bits are now a ward of the state and/or your kid. Your boobs will be fondled. Your creases and folds will be inspected. You will be licked, punched, sucked, patted, and spat on. You will wake when you are commanded to wake. You will sleep when you are allowed to sleep. Just kidding, of course! You’re never allowed to sleep.

2. Say Goodbye to Privacy. The bathroom stalls at Litchfield Correctional don’t have doors. And Piper found out the hard way that there are no private bedrooms, unless you get sent to the SHU. Motherhood is just the same, minus the luxury of an isolation unit: You will learn to pee in front of an audience. The truly gifted will eventually poop while making eye contact. If you want to shower alone, you’re going to need to get up early. Like 3 a.m. early. Otherwise, make peace with scrubbing your undercarriage in full view of the peanut gallery. And it’s best if you just forget about those blissful, quiet mornings spent idling in your comfy bed. From this point on, you’ll struggle to drift off as some little a-hole belts out movie tunes only to wake a few hours later to the sound of muffled crying or to a disgruntled sidekick pissing on your floor.

3. Rethink Your Beauty Routine. Once upon a time, you wouldn’t leave the house without being showered; without deodorant; without a dab of lipstick; without clean underwear. Well, well, Miss Thang, you can kiss that fancy beauty routine goodbye. Makeup may as well be contraband. You won’t have time to apply it, and even if you did, your kid will try to eat it. But, hey, a red Kool Aid mouth looks good on you, girl! And those dark circles under your eyes really bring out your grey roots. Speaking of roots, on the off chance that you get to wash your hair, don’t count on being able to mouse, blow dry, or curl. Now is a good time to bring back the wet look. You’ll be just like those girls in the Robert Palmer videos, only ugly. Better yet, lop off your locks and forego both styling products and lice. And when it comes to your clothes, save the clean khakis for visitors. Your bunkmate walks around stark naked; why should you have to wear something nice? Besides, you’re just gonna get covered in blood and pee anyway.

4. Welcome to Seg. In prison talk, “seg” is short for “segregation” — an isolated hell hole where a bad character can while away her time by making booger art or debating with the voices. Becoming a first-time parent is your ticket to seg. Your child-free friends will suddenly be distant, unsure of how to relate to this new, floppy, mewling mess of a human. They’ll have an even harder time relating to your baby. But it’s not like you’ll be able to “grab a quick cup of coffee” or “do brunch” or “enjoy adult conversation ever again” when you’re doing hard time in Lego Town. The colicky days blend into the sleepless nights. Before you know it, you’re chatting with the Diaper Genie. But trust me, you won’t get anywhere with him — unless you’re wishing for shitty diapers.

5. Make Peace with Spoilers. I don’t have the time or the proper amount of self-loathing to slip into an adult diaper, surround myself with party-sized bags of corn chips, and binge watch 13 hours of OITNB in one day. I wish I did, but I don’t. I had to dole out one episode per night, which meant a literal eternity (2 weeks) of avoiding talk about Pipes, Red, and the gang. Chances are, your kid doesn’t watch OITNB because it isn’t Frozen, or Frozen, or how about Frozen. But that won’t stop your offspring from jumping on the spoiler bandwagon. So go ahead and plan an action-packed family vacation. Just know that junior is going to come down with hand, foot, and mouth disease the minute you step onto the plane. Or were you hoping to finally paint the dining room? What a coincidence! So is your daughter; she’ll be using her own poop. And let’s not forget that your need to get some important work done is directly proportional to your son’s need to get some screaming done. No good will come of fighting the rules, ladies. Eighteen years is a lot of years. You might as well settle in. And look, I realize that motherhood isn’t actually a prison; in prison, no one makes you install a car seat.

Related post: 10 Ways We’re Tortured by our Babies – Scary Mommy

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  1. 6

    says

    I hadn’t figured out what ‘Seg’ stood for yet. Thank you. And also for, “And let’s not forget that your need to get some important work done is directly proportional to your son’s need to get some screaming done.”

    Congratulations on you Scary Mommy debut, you rocked it!

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  2. 19

    says

    I love this post! I’ve never seen OITNB because they don’t play it on Disney or Nick Jr and my kids are secretly vampires who stay awake all night sucking the life out of me, but I can definitely appreciate the comparison.

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