Kim Raver: What every new mom must know

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Lipstick Jungle‘s Kim Raver is a multi-tasking maven. Mom to sons Luke West, 5, and Leo Kipling, 4 months, the 38-year-old former 24 actress precariously balances motherhood — including every-few-hours nursing sessions, handmade Halloween costumes and birthday cakes — with TV series work and 16-hour days that sometimes keep her on-set until 3 or 4 am. Kim chats with Redbook about her experience, and shares her opinion of seven things new moms must know.

1) Know that it gets easier

The whole week after you give birth is so intense. You’re recuperating and nursing, and you’re exhausted. But it’s kind of like, ‘Oh my God’ — for me at least — and not to sound all weird or profound, but it’s kind of, ‘That’s why I’m on this planet!’ But I also remember being so tired with my first one and thinking, ‘Is the rest of my life going to be like this?’

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?’

Click below for the other six ‘must knows,’ and photos!

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2) Recruit family and friends

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

So my mom walked in with this cooler bag. She walked me into thekitchen and put the cooler on top of the counter and she startedpulling out all this Tupperware. She gave me this piece of paper andwas like, ‘Okay, here’s the menu.’ She had made five meals, each ofwhich had about three courses. And I started crying, because all themeals were comfort food that she used to make for me as a kid. Exceptshe had adapted them because she knew I would be squeezing into my workwardrobe in four weeks. So if it had originally been a heavy-creamsauce, she’d made a horseradish-yogurt sauce instead. And she’d made anapple-potato puree because she knew the apples would help my digestion;after a C-section, you need fiber [because of constipation]. Basicallymy 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 incrediblegesture of motherhood. My mom — who raised me and my older sister onher own — realized how hard it is with a new baby. She had taken thetime to make these meals in order to take care of me, so that I couldtake care of my sons. I’m crying right now just talking about it.

So myadvice is, for your baby shower, instead of asking for a closet full ofstuff you don’t end up using, ask a family member or a friend who lovesto cook — or ask five friends — to make a meal for you when you firstcome home. It’s so amazingly comforting to have that.

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 andtrying to nurse Leo, Luke will be in the corner playing with hisdinosaurs. That’s what’s important to him, and it really brings meinto what’s important.

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

Another example is that because of my career, I can’t always nurseLeo at home. So wherever I am with him — in my trailer or dressingroom — I stop everyone and everything and make sure it is our time.People always want something from me; I’m sure many parents feel thatway. But sometimes you have to close the door and tell yourself, ‘It’sokay to take this time with my kids.’

4) Follow your own dreams

Whenever I worry about the hours I work — sometimes they’re 16-hourdays — I think about my mom. Even though she worked insane hours as aproducer for commercials, she was always there for me. I don’t knowwhether 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’ta moment, never a moment, growing up when I didn’t feel loved by her. Imean, my Halloween costumes were handmade!

I think that’s what’s givenme the inspiration to have my career; I never felt my mom loved me anyless because she was working. So I hope to pass that on — that it’s agood thing to have dreams and pursue them, and you can still be therefor your kids. Like last year, I was on set filming in a diner at 3 inthe morning, and in between takes and memorizing lines, instead of justhanging 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 keepeverything in perspective. I’ll have such high expectations of myself,like I’ll be up all night icing a homemade birthday cake in the shapeof a ‘Cars’ character for Luke and worrying about the goody bags forthe party.

Manu will say, ‘Forget the goody bags! You don’t need thegoody 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 ofus moms who looked like we had just fallen out of the washing machine:Our hair was sticking up, our clothes were totally mismatched andrumpled. And I see this other group of women who are completely coiffedand pressed and perfect, and I was like, ‘What’s the deal?’

And themothers who were disheveled, our boys were on tricycles and scooters,and there was this huge pile tumbling in the dirt, and we were trying toseparate them. And the completely pulled-together group, all of theirkids — all girls! — were sitting at a table, having a little teaparty, and I was like, ‘There lies the difference.’

I know it’s a totalstereotype and I am totally a feminist, but I gotta tell you: I will goout to dinner with Brooke [Shields] and her girls. And, granted, my sonis really chill. He’s really chill, but still he’ll be climbing up overmy head while Brooke’s daughter Rowan is just sitting there. But I loveit. 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 corduroyjacket with his cool little hat, and he started skipping. And so Istarted skipping down the street with him singing, ‘Skip, skip, skip tomy Lou’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ and I had this flash of thestreets of New York and the taxis and the smell of winter and snow, andit reminded me of my childhood, which was great.

I really can’t imagine my life without the experience of being amom. When my son hugs me and tells me, ‘I love you so much,’ it makeseverything … ’cause there are moments when you’re like, ‘How am I goingto do all this?’ I’m up making Luke’s lunch, packing him up for theday. I’m trying to read and memorize my lines. I worked till 4 in themorning, but I got up at 5:30 because I’m nursing, and I gotta get mykid 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.

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