Chuo Ma Chuo Niu

There’s a Chinese phrase (idiom?) – “Chuo Niu Chuo Ma”, which literally means “Make (like a) cow, Make (like a) horse” or “Acting like a cow and acting like a horse.” (or being a cow/horse).

It is used to describe a person who is working like a cow or a horse – that is, working (or being worked) very hard.

Breastfeeding is hard work. I know. I’ve been watching PL feed Z. There are days Z feeds almost non-stop. But there are times when she lets up.

But the days and times when she keeps demanding to be fed seems to outnumber the days when she sleeps more.

And on those demanding days, PL has to chuo niu chuo ma to Z.

PL says in reply, that first she chuo ma (made a horse) – “Chuo” translates to “do” or “make”, and Z is born in the year of the horse, so PL had made a Horse. And then she have to “chuo niu” – act as a cow, producing milk for Z.

When I try to teach Z to speak Mandarin, the first phrase I’ve been trying to teach her is “Mu Ching” or mother.

I speak slowly of course, so I would point at PL and say, slowly “Moooooooo Ching!”

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