This, by the way, is probably going to be the title to my first book. And when I tour with it, all the women in the room are going to be like, “YEP” and all the men in the room…who dropped the women off, I guess?….are going to be whimpering in the back, holding their poor sacks in their tired hands.
I meant they brought a bag lunch and their hands are tired because they folded laundry all morning. What were you thinking? It’s going to be a long reading and Q & A, they’ll need snacks!
I’m forever trying to figure out why I’m not much interested in sex since having kids. I feel bad and sad and weird and guilty about it, so I ponder it a lot. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Some of it is the relationship ups and downs, the lack of romance and connection and just general functionality of life leaves no room for something as frivolous and time-consuming as sex.
Some of it might be the normal process of aging, hormonal changes, or effects of birth control.
And some of it is that I feel like I’ve given up enough of my body and I don’t want to give it up anymore. Just leave me alone.
Let me clarify.
We watched some friends’ baby this weekend and he’s teeny tiny and still needs to be fed milk every few hours, so we happily woke up with him a few times overnight to feed him bottles and whisper back and forth over his little head about how amazingly cute he is and how isn’t this kind of fun to have a baby in the house again but haha not THAT fun.
And then I really thought about how viciously much I do not miss it. How resentful I am over the sacrifice my body made to take care of my babies. How, between pregnancy and breastfeeding, I don’t feel like anything else should be asked of my boobs or vagina. Leave them alone.
Watching Robb give a baby a bottle didn’t elicit fond nostalgia, because he almost never did that when our kids were babies. I was one of those competitive marathon moms who thought I needed to breastfeed my kids for a full year without any help, while working full time. So, I was breastfeeding or pumping approximately every 4 hours for 14 months, twice over. That’s approximately 5,000 times. At, let’s say, 20 mins per feeding or pumping session, that’s approximately 1700 hours, or 70 days of having a baby or a machine attached to my breast. (If I failed to do the math right, we’ll assume that brain decay is also a consequence of the sacrifice). That was after I bled out 2 miscarriages and carried 2 babies to term and delivered them painfully out my lady hole, and in addition to all the other parenting stuff that happens to your body- getting stepped on, carrying screaming 40 lb people through grocery stores, etc.
My body is tired and sore and kind of cranky. No, it does not want genital stimulation and no it REALLY does not want to stimulate anyone else’s, even for the sake of harmony or world peace or whatever.
The other thing, that I say in a more timid, embarrassed, holy whisper, is that my body was sexually available for others’ needs before I was enlightened enough to use it for my own purposes. When I was in my early teens (thank God not earlier), my sexual awakening was basically when boys took interest in me and had expectations of sexual acts we would perform on each other. My body, which I had always had a negative opinion of, suddenly was desirable for males. They liked what it could do for them. My body didn’t get much out of these encounters for many years, but my heart felt temporarily less alone and more worthy. The conclusion that my body wasn’t entirely mine, but was somehow owed to the men who were interested in it, in trade for the bump in self esteem their interest gave me, was easily reinforced by movies and TV and what I knew about porn.
It took me years of fighting through embarrassment and fear, and a very patient, loving partner, to figure out what my body wanted and how to get it that. To speak for it and let it have its own goals that were independent of anyone else’s needs.
So then there were a few blissful years of a healthy, dedicated, exciting relationship with a healthy, dedicated, exciting sex life.
And then we had kids. And my body was again on loan to other people. And I LOVED them and was glad to make that sacrifice…but it was hard. It was really, really hard. And I LOVE my husband, but neither of us want sex to feel like a sacrifice to me and it does. It just does. So I don’t do it.
Having and raising kids, and growing up, and finding a stronger version of me through therapy and friendship and all these things over the past few years has given me an actual, real self esteem. I am my own authority and I just don’t want to compromise that. Especially for something that I have compromised before.
I know better now. I feel bad for that teenage girl who thought she had to put out sexually to feel love. She was really funny and weird and wise and kind of good at theater and sports and friendship and being a sister and a daughter and she didn’t need boys slobbering on her to be worthy. She didn’t know.
I hope figuring this stuff out for myself now will help me help my kids through adolescence better. I’m practicing saying it all honestly here so I can say it honestly there, then. Also, I’m sharing it because I wonder if anyone in couples out there is feeling “YEP” or whimpering about the same? You’re not alone, if you are.
I’m hoping to find my way back to the healthy part where I feel ownership over my body again and excitement for sexy time with my mate. As the kids grow less dependent on me, that helps. As I practice using my big girl words to express anxieties over these things, that creates intimacy, and that helps. Shared time and experiences together just the two of us feels like romance, those dates help.
Anyway, I’m not quite ready to close up shop permanently just yet. The sign out front used to say “Going Out of Business Sale, Everything Gone. Just Go Away.”
Now it says “Closed For Business, But The Power Is Still On. You Can Hold My Hand And See What Happens.”