This is probably going to be the title to my first book, since long-term relationship sex is such a fascinating subject to me. I pose this question to my couple friends all the time, which makes me everyone’s favorite dinner guest.
“Looks like she brought pasta salad and misery again. Marvelous.”
From my research, I have concluded that when I do my press tour for my imaginary book, and discuss the decline of sexual appetite in women after having children, the women in the room are going to be like, “YEP,” and the men in the room are going to be leaning against each other and sobbing loudly.
So many women, like me, feel worried, resentful, broken and guilty about their decline in interest in sex. It can really cause conflict in marriage. Here are some discoveries I’ve made that have helped me understand why I holler “leave me alone!” when my husband asks me if I want to watch Netflix.
My libido wonders if you did the dishes yet, hmmm?
Our lives, with kids and jobs, are busy and demanding. For the most part, we’re adequately functional, but there’s not much room for something as frivolous and time-consuming as sex. We lack the time together we used to have, and that wreaks havoc on our connection and intimacy. There is always more work to do, and it never feels like the other person is doing enough.
I’ve given enough of my body to other people. Go away.
My body is tired and sore and kind of cranky. I’m kind of resentful about the sacrifice my body made to take care of my babies. To be clear, I don’t resent my children. I just resent biology, the universe, and my husband.
It’s all fair and reasonable, don’t worry about it.
Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, I don’t feel like anything else should be asked of my boobs or vagina ever again. I’m not sure exactly how one wrings ones hands, but I want to do it while bellowing, “Do you even know what I’ve done for this family!?”
We recently watched some friends’ baby overnight. We woke up through the night to feed him bottles and whisper back and forth over his little head about how cute he is, and doesn’t this kind of make you want to have a baby living in the house again?
HAHAHAHAHA…No, it does not.
The more I thought about it, the more I stewed. I aggressively do not miss doing the mom thing for a baby. It was overwhelming and exhausting. Watching my husband give a baby a bottle didn’t elicit nostalgia. He almost never did that when our kids were babies, mostly because I was one of those competitive marathon moms who thought I needed to breastfeed my kids without any help.
I was feeling bitter, so I did some math.
I breastfed or pumped 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 TWO MONTHS of having a baby or a machine attached to my breast. These demands on my body were all 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 smacked and stepped on, carrying screaming 40 lb people through grocery stores, etc.
If I sound ungrateful, I apologize.
I know there are people who would kill to have the opportunity I had to carry and deliver healthy babies and to breastfeed so successfully for so long. I am aware of my blessings, but, I am also tired.
No, my body 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. I’ve given enough of my body to other people. Go away.
Also, I don’t owe anyone sex.
The other thing, that I say in a more timid, embarrassed whisper, is that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I compromised my body for others. In adolescence, I traded the sexual attention of men for a boost in my self esteem. I didn’t get much out of those encounters for many years, but I felt temporarily less alone and more worthy. I feel bad for that teenage girl who thought she had to perform sexually to feel love. She was really funny and weird and smart and she didn’t need boys slobbering on her. She didn’t know.
It took me years of personal work, and a very patient, loving partner, to figure out how to claim my body for me. There were a few blissful years of a healthy sex before kids. I know it can be done, and I look forward to it happening again, but for now I’m not forcing it when I don’t feel it. I’m a stronger version of me now, in part because of the experience of being a mother, and I have actual, real self esteem independent of others. So, until I feel like I’m again in authority of my body and using it for my purposes, I’m not compromising it again.
What next? Is the sexy shop closed forever?
I hope these revelations will help me get my kids through their adolescent pitfalls better. I’m practicing saying all this scary stuff about self-worth and sexuality now, so I can bolster them in the future. Also, I’m sharing all this stuff that makes my palms sweat because I know there are other couples in the same place. You’re not alone, folks. YEP.
Also, I’m optimistic that I’ll find my way back to healthy desire and an active sex life with my mate. As the kids grow less dependent on me and I practice sharing my feelings on this subject, I feel more free, empowered and heard.
I’m not ready to close up shop permanently. The sign out front used to say, “Going out of business sale, everything is gone. Just go away.”
Now it says, “The lights are on and the door’s ajar, come in for a cup of coffee and we’ll see what happens.”