MOTHERHOOD & SEXUALITY
Being a mother & wife in a pandemic
My first publication is born out of a story I wrote for the wonderful Clemmie Telford (IG: clemmie_telford) who owns the webpage Mother of all Lists. It really worked for me for this topic. So let’s get to it:
- First of all, let me clarify, I am aiming this list most specifically at parents of young children.
- Second of all, I myself am a mum of two small children, wife of 13 years and woman with dwindling patience, zero alone time, intense love for my family and extinct career.
- A list seems like the perfect format for what I am about to write as currently, in lockdown, it’s the one thing I can somehow stick to when all chaos has broken out.
- Lists give me something to hold on to, something that I can check off with a mighty flourish and feel I have accomplished something as a stay at home mum whose chores feel more monotonous than ever.
- This list is one I write for the parents though and interestingly, I never have a point on my list for me or my relationship. So:
- LOCKDOWN LOVE is hard.
- LOCKDOWN LOVE is testing.
- LOCKDOWN LOVE brings out the worst in me.
- LOCKDOWN LOVE means sex has been off the cards for, brace yourselves, months. Why? Because:
I am tired. I am emotionally drained. I am not challenged mentally anymore.
- I just want to sit for two hours in the evening in absolute sensory peace (no grabbing me, no hugging etc) until I collapse into bed and rinse and repeat.
- If this resounds in you, then make yourself a coffee (which you will drink when it’s cold because a bum needs to be wiped, a mouth fed or a child pulled off another) and read on.
- In my humble, lustless, exhausted opinion, all those sayings stating “sex is a muscle that needs to be worked out” can bloody well do one.
- Sex is great, don’t get me wrong. At my core, I am a kinky little minx that excelled in regularly surprising my husband with outfits, dates, toys and more. But as you noticed, it’s past tense.
- Currently, sex is very far down on my priority list. And while I strongly know this is ok FOR ME at the moment (my husband strongly disagrees), I also know I need to make some tiny changes.
- Don’t worry, I’m not going to peeve you off with a Stepford wives list of all the sexy things you should start doing now to please your husband.
- FEMINISTS, put down your bras.
- Sex is marvelous to reconnect with your partner. Yes, we all know that. Yes, it’s really hard to put into practice. Yes, I know the wine and biscuits option in the evening trumps the getting naked and busy option.
But hear me out.
- I think (and I’m going to say it really quietly);
- I think I need to start doing something.
- BEFORE KIDS (cue bright light, angels singing, the distant memory of sleeping in on a Sunday and doing all sorts of sexy things under the bedcovers):
- BEFORE the sweet sound of tiny feet at 6am in the bleak, dark, freezing, pandemic riddled hayday of our current lives; sex was what made my husband and me be “more us”.
- Sex was the one thing that belonged to us.
- AFTER KIDS we share everything.
AFTER KIDS IN LOCKDOWN we share EVERYTHING, are together ALL THE TIME and have nothing left for US.
- JUST US.
- US WITHOUT KIDS.
- And while I love my kids dearly, I think I need some US again.
- Conversations that aren’t about the pandemic, the nappies, the arguments, the constant whir of noise that says we can’t do this, we can’t do that.
- My list needs a bullet point with
- 30 minutes chat with husband
- 20 minutes kissing and snuggling with husband
- 1 hour eating takeaway and watching something with husband
- It seems like we do these things anyway but as for me, I don’t do it consciously anymore. I am somewhere else in my head, distracted by all those pandemic thoughts, stress related questions, anxiety-riddled headache.
SO NOW: I’M TAKING BACK OUR LOVE.
- I am reclaiming US and reviving it in small, baby steps.
- So here’s the plan (watch out, it’s a list!):
- When do we have time?
- When the kids are in bed (no nursery or school at the moment).
- What do we both miss?
- Decent conversations about random, non-pandemic-or-kid-related-news.
- What does my husband miss?
- Bodily proximity.
- What do I miss?
- Talking about my passion project with him.
- So what’s next?
- It would seem we have some to-dos.
- Normally, I would oppose strongly to any sort of to-do concerning my relationship but yes (she admits huffingly in third person and rolling her eyes) the time has come to roll up my sleeves and do something because (and you might not want to hear it);
- YES — our love is strong and I know it’s a phase, a so-called “bad patch” we are going through.
- NO — it won’t end in divorce but do we really have to think down that road?
- YES — we could be having a nicer time together.
- NO — it doesn’t always have to be sex.
- YES — it could be sex, though.
- NO — it probably wouldn’t be dreadful.
- YES — sex is probably the answer to a lot of questions.
- NO — I’m not suggesting you should be whipping out the lingerie and ravishingly be dishing out blowjobs.
- BUT AGAIN HEAR ME OUT (and I know, I’m rambling but trust me, you’ll agree):
- Let’s dissect the word “love” for a minute:
- I LOVE MY HUSBAND. So, so much. I love him with all my heart and it’s not going to change anytime soon.
- Ofcourse we bicker, have our disagreements and it has been heightened due to the pandemic by a million.
BUT I LOVE MY HUSBAND.
- And before the kids and the pandemic we didn’t need to carve out time for each other. It happened naturally and it bonded us.
- All the time we spent together we would fill our cups with meaningful conversations, trivial conversations, intense gazing looks of love, laughter, physical intimacy and so much more.
- Now we are ravaged by the pressure and intensity of two small kids in a pandemic with no social contacts, no family nearby and the weight of maintaining a relationship on top of it all.
- So let me circle back to the word LOVE.
- LOVE is the origin.
- LOVE is where we started.
- LOVE is what moved us to create a family.
- LOVE is keeping us alive.
- But OUR LOVE has taken a beating.
- Our love no longer has its cup filled.
- We are running on empty.
- And whilst I believe our love will make it through, I’m starting to think I can make the ride until we finish that “bad patch” a little more fun.
- I’ve stopped trying.
- My exhaustion has made me lazy. But:
If I whet my appetite, my appetite will be whet.
- And if my appetite is finally whet again, who knows where the wetness might lead (NSFW but I thought you might have gathered that by now).
- So here’s my game plan. My
LOCKDOWN LOVE LIST
- First, a date night complete with an SMS exchange leading up to it, (maybe a sexy photo to get us both in the mood). Although let’s face it, I may be wearing sexy lingerie but I’m covering it up with joggers and a jumper (cause it’s cold and the lockdown weight suits me and my joggers just fine, thank you).
- Second, devices off, kids in bed, something tasty to nibble on.
- Third, topics that we have thought of beforehand that do not induce instant stress or anxiety.
- And next?
- Breathe. Don’t let the day consume me.
- Eyes. Look into them long and deep and reconnect.
- Sit close to each other but respect each other’s boundaries.
- If it comes to sex, what then? It could go two ways:
- Everything is how it always is and you ease into it slowly (or fast, I’m not sure!). Or:
- It’s like a first date; a little awkward at first but like riding a bike, you get into it.
- Super important: Talk to each other.
- And this is the bit I’ve been leading up to.
- We’ve forgotten to talk to each other. Not about work or anything else. But about what we want, like, need…
- So, lockdown love. This is the plan / the list:
More one on one time with my husband.
- A tentative approach to more sex (not the brain blowing kind immediately but baby steps).
- More self-worth to get me in a relationship mood (the me in US before kids). So: some make-up, the “good underwear” and ofcourse special food that makes our dates something other than beige food on fancier plates.
- Small gestures of US: hugs when he doesn’t expect them, a kiss here or there.
- A few intimate moments to myself (plonk the kids infront of the TV and whip out that rabbit or womaniser; whack one out for all us mums, your hormones will thank you for it).
- Because the ball needs to start rolling.
- I am thawing out the minx that has taken a back seat for the past five years of pregnancy and being solely a mother.
I am breathing life into the wife.
- I am reclaiming ME in order to build and strengthen a better US.
- My final bullet points on this list might be controversial but here we go:
- Sex is important in different measures for those in a relationship. It’s about finding mutual grounds.
- NO — you don’t need to bend over backwards to please your partner.
- YES — you do need to define your needs.
- NO — your partner can not “expect” physical intimacy from you.
- YES — you can have phases where you connect less as to salvage any sanity and energy you need.
BUT PLEASE REMEMBER: you need to communicate with each other.
- And what better way to do it than through small gestures that snowball into big feelings (of the adult type), in turn leading to LOVE refreshed.
- So order that take-away, put on that old lippy at the back of the cupboard, throw yourself into something that reminds you of the you before kids.
RECLAIM YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
- Lockdown love is hard.
- But we need to shove it in a cupboard, dust off our hands and get back to business.
- Because if my husband still loves me from the white hairs on top to the COVID bush down below, then I can love me too.
- Lastly, in a typical mum-like fashion, I have now talked myself blue in the face in the hope some of it has stuck.
- Just know- you are not alone in your loss of libido.
- Your relationship will not fail because you are not having sex.
- Talk openly to your partner about how you are feeling.
- Make yourself a list with how to win back your US.
Being a wife, mother, lover, friend and so on and so on is HARD.
- But you’ve got this: the next list you write is about you and what makes you happy.
- Remember: a little bit goes a long way. So: