The Five Stages of Parents’ Sex Life

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There are people out there who claim their sex lives never changed after they had kids, and still others who say they started having sex more once their little ones were born.

I’m calling bullshit.

Now don’t get me wrong; I like a good roll between the sheets. But I’m hard pressed to believe anyone’s sex life remains unchanged or increases after kids enter the picture.

I just don’t see how that’s possible.

Unless you weren’t having much sex to begin with, of course. And if that’s the case, I am so very, very sorry…

Then again, if you weren’t having much sex before you had kids, you probably aren’t bitter like the rest of us at the drastic decline in “relations” that parenthood brings. Maybe that’s the trick – set the bar really low from the get-go so you always come out on top (so to speak).

Anyway, let’s stop ragging on the prudes and get down to the topic at hand, shall we?

Having kids kills your sex life.

Alright, so I’m no expert when it comes to relationships or sex, but it would seem there are 5 distinct phases couples go through in the bedroom.

1. Dating. Oh, how I loved this stage. You remember what it was like – every time you saw each other, it was all you could do to keep your paws off each other. I believe I spent the first 6 months of my relationship with my husband with JBF hair. What’s that, you ask? What’s JBF hair? Think about it: “Just Been…”

2. Living Together. This starts out really exciting – since almost every date you have leading up to the moment you move in together ends with sex, you naturally assume you will now be having sex every day.Bah-hahahaha!

3. The Pulling Of The Goalie. Also known as the “we’re trying” phase, this is a magical, magical time because, almost as soon as you ditch the birth control, you are magically transported back to the Dating Phase. It is glorious. For about a month. But the longer it takes your husband to knock you up, the more sex starts to feel like a (mostly fun) science experiment.

4. We’re Pregnant! When you enter this stage of your relationship, you will be on cloud nine. But then morning sickness will kick in, and let me tell you – nothing gets a guy in the mood more than hearing his partner yak several times a day. The good news is, you start to feel better by your second trimester. The bad news is, a lot of men aren’t overly interested in doing the deed once your belly starts to grow. Something about poking the baby (men like to flatter themselves, don’t they?).

5. We’re Never Having Sex Again Parents. Once you hit this phase, sex as you know it will never be the same again. Ever. You now have to schedule it around naps and bedtime, and when you do muster up the strength to do the deed, you have to pray like hell the baby doesn’t wake up . . . because the sound of crying or happy chattering is an instant mood killer.

Now, I’m sure there are more than just 5 phases in this whole cycle of love, but The Hubs and I aren’t there yet. My guess is that, once The Kid starts school a couple of years from now, this whole process will come full circle and The Hubs will start coming home for nooners again.

If I’m incorrect in this assumption, please do me a favor and keep that piece of information to yourself.

5 Reasons Why Moms Shouldn’t Take Sex Advice From Magazines

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Many women’s magazines have a “Mom” version of the “How To Have Better Sex” article. Usually, the titles alone make me feel like I should keep an extinguisher by the bed, along with a bucket of cold water to douse on myself and my partner when we begin to spontaneously combust from sheer passion: “How to Keep Your Love Life Hot and Your Sex Life in Flames.” “10 Ways to Reignite Your Marriage.” “How To Turn Up the Heat In the Bedroom, Without Singeing the Sheets.” (Oh, I like that last one)

Seriously, can we disband the sex myths propagated by magazines, and have a little straight talk here?

Let me break it to you (in case you haven’t figured it out already), sex after kids is often not so hot — or even often, for that matter. That said, here’s what I think about the most common tips given to moms about sex…

1. Don’t Forget the Foreplay. Multitasking Mom Response: Really? Really? As it is, I have to have sex while catching up on my Tivo’d shows, reading US Weekly, having a healthy protein snack, and repeating the words, “lettuce, milk, eggs” over and over until I can get to a pen. Now I have to add something else to my repertoire?
Look writers, we forgot the foreplay a long time ago. Well, my husband didn’t, he calls it brushing his teeth, which I am beyond thankful for..

2. Set the Mood (You know, candles, aromatic massage oils and sexy lingerie?) Brutal Honesty Response: Are we still taking time to set the mood? I mean, isn’t that what got us here in the first place? Listen, if there’s no lingering gas odor in the room and you’re in an old t-shirt without any holes, I say you’re as sexy as you need to get. Work your dimmer switch and voila… ambiance. Better yet, utilize the TV as a source of beautiful ambient light. If you can get the volume to an audible level, you can work in sex without giving up Real Housewives. It’s called multitasking, something we moms are all too familiar with.

As for a massage, I’m lucky if I don’t get one of my kids’ leftover Doritos corners embedded in my thigh. When I ask my husband to flick it out and slide the remaining crumbs off my tush like sand paper, does that count as a massage? Well, arguably, it’s more like an exfoliation, but it’s undeniably hot.

3. Have a Date Night Every Week. Reality Check Response: I love this one, because in theory it’s a legitimately good idea. It’s definitely worth trying every week, but unfortunately, it assumes that there will be a night each week when no one is sick or has an event/activity. It also assumes that on that same night there will be a babysitter or grandparent available, and neither you nor your hubby are too tired to go to dinner — a meal where much of your conversation will inevitably revolve around the kids.

4. Time Your Trysts Around Nap-Time. Realistic and Yes, Snarky Response: Everyone knows that there’s nothing women like more, when trying to have an orgasm, than the sense of pressure that time constraints puts on the experience. It’s like telling moms to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps,’ we’d love to do it, but it ain’t gonna happen!

5. Start Your Day With a Bang (Set your alarm an hour earlier and have an uninterrupted top-o-the-morning.) Bitchy Uncensored Response: First of all, what ambitious sex-perts think an entire hour is necessary? Nine minutes would do the trick and still, I’m not down with that idea. Do you know what I like to do before I wake up in the morning? SLEEP! In fact, THE ONLY THING I BANG IN THE MORNING IS THE SNOOZE BUTTON! Yep, I’m not even willing to bang that button one less time!

OK Mommas, do yourselves a favor, throw out those, “spice it up” pieces and “top 10 lists,” and pick quality over quantity. Or at least do it enough that you don’t end up in couples therapy.

Dead Vagina Walking

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I’m not great with dates. I can never remember minutiae like Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November or that New Years Day is exactly one week after Christmas. The individuals who know when Harvest Moons and Daylight Saving Time occur must be calendar makers or descendants of Nostradamus. If it weren’t for computerized alerts, I’d never be aware of birthdays, anniversaries, or the days Oprah is giving away gold-coated Maytags and half-sisters. The one date I can always remember – after three pregnancies in as many years – is the one that falls six weeks after delivery: The six week postpartum checkup.

It’s the appointment in which the OB will stare at your nethers under the glare of a strobe light mounted to a hardhat as she asks leading questions to discern how many times you’ve fallen down the stairs in a fit of delirium and how closely you identify with the movie The Omen. As you gently hint at the likelihood of getting a script for Tylenol PM for Infants, your doctor will smile at you, offer congratulations for your bundle of colic, and will utter the one sentence you are – no matter what her speculum says – entirely unprepared to hear:

You can resume sexual activity now.

Your Gone Fishin’ sign was just yanked right off your vagina. Mayan Year 2010 hit your private parts. If this visit follows the birth of your first baby, your husband is likely standing beside the table as this news is delivered. The grin to spread across his face will outstretch the one you saw when he was first handed his newborn child. The smile fades as he witnesses your descent through The Five Stages of Grief, all of which occur in dramatic flair with your knees still touching opposite coastlines.

Denial. “I think you have the wrong file. I just delivered a baby. A human. See, that’s her right there. That was inside of my body until she tore her way through it, like a goddamn Trojan Horse. Are you certain you went to medical school?”

Anger. “Why did you ask me here? I was told by a woman I work with that you were going to give me happy pills at this appointment, not tell me I need to be having sex with… (unsubtle head tilt in partner’s direction). And I would like my underwear back now.”

Bargaining. “Listen, I may have overreacted. Let’s find some middle ground. You pop a couple of those episiotomy stitches down there and I’ll tell all of my friends with yeast infections to come see you. Deal?”

Depression. The utterance of words during the passage through this phase ceases altogether as you consider that the only moments your day permits for a shower and a status update on Facebook have been stolen.

Acceptance. You nod slowly, shifting your eyes from the doctor, to the baby, to your husband, understanding that all are working in chorus to destroy your personal anatomy and your DVR queue.

You exit the physician’s office, quite possibly still wearing the oversized Maxi pads you absconded with from the hospital, with a slow and wearied gate. Dead Vagina Walking. Your husband, on the other hand, has a buoyancy to his step and is already suggestively whistling something by Marvin Gaye.

This is when the calendar floats into your consciousness again. Whatever day this 6 week postpartum check falls on – a Tuesday, a Friday, May, December – is the day that will be listed on your tombstone. This is the day you’re going to die. Your friends and family will eulogize your life with somber nods, “She endured too much. Sleeplessness, poor oral hygiene, elasticized waistbands, a diet of fistfuls of cereal. Despite this, her doctor told her she was ready for exercise and sex. It was too much to bear.”

Too much is exactly what it is. A nurse once whispered in my ear, upon walking out the door with my firstborn child, to be wary of the six week post-delivery time as this is the period babies present colic, when postpartum depression rears its vicious head, and – tragically – when the help and casseroles from those around you disappear. The weight of these stressors only compounds when your husband starts in with the bedroom eyes. It’s not that you don’t appreciate those eyes. May God grant Sainthood to the man who can see beyond the facade of sagging skin and stretch marks to the woman he was attracted to once before. It’s not that you don’t love your husband. It has very little to do with him actually. Your body has been hijacked by hormones, your erogenous zones assassinated by nursing, and your ability to lay prone in the dark without falling comatose has been lost. And you’re a bit terrified because your lady innards still feel a lot like Hiroshima must have looked after the A-bomb.

However, he will start dry humping your leg like an un-neutered Jack Russell Terrier if you continue to cite ‘funky stuff you don’t want to even know about down there’ as your reason for celibacy. He will start to suspect you’re stretching the truth when you say you’re considering a Divine calling to join a Roman convent. Even you understand, with the small portion of brain matter you’ve got left, that reuniting may make you begin to feel more like your old self. You’ve weathered pregnancy and delivery together without any casualties, thus there must be hope for the same outcome in the bedroom. After all, isn’t marriage about compromise and leaps of faith?

But it’s completely fair to say you’re not taking your sweatpants off.

7 Ways to Keep the Mystery in Your Marriage

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7 (LOL) Ways to Keep the Mystery in Your Marriage

My husband and I have been together almost two decades. 17 years. That is crazy. Especially since I’m only 31. Just kidding. I’m 40 and everyone knows it.

I believe there are some things that should be kept from one another. Basic human nature aspects that really don’t need to be shared. Sure this guy is your soul mate, the love of your life. But I try to keep him from seeing the elephant ear shaped labias in actual daylight. I think romance needs to stay somewhat alive. I try to keep a shred of dignity around him. If my efforts keep him wondering, keep him thinking, “this woman has such a mystique, even though I’ve been married to her all these years,” I’m doing something right.

Here goes…

1. Only wear those pore trip nose thingies on your nose when he’s not around. I even have ‘Frownies’ which are these stick on tabs you use to immobilize your face instead of Botox. They are like postage stamps for your forehead. He will never see me in these.

2. Hide your Aunt Flo stained underwear at the bottom of the hamper. Better yet- wash everything yourself and keep your husband from laundering any delicates.

3. Don’t go #2 in his presence. Yes, my husband thinks I, like other women, don’t poop. And honestly, I’m just going to pretend he doesn’t either. There are limits in our marriage. We can go #1 in each others’ company, but #2 is strictly off limits. What’s the worst is when we have to go to a hotel and eventually I have to have my morning poop. I make sure the fan is on and I keep a travel Febreeze in my product bag.

4.  Keep from seeing each other’s anuses at all costs. I don’t think my husband has seen mine. I can’t guarantee what my husband saw of me during childbirth. It happened so fast and the poor guy was forced by the nurse to hold my leg. I told them no, that I wanted my hooha to be a sacred shrine of adoration kept intact in my husband’s mind, but they insisted. I don’t care that porn stars bleach their back door, this hemorrhoid addled (yes childbirth was retched on my body) butt isn’t going to be seen by anyone (except my gyno), not even a hand mirror I hold myself. And you can guarantee I will NOT be seeing his.

5. Don’t vomit on your spouse. Thankfully this has never happened to us. Once I puked on the bathroom rug and he graciously took it out to the garbage while I crawled back in bed with the puke bowl. Which is also the salad bowl I take to our neighborhood block parties.

6. Refrain from farting during sex.  This I think I’ve done actually. We had Mexican before for dinner. I had too many margaritas. We were rolling around in the sack and I did a Carrie Bradshaw to Mr. Big for him. I think he was a little distracted about the other stuff going on and continued as usual.

7. If you’ve snuck his razor for lady grooming, rinse it off and put it back without him ever knowing. Pubes are kind of a mood killer. Hopefully he has done the same should he borrow yours ever. Guy pubes are pretty wiry. I’m counting on the fact that he doesn’t want my Lady Schick in that jungle of his. Not that he does any manscaping down there, but if he did shave his balls- it would so be some Mach 4 razor that is only man enough for the job.

So there you have it. I think I’m about 80% mysterious to my husband. I will do my darndest to keep from him my stained underwear, hemorrhoid asshole and nose strips till death do us part.  Truly, this is key to a long and healthy, happy marriage.

Sex and the Married Woman

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I used to love having sex. I couldn’t wait to marry my husband so I could boink him at every possible opportunity, and I did. Then life interfered.

We moved away from family and friends. My career took a nosedive. My husband didn’t agree with everything I said. Children arrived. Sleep departed. Fatigue set in. The dog barked. My body sagged. My sex drive evaporated, and suddenly I lay in bed one night and couldn’t remember the last time we…you know. It had been six months, at least.

In desperation, I tried to work up the energy to go through the motions, but I’d fallen so far off the bandwagon that it was embarrassing and uncomfortable to climb back on. Not only that, I used to feel cute and sexy. Now I felt matronly and invisible.

For a while, I blamed my husband. If he paid as much attention to me as he did to his job or the kids, I’d feel special and desirable again. As usual, I was wrong. It was easy to pin the blame on him, but I was the only one who knew what made me happy.

As silly as it sounds, I stopped telling myself who I should be and started listening to the real me. I always wanted to be a writer, so I endeavored to write my first romance novel. I love taking pictures, so I picked up a digital camera and looked at life through the lens. Not surprisingly, as soon as I immersed myself in the activities I loved, my happiness skyrocketed. Reinvigorated, I revamped my diet and felt significantly better. Most importantly, I finally believed my husband when he said that he liked the way I looked. Granted, I didn’t look as good as I did when I was twenty-six, but neither does my husband and I still find him attractive.

One night, as I lay in bed thinking about all the sex we used to have, I reached over and grabbed my guy. To my infinite relief, he grabbed me right back. The sex felt great; but it had an interesting side effect. We felt closer than we had in years. We touched each other more, laughed more, and flirted more. Good days were great, and bad days were cushioned by what we could look forward to in the bedroom.

Am I the only mom who fell off the bandwagon? Let’s take back our sex lives, because sex isn’t just for newlyweds and supermodels. It’s for tired parents who smell like peanut butter and baby powder. It’s for middle-aged folks with jiggly bellies and hair in weird places. It’s for people who want to get as close as possible to someone else, so why not have sex with your husband? I have a feeling you’ll both be glad you did.

Sex Before Children

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Do you remember sex before children?

I remember having sex on my couch at three in the afternoon, and that would be after the good morning sex I had earlier that day.

Ahhh, those were the times.

Nowadays my husband can forget about sex multiple times a day, hell, if I’m talking honestly he can forget about it happening multiple times a week. If he gets lucky we’re on a once a week schedule, and that’s being very lucky.

I have four children under the age of seven. I am freaking exhausted. It’s all I can do to stay on top of the laundry and the dishes, then at night I’m expected to stay on top of Eric too? Not going to happen. At least it’s not going to happen with the old frequency.

Before children sex would take hours, now if we go past 20 minutes I’m impressed. Honestly, we know each other so well we can bang it out rather quickly. Speed sex; why stretch it out? I have to be up at six with the baby. Also, I always have an ear out for a child to coming running into our room and ruin everything anyway. There have been a few times that Eric has literally thrown me off of him after spying a shadow, but at least none of the kids will be in therapy after witnessing that. How into any action can I possibly be if I’m constantly worried that I’m going to be interrupted?

If by chance we do remember to lock the door I still have to be quiet since the baby’s in our room now. I just can’t win. And neither can Eric…

And sex with the lights on? Yeah right! This poor body has been wrecked by four C-sections and four hungry children that have each claimed my breasts for their own, leaving my once perky C cups into saggy D cups. My belly has that oh so sexy hang of flab that just hangs over my scar and I’m riddled with faded stretch marks. I know, it’s the picture of hotness…

I miss the old sex. I miss the sexy undies and lacey not quite covering anything nighties. I miss the nights I would throw on the itty bitty cheerleader costume. (Oh, yes, I rocked the shit out of that costume!) I miss coming home from work knowing that night all my tension would be gone…

I wonder how other mothers do it all? It’s not that I don’t have the desire anymore, it’s that the desire to sleep wins out. Is everyone else as exhausted as me? Or are they putting on a happy face and going through the motions.

When will I get my pre-baby sex life back? That’s what I really want for Christmas.

The Good Wife

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I blame The Good Wife. A rerun no less. In my mind, our precious little girl’s loss of innocence is the direct result of a steamy, sexy elevator scene in this television drama, a scene my husband and I spontaneously chose to act out in our family room one evening. Potential lawsuit? Doubtful. Potential therapy highlight? Let’s just say we’ll be adding some money to her future therapy fund.

“Mommy! Daddy! Where are your clothes?” giggled the intruder, our daughter of eight years. Typically, the only intruders in our sex life are the insidious thoughts rattling around my brain; thoughts of the many things I could be doing with that precious free time. Updating Quicken or reading about the latest celebrity couplings on People.com come to mind. Those and thoughts of what to have as a late night snack after we’re done. Is that wrong?

Perhaps it won’t be surprising to you that our sex life, save for a brief, heated tryst in the stairwell of Macy’s department store last year (got your attention now haven’t I?), is of the once-a-week between the sheets variety. Satisfying? Yes. Connecting? Absolutely. Toe curling? Only occasionally.

And this Sunday evening was one of those precious few occasions. Not a grocery list in sight. At least for me. With perfect timing, our oldest daughter, long securely in her bed, came down the stairs and quietly padded down the hall. In normal life, meaning when her parents aren’t fucking in the middle of the family room, our daughter never gets out of bed, preferring to use her not insubstantial voice to demand another glass of water or hug from the comfort of her upstairs bedroom. On this particular evening, she uncharacteristically chose to wander downstairs and share her requests with us in person.

Without warning, without blanket or clothing in site, suddenly our little princess is staring into my naked brown eyes. As she walks closer, a note of hysterical laughter rising in her voice, she asks, “What are you doing?”

The laughter is contagious and quickly uncontrollable as my husband and I scramble to grab pillows to conceal ourselves. We “suggest” she go back upstairs to her bedroom and we’ll join her in a minute to tuck her back in. After several tense moments of mutual giggling and no movement toward the stairs, she asks again, “What are you doing? Where are your clothes?” while we repeat our directive to go wait for us in her room. When finally she does, we start breathing again and scramble to dress and calm ourselves.

Deciding the best parenting move in a delicate situation is a sure way to bring parents closer together (or closer to blows). My husband first suggests we deny it all (ca-ching goes the future therapy fund) and then deadpans, “Where’s the book?” referring to the proverbial child owner’s manual that will tell us what to do and say in this moment to unscar our precious child and wipe this scene from her memory. “We’ll tell her the truth of course,” I declare, my bravado blending with hysteria. “Follow my lead,” by which I mean don’t fuck this up and make it worse.

What happened next is a blur and surprisingly, one of my proudest parenting moments. With a grace not our own, once we cuddled with our daughter on her puffy comforter- topped twin bed, the words came. We started with the facts: Mommy and Daddy were making love, our clothes were on the couch, and although we’re antsy and giggly in this moment, making love is a good thing and one way grown ups show their love for each other. After this explanation, my brain screamed, “Ok. Show’s over. Goodnight,” but my mouth said, “Do you have any questions?” Surprise, surprise, she did.

A sampling: “Why did you and daddy have to be naked?” “Why were you sitting on daddy’s lap?” “Are you going to have a baby?” (Her thoroughness evoked a surprising mix of terror and pride in me). An equally-thorough discussion of making love and baby-making followed. As our curious daughter peppered us with questions, we breathed deeply and answered honestly (not always in that order). Somehow, this crisis turned into a loving connection and I hope, a good story without a lot of therapy in future retellings. Our conversation officially ended when I delivered this deal-breaker, “Making love is fun and feels good. You may want to do it too when you’re older and in love with someone.”

“Ewww! I doubt that will happen, Mom,” she stated with a groan. With a sleepy sigh and a hug, we were dismissed from her room. The Good Wife awaited.