Not that anyone wanted to know, but my husband and I walk around naked in front of our kids. But like, don’t worry — it’s totally a normal amount of nudity. I mean, not on purpose — but not not on purpose, either. It wasn’t anything we intentionally set out to do — it just sort of happened and neither of us cared much whether our four children saw us in all our middle-aged glory.
In our house, there’s nothing particularly unusual about people using the bathroom with the door open or streaking through the house naked before or after a shower — or because it’s Tuesday. It’s not like we open the front door naked — or pee with the door open when we have guests over (ah, the pre-COVID days when we could entertain visitors).
We’re not uncivilized or perverts. We’re just really lazy — but I’d appreciate you being nonjudgmental and calling us efficient. With so many children who think that when I’m sitting on the toilet is the perfect time to wheedle candy or extra screen time (or when they were toddlers — a boob), it’s really much easier for everyone involved to not close the bathroom door.
Okay, I confess.
My husband and I didn’t close the bathroom door before we had kids, either. In fact, I think we left the bathroom door open very early on in our relationship, likely killing all the romance if we had any in the first place. No mystery for us!
Truthfully, my husband and I are free with showering and changing in front of our kids because there is no need for shame. I mean, we’re not stepping into the shower and then calling a family meeting — but if our kids walk into the bathroom because they absolutely need to beg for a popsicle for breakfast right that second — they’re going to see us naked.
I want my kids to realize that our bodies are just bodies. That though bodies can be sexual, nakedness isn’t particularly noteworthy. That our bodies are not hypersexualized, its purpose only for sex. That a body is for inhabiting and using to the extent that we can or are able. We are an embodied people.
Plus, it’s good to disillusion our children early. Isn’t it a kindness to shatter any fantasies of perfect and beautiful bodies at 40-something? Their future selves should thank us.
We normalize our bodies and their functions by our sheer nonchalance.
All my kids — except the youngest — have seen my body go through the myriad changes, marvels, and indignities of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and daily living. Seeing our bodies reminds and provides my kids with openings (no pun intended) to ask endless questions about breasts, nipples, penises, tummies, butts, buttholes, vaginas, body hair, and whatever else. In fact, my kids are comfortable asking all the time. Too much, really. Like at Thanksgiving dinner in front of my mother.
Some of our most important discussions about bodies, bodily autonomy, and consent have happened when I was naked.
My children have indulged their fascination with breasts and asked (or just went for it — an ever work-in-progress lesson on consent) to touch or take closer looks. They have seen milk come out of my nipples and even tried to help me hand express breast milk. They love to watch their fingers disappear as they poke into my squishy stomach. They make funny faces with my very wrinkled and striped belly and blow raspberries. They love to grab a hold of my fat and jiggle and laugh and tell me how it’s comfy.
All my kids have seen me empty and insert menstrual cups — my youngest has even crawled in between my legs and looked up to see where the cup went. When my oldest son complained that it’s gross, I reminded him that he’s the one who walked into my bathroom. No one asked for him so he could kindly keep his opinions to himself. I also lectured him about menstruation and how it’s a totally normal bodily function and to get over it already.
I let them do it all.
I do want to note that though my husband and I are fine with our kids seeing us naked, he and I have very different boundaries. There are certain things my husband finds disrespectful or inappropriate and he will tell our kids to give him privacy or to go away. Whereas I have much looser boundaries and don’t much care at all. After you’ve suffered the ignominy of an entire fleet of doctors and nurses walking through your birthing room while your underparts were on full display (4 separate times!) or when a nice nurse massaged your poop out onto the hospital bed — what’s a little nakedness amongst family?
Will we still be as free with nudity when my children grow older, hit puberty, and adulthood? I guess the timeline is up to them. Once they express being uncomfortable with it, we’ll definitely respect those boundaries.
Personally, I can’t imagine a teenager or adult wanting to see their parents en déshabillé … so maybe by then, my kids will finally leave me to poop in peace.
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