THE SIGN ON MY BACK DOOR TODAY:
Seriously - there is NOTHING that deteriorates the marital intimacy in my life more than my beautiful, amazing children. Who ironically are the product of that very intimacy.
I realize I am NOT the first "mommy blog" to talk about the topic of finding time for you and your spouse.
But I might be the most honest!
Hold on to your hats - and to my husband's mom (my most faithful reader) - you should probably skip this one, okay? ;)
(SERIOUSLY. Stop reading this Mom.)
* * *
I remember back when we started dating. Do you remember those days too? When you first start to get romantically interested in another person, the chemistry is off the charts. Just brushing hands will send electricity down your spine. If he actually TOUCHES you on purpose - even innocently? Look out. I can remember feeling like I needed to install my own chastity belt and toss the key on some of those first dates!
Which of course, brings us to the very strange thing that is the Christian Dating Culture. Yes. The CDC. It's a worthy acronym to steal.... because honestly, in evangelical Christian circles, S-E-X might as well be a communicable disease.
You're not allowed to HAVE sex.
You likely should not know anything ABOUT sex.
You really should only even TALK about sex if you're talking about why you shouldn't have sex until you are married.
I realize for my readers who grew up outside of this bizarre environment, the very notion is absurd. Not have sex? Um..... what is that?
Now, the strangest part is that you spend an AWFUL long time trying not to think about / talk about / have sex, but then you get married and think you'll be doing the deed five times daily for the rest of your life!
Ultimately, the whole sex thing is the biggest joke of my Christian upbringing.
First: just as many kids were experimenting with sex in my church cohort as outside of it - maybe more! (remember: forbidden ANYTHING is better, right???).
Second: while teaching abstinence seems like a godly and noble idea to the patriarchy running the church, it's purely about - well, some notion of PURITY. Remember the Puritans? Yep. The Victorian era? Yep. The whole "don't have sex till you're married" (or, to quote Josh McDowell - remember him?!? - "I'm worth waiting for!") is a farce. It's a thinly veiled attempt at controlling women and creating in them a sense of guilt and unworthiness. It is the most unrealistic expectation in the world, and it has the complete opposite effect: like I said, if you're NOT allowed to do something, it only makes you want to try it even more. I cannot tell you how many of my friends (Christian or otherwise) were disappointed in their first sexual experience... and I think that had a lot to do with overblown expectations. This is where honesty comes into the picture.
I think we have a duty to teach our children about sex. About how it works, and how it does NOT work. Teach our girls that sex is powerful, and how to use it properly. Not to abuse the power. Not to cry wolf. How to defend against unwanted advances. How to say no - or yes - and when each is or is not the right thing to say. Teach our boys that sex is about intimacy; teach them why pornography destroys intimacy. Teach them how to be respectful and loving, with or without sex involved. Teach contraception. Teach about sexually transmitted infections. Give our kids the HPV vaccine. Buy them a condom, for crying out loud. Help them learn that their sexuality is theirs to control and no one else's.
But I digress... this is about what did happen - not what should have happened.
* * *
Fast forward to my early twenties. After many years of working towards that increasingly difficult standard of being a virgin on my wedding night, I finally had just had enough (or... not enough???). I started experimenting with sex in a way that maybe wasn't very healthy, and I directly link that behaviour to those "church" expectations I had been instilled with from a young age.
Without going into a crass delineation of my every sexual experience, suffice it to say that when I met Ian, I initially turned him down flat.
I turned him down because I wanted to have sex - and I knew he wasn't that kind of guy. Somehow, even just from chatting briefly online, I could tell he was going to be the upstanding, large "c" conservative kind of guy who thought he was forgoing sex because he was respecting women or being a good Christian by doing so.
I honestly figured I would destroy him if I dated him. I was very much interested in being sexually active, and I thought he was a great guy who didn't deserve to be jilted by someone like me. So I gently said, "Thanks but no thanks" and carried on my merry way.
About a year later, we did go on a date (I promise I will write a blog about it eventually, Mary!).
And I was right: he definitely thought we should NOT be having sex. Like - at all.
It was a pretty difficult time for me! At that point I didn't care about what some minister or youth leader told me - I wanted to share everything with this man I was in love with. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
During those times of struggling about whether or not we could or should or would have sex, or how "far" we might go down that path and still be considered "Christians" (ugh, I cringe even now), I could not imagine a time when we would be fully "allowed" (I can't believe I even typed that word) to have sex and yet find it nearly impossible to make happen.
Yes - that's where being a MOM comes into this story (and you all thought I was going to tell you whether Ian and I "did it" before we tied the knot!)
* * *
I swear, I would do just about ANYTHING to get my kids out of the house for an afternoon or evening or even half an hour so that I could get naked with my husband.
Wait: revise that. At this point, half-naked and ten minutes would be fantastic.
It is SERIOUSLY difficult to raise children, work a full-time job, manage a household, watch my weight, exercise my body, AND find time or energy for sex. (I'm sort of a bit surprised we even MANAGED to have a second child.)
I have tried sending my kids away for the night. It would be a brilliant idea, except no one wants to take my youngest (see: previous posts about no sleep). I try to explain that just taking one child - and the easier one to manage at that - defeats the purpose.
So now I have resorted to Ninja Sex Warrior tactics.
With my "Latin Loafer" (his term, not mine) working in the same town as me now, it has become a tempting possibility to run home for "lunch." So far, that has NOT worked. (yes, I'm laughing as I write this, OMG.)
I tried sending the kids to daycare on a recent school closure day and greeting my husband wearing perfume and a Pashmina. Yes. JUST perfume and a scarf.
That also did not work.
It turns out that shovelling five inches of compacted ice and snow for several hours makes sleep more exciting than sex - for both of us.
Honestly - it is not for lack of trying.
But when one kid refuses to go to sleep until nearly midnight, and the other wakes with nightmares at four am, and the alarm is going off at six am... well, it really limits the opportunities to enjoy sex. Or sleep. Or life: really, who am I kidding?
When you spend all weekend working on household projects and marking and laundry and errands - falling into bed at the end of the day is definitely more urgent than sex.
So today, I became the above-mentioned Ninja Sex Warrior.
I went out shopping this morning with a friend, while our kids played at her house.
Ian got some time to himself to unwind and get his list of "stuff" done.
When we got back from shopping, my friend offered to keep my oldest for the afternoon. I left her with her friends and brought Kinsey home for her nap.
And then I told Ian to GET. INTO. THE. BEDROOM. NOW.
I was definitely ready to get busy - and then, it hit me.
This would ABSOLUTELY be the time that our doorbell would ring.
It would be the girl from down the street wanting to play with Gwyneth. Or the mentally ill fellow who rings our doorbell once a week and wants a pop and some cash. Or my mother. Or my MOTHER-IN-LAW who so help me is likely having a coronary if she's still reading this (STOP!).
There was no way I was going to let someone wake up that sleeping cherub in the next room.
Hence, my sign taped overtop of our doorbell.
All I can say is, thank God for friends who willingly take my kid for an afternoon and for a two-year-old who won't sleep at night, but naps like a champ.
And thank God for tubal ligations, because I am NOT having any more interruptions to my booty calls!