No Sex In The City -- Laura Houston
Babies are their own form of birth control. They ruin sex. They don’t kill the desire. Just the act. Sure. Thanks to shifting hormones, shock, awe, and exhaustion, the sex drive is gone for a few months after birth, but fortunately it comes right back at the most unexpected times – usually in the middle of the day when the babies are playing quietly or napping and my husband is at work entrenched in a meeting. The floods of desire rarely come at a convenient time and place for me. And I am the sort of woman who pays close attention to sex, the frequency, the quality, and the small little nuances in between. It’s an important element to me in my marriage.
Following the advice of a friend who does not have twins but who does have a full-time nanny, I dedicated Tuesday night as “romance night.” I announced this to my husband who stopped reading his Facebook newsfeed and said, “Why? What did you do?” I explained to him that we really needed to set aside some time for intimacy. He looked around at the mess of toys in the living room, the dishes in the sink, and the pile of laundry under the waiting diligently by the washing machine and said “OK,” which every woman knows really means, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
So Tuesday rolled around and I got ready. I did yoga for an hour so I’d feel lithe and sexy, and I threw in 50 sit-ups, which I read is supposed to help orgasms. I put the boys down for an extra long nap and tackled the daunting task of hair removal, gave myself a pedicure, styled my hair, and put on makeup all the way down to mascara. I spent the afternoon cleaning the house, doing laundry, and preparing a nice meal. I chilled wine, sprayed the sheets with rose scented linen spray, and took the boys to the park for a good romp on their favorite jungle gym to make sure they were worn out. Dave came home at 6:30, and by then my makeup had worn off, my hair was in a ponytail, and my legs were covered in red bumps. And you guessed it – the only one ready for an early bedtime was me.
I needed to rethink my plan.
I did a google search. I read the mommy boards. I bought an issue of “Oprah” – the one where Dr. Phil discussed sex and intimacy in marriage. I came back to Dave with a new plan. “We need to be spontaneous,” I told him. He stopped editing his PowerPoint presentation and said, “OK.” So I set about to make our household good and ready for spontaneity, and if I had not been a sleep deprived mother, I would have seen the futility in this act. I spent a month trying to open up our lives to “spur-of-the-moment” romance, but what I found was that in those times I really needed to get something done or take a break myself.
Finally my good and patient husband said, “Honey, why don’t you just take it easy? We’ll let it happen when it happens. The fact that it’s important to you is enough for me.” I stopped reading an article about making organic baby food.
“Really?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I just said that to make you feel better.”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, thanks for lying to me.”
He picked up my hand and squeezed it.
“I’m not giving up on it yet,” I told him.
“I think you’ll do better if you just relax,” he said.
“When have you ever known me to relax?” I said.
So I tried meditating to help me find my calm and happy place. This was even a bigger joke than planning spontaneity. I changed from my yoga pants into a pair of ratty jeans and sat down with a glass of wine and had a good think.
There are a few mood kills for mothers, the obvious one being a crying baby, and I had tried in the past to make sure the boys were freshly diapered, fed, comfortable, and occupied with a nap or with their favorite toys. However, they could always sense some thing was going on and they would cry or scream at the top of their lungs until I went into check on them. Then they would plop back down for a nap until I went back to our bedroom and tried to get busy again.
It occurred to me that I could not consistently prevent my boys from disrupting sex in spite of my best efforts. But I could control how I reacted. And as every happy mother knows, the best way not to react is not to know.
So this Tuesday night when the husband comes home the house will be somewhat clean, dinner will be take out, the boys will be fed and possibly bathed, and I am going to have an aphrodisiac more powerful than the lingerie I’ll be wearing under my dress: noise canceling head phones.