Sunday, June 8, 2008

hi guys!

Every June (ok, so this is only the second one, but I'm feeling hopeful about the years to come), Newspeak! publishes their Sex Issue. I wrote a little feature for it. So for all of you who don't live 'round these parts and can't pick up the paper, here 'tis......

When I read the sex stories from last year’s Newspeak! June issue, I remember thinking to myself, “Yeah, yeah, all well and good and I remember some of those similarly insane moments from my life”, but none of them came close to revealing the beautiful complexity that is…… SEX AFTER MARRIAGE AND KIDS. So I figured I’d have to write it myself. I know for a fact there are other Newspeak! readers out there who are married/partnered, have kids, and have sex. This one’s for you.

It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. But it really isn’t that hard, either. It was harder when they were younger, and woke up three or four times in the middle of the night, and I was so tired from feeding, cleaning, changing diapers, and nursing (I won’t even go into the whole “these boobs are mine and the baby’s so don’t you even think about touching them right now” stage), that sex was absolutely the last thing on my mind when collapsing into bed at the end of the day. And then, if you choose to have your babies sleep in bed with you (known as “attachment parenting”), as we did, it becomes even a bit more complicated. I’m pretty sure, even though the memory from the infant/toddler years is rather hazy, that we didn’t have sex IN OUR OWN BED for about two years! There was the living room floor, the bedroom floor, the couch, the shower, the tent.

You know, it just seems to me that people who worry about a loss of sex life if they let their kids sleep in their bed with them simply lack imagination!

I can’t even begin to count the number of times we would just get started, and from the baby monitor would come the little cry of an infant waking up. Or a scared toddler who had just woken up from a nightmare screaming, “Mommmmmy!” Because, truly, once you have kids, the only time you can possibly have sex is when they’re asleep. That, or while they’re watching Saturday morning cartoons. You do all know why Saturday morning cartoons were invented, do you not!? And enforced nap times. Very important. I remember several Sunday afternoons of frantically trying to get the boys to nap at the same time because we wanted to have sex so desperately!

Now that they’re older (seven and nine), and sleep through the night in their own beds, the bedroom has become our own Chamber of Secrets once again. Until a few weeks ago, anyway……

My husband John and I have a master bedroom upstairs, for which there is no locking door. Hell, there’s not even a door, just an opening from the top of the stairs. This lack of a door has never been a problem for us until the other night, when a little visitor came to call.

It was during that post-orgasmic-still-connected-and-slightly-moaning stage, when from the foot of the bed, our 9-year-old son held up his right hand, waved, and said, “Hi guys!” Those were his only two words, but in his impish smile and tone of voice I heard this: “This is so cool-my mommy and daddy are mating just like the animals on all those nature shows I watch and this has got to be IT!”

It was the shock of hearing him before we saw him that made the moment so memorable. I still wonder to this day exactly how long he had been standing there before he uttered those words. Like he had been waiting until it was all over to declare his presence.

There was a brief moment of panic as we immediately tried to issue him downstairs, my husband looking over his shoulder and me trying to sit up, both of us frantically searching for the covers to hide our butt nakedness. Just then the sudden realization of the absurdness of it all sunk in, and the only thing left to do was laugh. Hysterically. John rolled off to my left, we pulled the duvet up over us, and invited our little visitor to come up onto the bed.

He lay down on my right, on top of the covers, and rested his head on my shoulder. I had my husband’s head on my left, my son’s on my right, my arms around both of them, all snuggled together in our King size bed, in which we had all slept together for so many, many years as the boys were growing up.

We lay like that for a few seconds, and then John spoke. “So, I guess you know now how your mommy and daddy made you, huh?” That smile again, so all-knowing and like some great secret had just been revealed. “Uh-huh”. We talked some more about sex, (he already knew the details, so it wasn’t anything new), laughed, snuggled, and then I finally walked him back downstairs to his room.

When I came back upstairs, John and I laughed and laughed and laughed some more before we finally fell asleep. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but I like to believe that by our actions, we gave our son a gift: a memory of the goodness, the naturalness, the laughingness of sex. Only time will tell.


Jim Thomsen said...

Cute and funny ... and yet, a little disturbing. Maybe more than a little. This could have bad echoes for him when he's 12 or 13 or so and starting to have wet dreams and starting to get a handle on all these strange new surging feelings in his brain and body. If his sexual frame of reference to that point is his mom and dad doing "it," it could harm his natural psycho-sexual development.

Hopefully, though, it's just an anomaly, and that he winds up jerking off in the bathroom to mail-order-catalog models and fantasies of older neighborhood girls like a normal boy.

I can't decide if it would be better or worse to talk to him further about what he saw ... and why he stayed to watch. What do you think?

Friar Tuck said...

Despite the redeeming of a potentially awkward situation, I would be looking to get a door on my bedroom.

Anonymous said...

Until he land in a therapist's office years from now!

Of course sex is normal and of course kids need to know that, but I truly don't ever want my sons seeing me engaged in it. Too much of an image to have of their own parent(s).

Kate said...

Oh, I so totally relate to all of this. My kids are about the same ages as yours, but we haven't had the midnight visit yet: the kids are sound sleepers; and we do have a bedroom door. Without that, I don't think my proper British husband would be able to get it up. This story reminded me of some of the darkest days of my marriage (when our younger kid was a baby), when I thought we would never have fun sex again! Surprise! It came back. Thanks for this post.

Cindy Fey said...

A great story. I love that exchange between your husband and your son.

I don't understand the whole idea of this scene of laughter and joy being possibly traumatic. Violence is disturbing. You gave your son no shame, no fear.

Jim Thomsen said...

I beg to differ. I don't know that this is a healthy way for a child to have to accept that his or her parents are sexual beings. Boys, especially, are hardwired for visual stimulus. If he associates his mom with his sexual urges/fantasies as he starts developing them in a few years, that could present some serious problems.

I really hope it's not the case. But I do think it's a possibility.

suesun said...

The point is- it happened. That fact I cannot change. But we CAN control our reactions. We could have continued to freak out and then yell at our kid to "Get out of here! Go downstairs... NOW!" Then ignore it, and pretend it didn't happen. Would that have been better?

Will we talk to him further about this incident? We talked about it again the next day. I was going to mention that he not talk about it at school, but then I realized that I didn't have to tell him that - he already knew.

The boys will continue to grow... I assume it will come up again. When the time is right, I will ask him about what he remembers. Memory in children is a complicated phenomenon. It will be interesting to see what he remembers......

There is also the fact that human beings all over the world have sex in the same room as their children, simply because they have no choice. I don't think millions of the world's children who have witnessed their parents doing it are scarred for life or need therapy.

And god knows kids end up in therapy for so many many many WORSE things their parents do.......

Thanks for all the comments... I've been In NYC with the family and not checked the blog for a few days... it was great to log on and read this conversation!

reliv4life said...

When we were building our house we all 5 lived in a small two bedroom apartment. I guess my older two kids, that were about 10 and 11 at the time heard us have sex a time or two. They didn't even tell us at the time, but it came out a few years ago, they are 17 and almost 16 now - it is a truly disturbing memory for them now. So much so that I feel terrible about it. Yes, it is in the past and already done and can't be changed...but,it has affected them. My 17 yr old daughter is actually physically nauseous when she remembers it. I hope you are right and it is done and he will have no lasting effects, but when he becomes a teen it may resurface. NO kid wants to think of their parents having sex.

Jim Thomsen said...

Hi, Sue. I'm glad you're having a good time in the big city.

I want to make clear that I'm not saying that you did anything wrong. In fact, I think you and your husband handled things about as well as possible.

"There is also the fact that human beings all over the world have sex in the same room as their children, simply because they have no choice. I don't think millions of the world's children who have witnessed their parents doing it are scarred for life or need therapy."

I think this is true because those kids don't grow up in cultures or societies where sex is treated as a taboo. American culture is perhaps the most uptight culture on earth about sex — we are heavily invested in making kids especially feel sneaky, dirty, ashamed and secretive about sex (while insisting they be hyper-aware of sex everywhere they turn). I think all that cultural pressurization reaches a critical mass that confuses a kid when he or she is presented with an "European moment" like the one your son had. I think it's for that reason that it's POSSIBLE he may come away from that more confused than ever.

But I respect what you and your husband did ... and more than that, why you did it. Nothing done from the purity of love can ever be bad.

It's just sad that sometimes not even all the love in the world is enough to protect a kid from all the ugliness in the world.

monster paperbag said...

"but I like to believe that by our actions, we gave our son a gift: a memory of the goodness, the naturalness, the laughingness of sex. Only time will tell." --> i like that :)..

eleKtrofly said...

all this talk of therapy-- come on, your kids will be fine--

i think it's fantastic that you and your husband saw it as an opportunity to teach your child and not run into the closet as tho you were ashamed.


bmommyrun said...

Kudos for you for taking an awkward moment and normalizing it. I'm sure that many, many parents can relate to your story -- Isn't it amazing that we get to the otherside someday after having children - and rediscover sex. Thank God!!