I am a mother…
I became a mother at 18 and I had three children by the time I was 23. Yes, I know, I was still just a baby. I was younger than my three oldest children currently are. I was so young that I almost feel raising my first three babies was the beginning of ‘me’. If you’re reading this you are most likely a mom, or at least planning on becoming one someday so I’m just going to give you my truth, woman to woman. There has been nothing in my life that has triggered me more, stretched me as often, brought me to my knees in surrender, held up the mirror of truth (not always pretty), or asked that I become a better version of myself more than my role as mother to my children. There is also nothing in my life that has brought me more joy.
I’ve screwed up a lot…
I’ve experienced a lot of unexpected moments and experiences during the 23 years I’ve been in collaboration with my children and I haven’t always been prepared or had the appropriate tools to deal with them all. In short. I’ve messed up a bunch.
I’ve also learned a lot about who I am and who I want to become. I’m going to share one of the places where I’ve struggled most, it feels vulnerable and like maybe I’m the only woman who’s experienced this.
Isn’t that always how we feel when exposing our underbelly?
Part of who I want to be for this community of women at Beyond The Red Tent is someone who can tell her story even at the risk of being alone in the experience. I hope that maybe some of you will see parts of your own story in mine and that together we can support each other along the way…
Sex was our thing…
I was married to my high school sweetheart. He was tall, dark and handsome. We met when I was 15 and we were married by the time I was 18. Sex was our thing. We were good at it, had lots of it and it quickly became the way we connected. No deep thoughts or conversations needed. We were young and “in love”. Who’s been there?
Young and in love is awesome, but it’s also very difficult to sustain and you don’t really know what you want from a partner.
We had three babies in our first 5 years of marriage. After my first two sons were born I rebounded quickly. We still had a very active sex life when they were babies. So, we were all good. Then came my daughter, baby number three, and everything shifted.
Was it hormones? Maybe.
Was I overwhelmed? Definitely.
Was it because I breastfed her for almost 3 years (much longer than the boys) and so my lack of sex drive had a bigger impact? For sure.
No matter the reason, I just didn’t want sex in the same way and it took a toll on our marriage. Sex was our thing after all. When I didn’t want it my husband thought I didn’t love him, and I was so young I didn’t have the tools I needed to express adequately what was going on. So instead I felt guilty.
Then the babies grew up and our sex life came back so we were all good… until we weren’t but that’s a story for another time.
I felt guilty about not wanting sex…
I was always a very sexual person. I initiated sex often – this began in high school with my very first time having sex. I was lucky, it was 100% my choice (unlike many of my friends). I love having sex and connecting with another human in that way.
So, when I don’t have a sex drive there is a part of me that feels like it’s missing. I haven’t had many sexual partners, but I feel like I’ve had some damned good sex.
When my high school sweetheart and I divorced after almost 15 years of marriage I was, for the first time in my life, free to have sex with whomever I wanted. It was fun and liberating, and exciting. The Taiko drummer comes to mind [this is me blushing]. Those days didn’t last long because… sigh. I fell in love.
I fell in love…
So, just a couple of years after my divorce I found myself married again. To make a long story short my husband Joe and I made a very conscious decision to have a child together shortly after falling in love.
At 35 I found myself, once again, a breastfeeding mother.
My journey with my sex drive is a beautiful example of how being a mother to young children shifts you in ways you never could imagine. It’s also the part of my feminine journey that I feel shame around, or perhaps it’s guilt. I’m not quite sure exactly, but I do know that I feel I’m not a ‘good’ wife when my libido is low (clearly I still have work to do around this)… and when I’m breastfeeding my sex drive is at rock bottom.
I still didn’t want to have sex…
All of the personal development work that I did after my divorce didn’t prepare me to once again not want sex.
My three older children were embarking on their teenage years and I had completely forgotten about the realities of having a newborn again. I was quickly reminded by the sweet little curly-haired baby girl in my arms. Having a newborn is magical, blissful, and euphoric. It’s also exhausting, emotional and at thirty-five it was a new reality regarding physically coming back to myself.
Nothing bounced back this time around. Literally. Nothing. The only things bouncing were my boobs.
Here I was in my sexual prime and I found myself in the cycle of breastfeeding, pregnant, pregnant, pregnant and breastfeeding again. In the past 7 years, I’ve spent 5 of them breastfeeding and the other two years recovering from miscarriages.
To say my sex drive has taken a hit is an understatement.
Simply writing this down I can feel the guilt, the shame and the sadness that comes with losing this piece of myself. I know that not all women experience this, but I do and have.
My relationship with Joe is very different than my first marriage. He hasn’t complained often about our abysmal sex life during the past seven years but I know it’s taken a lot for him to support me where I am. Again, the guilt. I feel that he didn’t sign up for having a wife who is basically asexual when she’s breastfeeding. Poor Joe… Guilt… Guilt…
I feel guilty and I miss feeling sexy…
Am I alone here?
Raise your hand if you feel guilty when you’re not in the mood and your husband isn’t getting laid as often as he’d like or as often as you’d like him to. I really hope I’m not the only one.
Here’s the thing. Even though I haven’t wanted sex while I’ve been in this “phase”. I’ve so so deeply missed that part of myself. Feeling sexy just feels good and desperately desiring your partner is so invigorating. I mourn having lost my ‘sexy’ for so long. I want to take a cue from Justin Timberlake and bring sexy back.
My youngest son is almost three as I’m writing this and I’ve just very recently weaned him (like a week ago). I finally can see the light at the end of this sexless tunnel.
I am beginning to actually want sex again.
The long lost tingle when my husband kisses me is returning. God bless that tingle. I am thinking about sex, and when I look at him I am finding desire again.
This has been a long road, for both of us. I am hoping that at 42 I still have many years left where I want and enjoy sex but the reality is that peri-menopause is just a few years on the horizon. Cue the violins and say a prayer for me.
We surrender pieces of ourselves as mothers…
There are so many pieces of us as mothers that we put on hold while we raise our children. Whether it’s our sex drive, our careers, our dreams, or our desires I think all of us have experienced the feeling of being a stranger to ourselves at one time or another.
I had the blessing of having a space of time where I got to experience what simply being me was like and I did carry this deep knowledge of myself with me when having young children the second time around, and it has served me well. Even with that knowledge I still got a bit lost in the shuffle.
Through the years it’s been made very apparent to me just how important it is to do things that bring me joy while in the throes of raising young children. I’ve learned how to care for my body and my spirit and how to nourish them both well.
The one piece I’ve felt has been out of my control over these past 7 years has been my sex drive. I’ve had to surrender, value myself more, learn to see myself as a beautiful woman even when physically I see the signs of aging and the five children I’ve birthed. I have had to dig deep to find all of the parts of me that I love. I value who I am and I am proud of the way I’ve navigated the journey back to myself this time around.
Doing the work to become a whole and healthy version of myself physically and emotionally is something I’ll never take for granted. It is invaluable, and sex pales in comparison to being deeply content with who you are.
This mama is bringing sexy back…
I have to say though… having and wanting sex is super fun and I am so glad it’s coming back to me slowly but surely. I love the part of me that enjoys being a divinely sexual woman, and I enjoy exploring sex and sexuality and how it can tie into spiritual development (that’s a post for another time).
Right now, having a sex drive again feels like a little slice of heaven that I’m not going to take for granted. I may have missed out on my sexual prime in my late 30’s but you’d better believe that I’m going to attempt to make up for it… get ready Joe.
This mama is bringing sexy back.