By Lisa Sugarman
Now don’t get all prudish on me just because the word sex is in the title this week—it’s nothing we should feel funky talking about; we’re all adults here. Plus, it’s something that most, if not all of us, are thinking about a good majority of the time anyway. (Clearly, some more than others.)
But for those of us with kids, sex is an incredibly fascinating topic to talk about in terms of how it changes once you toss little people into the equation. Because once we have kids to consider, intimacy becomes a one hundred percent free-for-all. You take it wherever, whenever, and however you can. No questions asked. And there isn’t a master bedroom anywhere in the world that would disagree.
So I thought it might be nice, for once, to laugh and cry about all the challenges together, just so we can keep things in perspective. After all, humor is the great equalizer. And since we’re all facing the same kinds of challenges—like fatigue, lack of opportunity, fatigue, interruptions, fatigue—sometimes it’s just nice to hear that we’re not alone feeling the way that we feel.
I mean, once we have kids, creativity, speed, stealthiness, diligence, and flexibility become our greatest assets. (And yes, I mean flexibility both in terms of agility and adaptability.) We become dirty little ninjas, tiptoeing, sneaking, hiding, and stalking in order to get the job done. It’s just a fact. And it’s something we all deal with as parents.
But just because the playing field changes dramatically once we have kids, doesn’t mean the game has to be any less exciting. Because it doesn’t. It just takes a deeper commitment on behalf of the players to ensure that we get adequate playing time.
Now I’m not the kiss-and-tell type, so you’re not going to get any personal anecdotes here, but I will say that maintaining intimacy as a parent is as grueling as it is hilarious. That’s because we have to take opportunities when opportunities present themselves. Whether we’re in the mood for them, or not. Whether we have nine hundred other things to do, or not. Or whether the kids are home, or not.
And as we all know, opportunities don’t always present themselves in the most timely or convenient ways. That’s why most parents have the same mantra: Be spontaneous! Which means that the only rule in the game of having sex is there are no rules. Anything goes. Unfortunately, though, that can create some pretty ridiculous situations.
Yes, I’m talking about near misses and getting caught with our pants down, literally. Those are constant preoccupations. Because getting busy in a place where children live involves two very critical stipulations: get it done and don’t get caught in the process.
I mean, we’ve all been there—exhausted, miles away from being in the mood, distracted, craving alone time when no one is clinging to our leg or balanced on our hip. But for the sake of maintaining romance in our relationship, we have to preserve the essence of the spark that brought us together, or the fire eventually goes out. Even if it means we have to toss out the occasional lie to our children about why our bedroom door is jammed and just won’t open from the inside.
Sometimes, though, just out of sheer exhaustion, we get sloppy. Sometimes, we just forget to have our radar turned on. Sometimes we mistime our window of opportunity. We’re only human, after all. And after a full day of working, taking care of our kids and our house and our pets and our chores, there usually isn’t much gas left in the reserve tank for extracurriculars. There just isn’t. Which is why, oftentimes, the only thing any of us wants is to climb into our flannel pjs and knee-high fuzzy socks and curl into a tight little ball under our deliciously cozy down duvet. And disappear. Go on, dispute it. You know you can’t.
All I’m saying is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time to make that old black magic happen with kids around. But it is doable. And that maybe, just maybe, the trick isn’t to be discouraged because we now have obstacles but, instead, to be motivated by the challenge of working around them. The bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff, remember? We just can’t get disheartened or beat ourselves up if we don’t have the stamina or the ability for a full July Fourth fireworks display every time.
But in the end, it’s all good because we all have beautiful children to love and spend our life with and pre-plan sex around until they leave for college. (Yeah, we’re all screwed. And not in the good way.)
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.