Married With Teenagers: Where Have All The Good Times Gone?
I found this article that I wrote about three years ago for a blog called Moms In Babeland (now on hiatus). Oddly enough, things haven’t changed much for me. I thought you might enjoy it.
As with most new mothers, when my babies were babies, sex was a hard thing to fit in. The nursing, the crying, the pooping, the barfing, the nursing, the crying, the pooping, the barfing – it was a never-ending cycle of body and mind-usurping chaos. Add to this, the burden of household chores and the responsibility of gainful employment, and one becomes the poster child for the movie “Night of the Living Dead”.
Now, I’ve never actually fallen asleep during sex, but I’ve come pretty close. And I’m not sure I should mention this – I mean, it does seem to cross the line from acceptable to perverse – but I vaguely recall shoving a breast into my infant son’s mouth while at the same time allowing my husband to “finish up” as it were. It was a last ditch effort to do two things: one, to stop the crying of a near hysterical baby, and two, to break a month long dry spell in the bedroom. What is it they say, desperate times call for desperate measures?
Sure, I’ve done the more traditional mother maneuvers as well, like I’ve traded romance for a good night’s rest on many, many, MANY occasions. I’ve even stopped my husband mid-thrust to check if the baby was choking on his/her own saliva. Yes, I’ve mastered the art of putting my children before my husband, but as a mother, isn’t that a prerequisite?
Despite it all however, as a couple, we managed to make it through the first decade of parenthood. And call me crazy – call me deliriously optimistic – but I thought that meant we were over the hump. Naively, I thought that meant our sex life was on the road to recovery forever and ever, amen. Certainly, we may have gotten back to normal (whatever that is) for a while – when our kids were between the ages of about four and twelve, when they went to bed early and actually slept through the night – but over the past few years, we have slowly slipped back into that pit of connubial frigidity. Regrettably, a life of solo showers and detached sleeping configurations has snuck up on us again.
In fact, when we do have sex now, we’ve taken to marking it on the calendar just to see how pathetic our situation really is. Yikes, it’s once a week, twice if we’re lucky. A couple of times, sex has even gotten pushed to once every fourteen days or so, and it is then that I can see the build up of semen clouding my husband’s eyes. Masturbation, you say? Sorry, we don’t have time for that either. Well, he probably does. Men are like that.
Nowadays, with the three kids aged fourteen, sixteen and eighteen, there is always something going on. When they were babies, it was feeding, diapers and colic. Now, it’s relationships, school, sports, other extra curricular activities, and a shit load of hormones. If and when we do try to sneak away for a private moment, those demons of interference are on high alert. “Hey, where are you going? What are you doing?”
Just yesterday for instance, after a crazy month of only waving to each other in the halls, my husband and I decided enough was enough. At around 10:00 p.m., he called to me, “I’m going upstairs, dear…” which meant, “If you want my stump in your rump, you’d better get up here.”
Enter our daughter fresh from the bathroom. Up to that point in the evening, we’d been watching television together and the show’s not quite over. “Where are you going?” She is confused.
“I’m going upstairs.”
“To spend some time with your father.”
Like most fourteen-year-old girls, she’s a little too precocious for her own good. “That’s gross. Can’t you guys at least wait until we are asleep?”
“What are you talking about?” I answer, feigning ignorance.
“We all know that you’re going upstairs to have sex,” she says smugly.
Too tired to argue, I reply, “But you guys NEVER go to sleep, so what other choice do we have?” I am angry now and something even more regrettable is about to come out of my mouth. I am about to pull the guilt card. “And if your father and I don’t have sex, then we’ll end up hating each other, and if we end up hating each other, then we might get a divorce. You wouldn’t want that, now would you?” Bad, bad mother, I know, but it was the truth. A marriage without sex – good sex – is no marriage at all, not as far as I’m concerned. As my grandmother used to say, “Sex is like air. It’s not important unless you’re not getting any.”
So am I saying that we parents are doomed to a life without intimacy? No. Yes. Well maybe sometimes, though as long as we can share in this woebegone existence when it occurs, the “hardest job in the world” becomes slightly less torturous. Knowing you’re not alone is half the battle, isn’t it?