Guest Post by Nicole Johnson
(Sex changes after marriage and kids. Here is a fictional tale of what that can look like. The names and events have been altered and imagined to protect the innocent).
Expedient, the word you think of when you hear the word lovemaking. The word used to bring visions of candles and negligees, or at the very least a matching bra and underwear. Okay, so when you’re married with kids it’s not exactly lovemaking, let’s face it; you don’t have time for that. What you have are minutes, sometimes seconds.
“You want to?” the creaky bed moves as he leans into you.
“Shh,” you say as you shift your weight into him.
He thinks you never want to. What all husbands assume about their wives you suppose. Your husband thinks your sex drive has somehow dwindled to nothing along with the breasts which have been used to nurse multiple children.
In reality, your desire is best laid out in a pie chart—33.3% of the time you’re too tired, 33.3% you’re scared you’ll get caught, the remaining 33.3% you just don’t care. If you presented things this way, he might understand. Most men are based in numbers and logic, and therefore respond to them. Reason appeals to him in the way chaos does to you.
And yes, you are missing .1% of the chart, during that time you are the old you, the one he met before children and a life which takes too much, too often. You contemplate a vagacial or at least a trim. My how you’ve let your lady hairs grow. You wonder if he notices. He doesn’t seem to notice that you haven’t had your hair cut in ten months.
Of course, a good part of marriage is pretending not to see things–the lack of compliments, the gray hairs you continue to fight, the burgeoning fine line and waist lines. You both avoid the avoidable because it keeps your union strong.
Trying to find a day when you are, or at least can remember, who you both used to be is as rare as finding you relaxed or bored, doesn’t happen.
He pulls your yoga pants off, because yes, you wear the required SAHM uniform, and it often passes for both day and sleepwear. Only one leg though. A rule you came up with when you almost got caught last month. One leg is manageable…you can use your foot to pull it back up if necessary. Pants which have been completely removed will be noticeable, even to less than attentive children. He grunts as he finds you.
You lie still as you ponder the color of your bedroom, which you hate. The ecrue is more brown than yellow—it can be either, the girl at the paint store told you before you painted the master last year on the hottest day of the summer. The heat must have gotten to you; you would never have gone brown. The color reminds you of the sepia tone of old pictures, and while you enjoy the shade in photos, you cringe seeing the pale brown on your walls. Shit, you need to paint, sooner rather than later.
You think of telling him, but decide to wait until dinner. The topic is added to your mental checklist with the hopes of adding it to the digital reminders on your phone as soon as you finish up here. You whisper it three times in an attempt to remember.
He moans in response. He must think you’re whispering something dirty, though you haven’t done this in ages. You can’t use naughty words with the kids in the next room. It makes you feel like a porn star instead of a mother. Of course, he should’ve married a porn star given his proclivity for dirty talk. Ironically, when you drop an accidental fuck when out with friends, he cringes. You guess the word only works for him in the bedroom.
“Are you doing soccer pick up tonight?” You ask as you think about painting your nails. You should never have gone black. It chips and then you forget to take it off. You’re not a college kid anymore, you remind yourself. Or Marilyn Manson.
He pokes while you pull, attempting to meet you somewhere in the middle, but it’s too early and the sound of the crying child causes you to whisper, “hurry,” and, “shh,” simultaneously…which escapes your lips in a blur sounding something like shhurry. You feel the blank stare in the back of your head as he pushes against you. You’ve been together for so long you know his expressions without even looking at him. You hear them over the phone, sense them when he texts—cannot escape them even when you want to.
Your plea for silence and expedience is as romantic as the t-shirt under your ass, a red lobster against navy blue which you refer to as his Kennedy shirt. He often pairs it with a pair of coral shorts. You’re surprised by the gesture, normally older t-shirts, ones with less prestige, are used to collect the remains of what has the potential to be half of a child in nine to ten months if you aren’t careful—which has already happened three times.
You are not planners. You’re preferred method of birth control has always been finger crossing. The t-shirt bunches up as he moves; you take one of your arms and attempt to shift the thin fabric. Why ruin the sheets if you don’t have to? Just more work for you and another barrier to your weekly meetings, which normally end before you’ve had a chance to really enjoy them.
You enjoy night sex, when everyone is sleeping and you have had some time and distance from the kids. He is always asleep when you attempt to coax him into submission. The next morning he acts as if you never even tried.
“Shh,” he says frantically pushing, “roll over.” He tries to roll you himself when you don’t oblige.
“The noise will wake them.” You don’t budge. You wonder if he even needs you there or would say a tree stump with a vagina work just as well.
“So what, one of them is already awake?” He’s sliding out.
This is normal, you talk through most of your eight to ten minute encounters—here you are being generous—some of your encounters don’t last quite so long. You bicker back and forth, things like this, barking out orders, giving directions and warnings—this is what you’ve been reduced to.
And kissing, there is no kissing. Kissing implies intimacy and time—two things you’ve lost on our way to domestic enlightenment.
“I can’t concentrate.” You try to switch positions without really moving.
“Why do you need to? Lie back and relax,” he shuffles a leg over in an attempt to help, but merely makes things more difficult.
“This shouldn’t be work, should it?” A question stated more than asked. Another child cries, this one with the ability to get out of bed and walk into your love den.
You think of waking your son in a few minutes. He will rub sleep from his eyes and kiss you with hot breath, a combination of last night’s dinner and something sweet. The morning breath of children is much better than that of adults, though you’ve never been sure why.
Your son will wrap his legs around your waist and curl into you as he once did in you womb. Soon he will be too big for this. What he doesn’t know is that your husband will drop him at school so you don’t have to. A deal brokered only minutes before, without his input or knowledge, by a father who feels he has to resort to bribery in order to get sex. He isn’t exactly wrong.
While not all of our sexual encounters are a give me this and I’ll give you that transaction, it is happening with greater frequency the deeper into married life you journey.
Your son will have twenty minutes to get ready, instead of the forty afforded to him if you were to drive him to school. The unfairness of this isn’t lost on you. Your husband gets sex. You get more time to do the things you need to without the distraction of having to load the girls into the van to drop their brother at school. Your son gets the shaft.
“Almost,” the husband whispers as if you wouldn’t know when it happened for him.
When it is over, you look at the crumbled t-shirt on the floor, throw it in the laundry basket and wonder when you can schedule your next date night. You could use it.
This post originally appeared on Suburban Sh*t Show
About the Author: Nicole Johnson is the mother of four, contributor to Scary Mommy, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and Ms. Magazine. She’s keeping her fingers, and all other crossable body parts, crossed in the hopes that her novel Everywoman, a modern tale of motherhood and the Apocalypse, will be published. Until then, she can be found on Facebook