It’s my son’s fault that my daughter was conceived.
My husband and I had come to count on him as our main form of birth control—because he was so impeccably good at knowing exactly when we were feeling amorous and immediately waking up and ruining everything. The phenomenon happened so often, we named it “Project Prevent Siblings.” It was always the same. We’d be silently brushing our teeth in the dark, eyes half closed with exhaustion, when Lance would look sideways at me, half-grin, and raise his eyebrows. Then I’d snort, roll my eyes, and spit out a mouthful of foamy toothpaste. The mere thought of sex was almost taxing enough to actually put me to sleep where I stood, narcolepsy style, but my husband did look so cute in his boxer briefs. There was a time in our marriage when I was sexual, so maybe after a quick wipe down with a baby wipe I might be able to rally, I’d reason? Then, we’d tiptoe to bed, get under the covers, grin at each other, and bring our lips together—that’s when Noah would wake up. After rocking, nursing, trading, rocking, singing, and patting the kid back to sleep, one of us was drooling into our pillow, and the other had completely lost whatever desire we’d garnered from our 20 seconds of foreplay.
Until—one night, when he was not quite two years old—he slept through his internal alarm, and I actually had time to perform my “wifely duties” with my husband. Drunk with power (I guess), I whispered lovingly to him that he didn’t have time to fool with the condom, and I wasn’t ovulating anyway, so why bother? “Are you sure?” is what he should have said. “No,” is what I should have said. But there was no time for condoms, and there was no time for talking.
Nine months later, Violet was born. Project Prevent Siblings failed.*
We didn’t realize how easy we had it with only one Sex Destroyer in the house until we had Violet. She and her brother have teamed up in a new and improved Project Prevent Any More Siblings Without Fail This Time. Violet picks up the slack that Noah leaves and looks at him with disgust. “You call this preventing siblings?” she scoffs. “Allow me to show you how it’s done. Feel free to take notes.”
A typical, non-sexual night in our home looks like this: Lance and I read to our kids, put them to bed, get them water, put them back to bed, then clean the kitchen/set the coffee pot timer/lock the doors/watch TV/drink wine/read/go to sleep. We don’t hear from the kids until morning (if we’re lucky), but at the earliest it’s 2 or 3 in the morning before they come wandering into our bedroom. However, when the pheromones start coursing through the house, it’s another scene altogether.
Our foreplay these days consists of one of the following: 1) A raised eyebrow and an admission that one or both parties “need to take a shower.” Bonus points for a wink and/or smirk. 2) A sentence that begins with “Sooooooo……” 3) A raised concern that “it’s been awhile since we…you know…like…yikes, how long has it BEEN?!” If any of these scenes are to progress, we know we have a very small window. Our mere thought of sex has caused a disturbance in her slumber, and Violet will be awake in half an hour or less.
Last week, as we lay in bed JUST TALKING, I SWEAR, we heard the door to her room open, and out she stomped…into our room. She climbed over me like I was nothing more than a lumpy obstacle and then elbowed herself in, inching us apart until she was wedged between us, where she promptly started snoring. I am not convinced she was ever actually fully awake.
Now, let’s say, for the sake of this example, that Lance and I were making out when our darling toddler came stumbling into our bedroom. And let’s pretend that we put her back in bed, and we somehow rekindled the flame that was promptly doused by the current of icy water she brought with her (which in reality would be impossible to rekindle, but suspend your disbelief for a moment). IF she actually stayed asleep and in her own bed for at least the next hour, the problem is that our four year old would STILL wake up within that hour with a bad dream or a need for water or because he needed to tell me that when we wake up tomorrow we should go to the store to buy some carabiners, ropes, a harness, and some climbing shoes so that he can climb on fences (that’s a true story). Our kids regularly enter a never-ending cycle of waking up and ruining our mojo.
Now, I’ve read enough Huffington Post articles to know that someday I’ll miss these precious night wanderings when my kids are grown and gone blah blah blah, but right now Mama needs some lovin’, y’all! So what’s a carnal couple with younglings to do when the mood strikes? If your dear toddlers have left your sex stores as depleted as ours, these tips are for you. (You’re welcome.)
1. Don’t wait. In my experience, kids seem to sleep hardest within the first hour of going down, so as soon as they are tucked in bed, hit the sheets. Don’t watch a show, don’t play a game, don’t eat dessert, don’t chit-chat about your day. There’ll be time for that kind of frivolity after you’ve done the deed.
2. Spread the foreplay out throughout the day. If you need foreplay at all (as sleep- and sex-deprived as you are), think about sex all day so you have more time for the actual act in those few crucial moments. Send each other a dirty text (in our case this could be anything that doesn’t mention the kids’ poop or what to pick up for dinner on the way home), change out of the avocado-smeared t-shirt and holey yoga pants at some point before bedtime, shave your pits, do the suggestive eyebrow-raising thing as soon as you see each other, etc.
3. Don’t be afraid to be direct. Gone are the days when leisurely flirting equalled getting it on at some point in the near future. The NEW sexy? Telling him you need it. Now. NO. Put down your iPhone, and leave the dishes in the sink. I SAID NOW.
4. Schedule time for sex. It sounds like a drag, but it really works. If your kids are total pains about going to bed so it’s late when you finally have time to yourselves and your brains are mush, you’re more likely to rally if you have a date for sex already set in place. (Extra sexiness points if you send each other a calendar invite. That’s like numbers 2-4 combined!)
5. Do NOT remind each other how lame your sex lives have become. For some reason this seems to be a total buzz-kill for my husband.
6. ALWAYS lock the door. Even if you are following tip #1, there is a chance you may have miscalculated the amount of time it took you to brush your teeth and get naked. I may or may not be speaking from experience here, y’all: there are just some things you do not want to have to explain yet.
7. Don’t risk it. Unless you’re ready to make having sex that much harder by adding another Sex Destroyer to your family, make the extra effort to protect yourself. Think you don’t have time to fool with the condom? Think about how much time another newborn will take away from your game. (Hint: A LOT.)
8. Take it easy. There will be plenty of nights when there’s just no recovering the romance. Hey, it happens to all of us! Just try again tomorrow. Don’t be like me and start thinking your marriage will never include sex again. Laugh, don’t cry. After all, someday it’ll be funny, right? RIGHT?
I’m sure there are other (supposedly more helpful) tips if you do a google search on “keeping the romance alive” while living under the same roof as small children, probably some baloney about getting away together for a weekend or hiring a babysitter and having a nice dinner together, but come on. Who has energy and time for THAT when just squeezing in a quickie is super challenging?
Now, who’s ready for bedtime?
Share your own successes (and please share your failures…we could all use a laugh) in the comments!
*Of course, we were thrilled to be pregnant, and we are overjoyed to have Violet. When she was about three months old, I giddily asked Lance, “aren’t you glad we didn’t wear a condom that day?” He smiled. “Yeah.” Then he groaned. “But let’s never do it again.”