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When it comes to striking at the heart of motherhood after 40, I think I’ve just Babe-Ruthed it out of the ballpark.
I’ve discovered my own version of what Emeril Legasse refers to as “the essence”, along with the title of the book I’m now going to write.
Sex, Diapers and Menopause: Surviving motherhood after 40.
Why? Because it’s safe to say that changing diapers, menopause and sex are usually not subjects linked together in one sentence—at least, not one that makes any sense.
But we over-40 moms are now famous for shaking up the historical paradigms of maternity like the quaint, outdated, lilttle snow globes they’ve become.
And this morning’s wake-up call was a perfect example.
Frank usually has his alarm clock set to his favorite radio station, KPIG (http://www NULL.kpig NULL.com/), broadcasting out of Freedom, California.
At exactly 5.30am, I found myself reaching out blindly to slap down the “Snooze” button to silence the undulating drone of background music, only to realize the culprit clock was not mine.
And on the other side of the bed, Frank was laughing—or more like croaking, since his throat was still encrusted with the dry scales of sleep and his eyes had yet to open.
But then the words to the song filled the darkness of the predawn and my throat opened with an unwilling, painful squawk that would have been, at any other time, called a giggle.
It was all down to the country twang of Sara Hickman that cried out plaintively across our bed: “Are We Ever Going To Have Sex Again? (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=I1ENLCk_i0o)”
Soon enough, Frank and I were holding hands across the bed, hanging on every word, and laughing uproariously—but not without an edge of cynicism.
We knew exactly what Sara was wailing about.
It all started with an argument when Lizzie was about 2 years old and still in diapers and Alex was 5, constantly trailing after us through every room in the house, badgering us with questions from his infinite treasure chest of burgeoning curiosity.
I was 47-years-old and I felt I never got a moment’s peace.
My moods were swinging like Tarzan from tree to tree in my midlife forest of fluctuating hormones and I was feeling about as attractive as Ethel with her head trussed in a cleaning rag during an episode of I Love Lucy (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/I_Love_Lucy).
One morning Frank—all 6 ft and 5 inches of him wrapped in a brown, striped terry cloth bathrobe, topped by hair spiked in a fine rendition of what is now called “bed head”—stomped into the kitchen.
He scowled darkly down his nose from behind a pair professorial eyeglasses, singularly spoiling what was an otherwise radiant Sunday morning.
“I suppose that now all the child bearing is done and over with, I’ll never get any sex again,” he grumbled, as he slapped the “On” switch of the coffee machine.
One of the common characteristics of men that never fails to surprise and entertain me is their complete lack of timing and delivery on sensitive subjects.
I peered at the sloppy bathrobe, the bed-head and the beady eyes pulsing with annoyance like those of an evil cartoon professor with x-ray vision.
“Well, look at you, right off the cover of GQ Magazine. (http://www NULL.gq NULL.com/) How could I resist?” I snapped back at him.
“It wouldn’t matter what I do”, argued Frank, the filaments of self-pity creeping into his voice.“You’ll never sleep with me again anyway.”
“Our sex life is over“, he added, with a melodramatic sigh.
“Is this your latest version of verbal foreplay?” I retorted. “Because I can tell you now, no need to file for copyright on it.”
The effect his morning salutation had on my mood was the same as Roadrunner dropping an anvil on Wile E. Coyote’s head.
Cleaning baby poop, breast feeding, mopping up messes off the kitchen floor, facing middle age spread, while your perimenopausal hormones beat the crap out of you, hardly comprises a situational aphrodisiac cocktail.
But with all of their cutting edge precision insight into the female psyche, husbands and fathers somehow manage to swing wide of the mark there.
At the heart of the matter, however, lies a deeper truth. One I wrote about jokingly in Midlife Momtov Cocktail (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/#pages/momotov NULL.html).
As older mothers, we face the trials of mothers and grandmothers rolled into one punch, directly targeted at our libido.
“It’s not over, Frank,” I said, drawing on a feeling of compassion.
“You need to understand that I’m perimenopausal, my face is morphing into Walter Matthau’s, and if I see another poop-filled diaper this side of breakfast, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.”
“But that doesn’t mean you don’t still turn me on. Okay?, I offered reassuringly.
“You’re just saying that,” he replied, determined to hold his miserable mood. “Don’ t you remember the sex we used to have?”
“Yeah, I remember. But that was BC. Before Children. Now we have to put more work into it. Look, if you want to have sex on Saturday night, you’ve got to start being nice to me on Friday.”
Frank scowled at me again.
“Talk about someone who wants Inst-Grat!” I said, frustrated once more.
“What I get is more like No-Grat!” he accused.
I threw my hands in the air in utter exasperation.
“When are you going to stop seeing the world through Shit-colored glasses?”
Frank looked at me as if a coconut had struck the crown of his head. And then we both began to laugh.
What did we learn about sex in midlife motherhood?
Be compassionate, respectful and realistic. Most of all, start treating it just like everything else in your domestic or working life: schedule it in!
Notes for this blog:
Join me for the next blog for tips from our expert on sex, midlife motherhood, and marriage.
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