First of all, I do understand that this lady’s post was somewhat tongue in cheek and exaggerated for the comedy value, but these kind of posts kind of disturb me. And I have nothing against her personally, it’s just her post has gone viral and is being talked about a lot right now.
But.. is it literally “just me” or is this what most people’s lives become like after they’ve had kids? Or been married for more than 5 minutes? Why is it almost always implied that it’s inevitable that you either lose interest in each other or have no time for each other after you add young people to your family? A recent group conversation that Daniel and I were a part of, someone made a comment about how “[they’ve] only been married for a month and aren’t having sex anymore, so there’s no way that you can be still!” (Because we have been together for 17 years.) And then there are comments on this lady’s post to the effect of “omg you’re going to emotionally scar your children by having sex while they are awake/in the house you suck at parenting and marriage.”
I thought part of being a good parent was to demonstrate a happy and healthy relationship for your children? But why does that mean having to have a super-quickie in 3.5 minutes (and that implies one person got much more enjoyment out of the activity than the other) so that they don’t know what you’re doing? I know you’re not going to leave a baby crying while you get busy, but if your kid is more than like, two, then they’re old enough to understand that they don’t always get what they want immediately and that parents have needs too, which – shockingly – might not involve them.
I really am curious about this. Though my children might like to pretend that Daniel and I do not ever do anything but lay together in our bed reading our iPads and being completely boring, I know that they know that is not actually reality. (And we readily admit to finding great amusement in jokingly reminding them occasionally that such activities do occur. It’s like feeding your toddler lemon.. you know you probably shouldn’t, but it’s just so easy and their reaction so hilarious that you really can’t help yourself.) I don’t understand why they think it is disgusting for us to have sex/make love/fuck (whatever term floats your boat). I don’t recall thinking that way when I was younger. I’m not talking about considering the ‘in-and-out’ (soz), logisitcal, nitty-gritty details of what we do, because yeah – thinking about anyone else’s sex life apart from your own in that kind of detail is kind of weird. But they’ve picked up the idea from somewhere (certainly not here) that the very concept of there being a physical aspect to our relationship is gross. Even kissing (and not even fully gung-ho kissing, either) each other in their presence is enough to elicit complaints. But I just don’t know why. It could just be yet another example of how I was not a typical child but I always understood that kissing, hugging, touching, making love were all pleasant ways for adults who love each other to share affection and I don’t remember ever thinking that was disgusting. (Now that I am an adult I also understand that some people like to do these things with people they don’t necessarily love, and while I don’t personally relate, neither do I particularly care as long as everyone is informed and consenting.)
But back to the whole “parent sex” thing, where you’re just about acting like fugitives to hide from your children to get a few minutes together when it’s been “almost a month.” Is this really real? Like do normal everyday reasonably young and healthy couples really go that long without fucking? It’s like that whole “six week rule” after you have a baby. No one actually does that and waits for permission from someone not attached to your genitals before starting to use them again, do they? For most people, does becoming a parent really mean that other people get to set the rules for your sex life?
Before I had children I kind of thought that essentially I knew what to expect in terms of how they would interact with me. Drawing on my own past experience of being a child. And I made that mistake of assuming that my experience was the normal experience, that my children would behave much as I did, and it would all be lovely. I hindsight, I don’t know why I had this expectation. It is not like I was ever unaware that I was an odd child, different to most of the others. But maybe it’s because you are a different person when you are at home than you are elsewhere. While it was clear that I was strange compared to the other kids at school, there was not really anything to indicate that at home, everyone else was not just as agreeable and unobtrusive as I was.
My children disagree with me all the time. They tell me so. They tell me exactly what they think of my choices, decisions and opinions and do not hold back in making me understand how very wrong I am. They ask the same question over and over and over in the hope that I might give a different answer this time. If I didn’t like what my mum said regarding any particular topic I would have probably just pouted and went to sulk with my face in a book. Or three.
I wasn’t a perfect child but I never had to be nagged about doing my homework or brushing my teeth. I do recall some discussion about my tooth brushing technique which involved little pink tablets that highlighted all the bits you hadn’t done properly. Other than a few isolated things I was never really naughty. I think the main problem was that my bedroom wasn’t as tidy as my mum would have liked. And I got told to tidy it up and that I wasn’t allowed to read until it was done. So I did it. Sometimes it did take me a while (because I got distracted by stuff as I was tidying it up.) My children.. bitch and moan and whine like you have asked them to remove a limb. And then bitch and moan and whine some more when whatever consequence they were warned about comes to pass.
If I was told to do something then generally I would do it. Not always cheerily and efficiently, but I did do it. We have to ask, tell, order and threaten time and time again when we want someone to do something. I pretty much did as I was told and asked because I did not want to make people annoyed, angry or upset. The same desire to avoid causing conflict seems to be quite absent in my children.
I started this while I was waiting to pick them up from school. Now I am sitting ‘watching’ while they play in the pool. That’s not different. I liked to go in the pool after school too.
The other day Stephanie asked me if I could buy some fish fingers.
“Yes, I suppose I could,” I told her. “But you will have to wait until the custard is all gone.”
“Ugh! That’s not fair!”
When I was a kid, other kids asked me what it was like not having a dad. On occasion I felt the need to point out that I did have one, and death doesn’t equal not having existed at all. But most of the time I just pointed out that with so few memories of him, it was just normal to me for him not to be there. What is it like having one who is there all the time? They think that’s a silly question, because that’s just how things are. You don’t ask people “what is it like breathing?” And for both myself and the other person, the state of having or not having was a normal one and so not something you felt the need to stretch to describe.
For the most part it was not something that bothered me. With so few memories of what it was like before, when he was there, it was hard to put together a comparison in my head of then versus now and decide which one was preferred. Of course I would have liked it if I didn’t have a dead parent, but being so young when he died it was hard, as a child, to see how before and after were different, apart from the obvious.
When we got married my grandfather gave me away. That was fine, it was not any big heartache to me that my father was not there to do it. Perhaps because it was not something I had ever looked forward to or imagined happening one day. Five year olds are not generally fantasizing about their one-day wedding. So probably I always knew that if/when I got married, it would be my grandfather giving me away.
Neil tried to teach me to drive. That.. went. The first car he tried to teach me in was his car, a somewhat temperamental manual that you kind of had to have an intimacy with in order to work it. I couldn’t even start it. And that clutch business, jesus H. I don’t know if it was the way that Neil tried to explain it or if it was because of the way the car was, but I didn’t fully understand the way a clutch worked until I was in England and watched Daniel driving.. and wondered why he wasn’t doing it the way I had understood Neil to have instructed. Later after we came back from England he tried to teach me in Herta (auto) and that wasn’t going too terribly, I think, until the day he was directing me into the carport at his and my mum’s house. One of their cars was already in there, but it’s quite long so you can fit two in. He stood behind the other one and kept beckoning me forward. “Keep going, keep going.” So I kept going and he ended up temporarily pinned between the two cars. I believe that traumatised me much more than him and I don’t think there were many more lessons after that.
Neither of those experiences really made me feel any more bothered than I ever had been about his absence, though I do think that as an adult I understood more the types of things I had missed. But it wasn’t just adulthood that really made me feel his absence – it was motherhood. Watching my daughter and then daughters interact with their father and their grandfathers. And then, strangely, even more so as the mother of a son – seeing how his relationships with his sisters, parents and grandparents develop. There is something very special about watching the relationship your children have with your parent/s. To see the way each of them loves my mum and how she loves them – it’s a relationship that is independent of me and would carry on without me, but could not have existed without me. So it’s a wonderful feeling of appreciating the beauty of grandparent-grandchild love and knowing that I had a big part in that being able to happen. It’s not the same with Daniel’s parents, as I think that probably most people don’t feel exactly the same thing for their spouse’s parents as their own, and also with them being in England their relationships with the children must unavoidably develop differently. And it’s not the same with Neil, either. While I don’t doubt that he loves each of the kids and they all love him; I feel reasonably sure that he is not at all like the kind of grandfather that my dad would have been. So that makes me feel an empty spot, the sadness over what my children will miss because he is not here and the sadness that I don’t get to watch that and take away the warm fuzzy feeling for myself.
Strangely, I think also that as I am with Daniel for longer and longer, that also contributes to the feeling of loss. Because now I see and every day, household example of an adult male and how they “work” on a broad level. And sometimes when I am excited or sad or humoured or depressed, I want Daniel to either share it or heal it. And sometimes I want my mother. And sometimes I want my father.
Jet Pens, the kind folks who gave me the Hi-Tec-C Coleto to review, are running a Christmas promotion to give away pens to children in Africa. For every person who joins their Facebook group until December 15th, they will send a pen to a child in Africa.
So join their group, because it doesn’t cost you anything and it’ll give kids a chance to expand both their artistic and intellectual creativity – think of all the things you can do with a pen! And while you’re there you might as well look at all the cool pens and pencils and other things in their shop too :)