I love sleeping without my children.
Diana Landen: I love snuggling up to my husband and talking about my sexual fantasies. I love having him climb into bed and stop to pin me beneath him. I love waking up and reaching out to grab him for a few moments of early morning fondling. I love having our own bed, a space for sex and sexuality.
I know many parents are able to share their beds with their children and still have active sex lives. Apparently the parents sneak off and have sex on an empty bed or floor. We never managed to do that. Sex on the floor is good for variety, but it's not really comfortable. And who has the energy to move out of bed once they become parents? We didn't need variety in our sex lives, we needed sex in our sex lives.
Nevertheless, I spent many years of my life with infants and small children in my bedroom. We had cribs beside the bed, toddlers lying in between us, and preschoolers who started the night in their own beds and joined us later on. What we didn't have was sex.
My friend Selene has a theory of maternal orgasm: the further the children's bedrooms are from yours, the better your orgasms. I ignored her words of wisdom. Somehow we adjusted and survived a sparse sex life. It wasn't until after my youngest was finally sleeping all night in her own bed that I realized what we had been missing.
Sexual desire is not something you can just turn on when opportunity knocks. Once you have children, opportunity usually knocks when you're exhausted and need sleep. More importantly, I need time to build up my desire. Time to snuggle with my husband and tease each other, time to daydream by myself. Part of an active sex life is the foreplay that goes on for days ahead of time.
It wasn't just about time and logistics, though. For me to even feel comfortable thinking about sex, I need a sense of distance from my children. Once our bed became our own again, Sleeping Mama woke up. The next thing I knew, I was shopping at adult toy stores and hunting my G-spot with my husband. Now we both grin goofily and indulge each other's faults all day long.
I could never go back to the life I had before when half of my self was shut away in a drawer somewhere. But I'm not sure I could have done things completely differently either.
There are good reasons our children were in our bedroom. Babies need to eat at night to grow and thrive, and many children continue to wake up at night for years. Sleeping with your little ones is easier. You don't have to wake up and walk to another room to feed them. You don't have to go to their bedroom and help them fall back asleep. In fact, preschoolers may have fewer nightmares in the first place.
And yet I could not do it over again. There were good reasons my children were in my bedroom, good reasons for them and good reasons for me -- but not good enough now that I remember what I was missing.
My advice for a young woman about to be a mother? Don't drift into forgetting what it's like to be free and sexual, like I did. If you find you're still not having much sex after the first six months, consider making some changes. Get more sleep, plan time alone with your husband, set up a place for sex in the living room. And if you have to, try moving your little ones out of your bedroom as soon as they are old enough.
I wish I'd understood earlier that it's okay if you need to move your children out of your bedroom. We're adults, we need sex. In fact, we deserve it. Besides, sex makes us kinder, happier, less neurotic people. It builds and strengthens our love for each other. And in the end, a love affair with your husband is a good thing for everyone.