Sex, Love and Applesauce explores the complexities of maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner while the majority of your focus and energy are being devoted to parenthood. So hold on to your matrimony and buckle those car seats.
I’m a visual person. I have super vivid dreams and often imagine odd little stories playing out in front of me complete with costumes and facial expressions and well-placed set details. One of the stories that’s been floating around in my brain lately is this image of mothers hovering just above the ground in little translucent pods, going about their days feeling alienated from their spouse, cut-off from their friends, focusing only on their children and forgetting altogether that they matter.
The women I’m thinking about are not depressed, but they are overwhelmed at times. They’re tired and forgetful. They are not purposely playing the victim but they are accidentally ignoring a very important fact: that the power to change their situation STILL lies within. They – okay, let’s just say it – WE (I’m for sure one of “them”) knew this at some point but lost that wisdom with the placenta.
We are educated, modern, youthful women who actually had a lot figured out before motherhood. We had put in the time to get to know ourselves, improve ourselves and yes, love who we were. Amazingly, it all got tossed into a blender once we gave birth and the opportunity to sort it out while parenting just doesn’t present itself. Certainly not in those first few years, anyway.
So time passes and we adjust to a new version of ourselves, with a new identity and a changed outlook but without the confidence, the regular sex life or the girls’ nights that helped balance out our former lives. Confidence gave us swagger, which helped foster an intimacy with our partner that was born out of our sex life, which we talked about with glee and curiosity amongst our friends at every girls’ night. We miss these things a lot.
Anyway, as I’m picturing all of us in our sad little isolation pods, all I can think is this: we need to talk. To each other, to our partners, to our parents, to anybody who has been where we stand now and made it through with their essence and happiness intact. Because, among many other benefits, talking about all of the change and imbalance in our lives helps us realize that we are not even remotely close to alone. Your partner may not be experiencing the same upheaval in his or her life, but I’d bet you a million dollars that you two are closer to the same page than you think you are. And your friends, well, if they haven’t already communicated some of the same “am I going crazy?” feelings that you’ve been having it’s most likely because they are scared. Not because they haven’t felt them.
I believe so deeply in the power of communication, to create a sense of community – be it among two or two hundred people – that I want to be your friend. Not the Facebook kind of friend or the “known each other since birth” kind, either, but the sounding board kind of friend. The friend who talks about things you didn’t think anyone wanted to talk about. The friend who tells you the truth when others feel compelled to fib. The friend who readily admits that her vagina has never looked the same since birthing her babies and that she, too, has occasional thoughts of running away from home for a week without telling anybody.
I realize that I’m walking a very thin line here between sincerity and all-out cheesiness. I apologize if I’ve crossed over into undesirable territory once or twice. It’s just that I get super mushy when I think about all of us in our little pods, feeling separate or isolated even from our own sense of self. It’s not right. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
So let’s talk about this shit. Let’s get it out there so that anybody who reads this column can be reminded that she is not the only one.