Me? This Valentine’s Day, I’m planning to ask for a better lock on my bedroom door.
To some, this might sound like a drastic, unromantic measure. But, for parents of toddlers, a lock on the master bedroom door is also darn near a romantic necessity – if they don’t want to experience the end of sex life as they know it, that is.
Why? Because toddlers – those tiny people who presumably (hopefully?!) don’t know what sex is — have sex radar. Yes, believe you me, it comes with the toddler package. All my husband has to do is cozy up to me – nothing else – and that’s a money-back guarantee that a toddler will dance right into our bedroom, or at least work herself into a tantrum trying.
Is it a Darwinian thing, like preservation of the toddler species? Are they afraid that, if they leave us alone to do our thing, they’ll have to put up with yet another sibling trying to steal their toys? Is it just an affection thing – mom and dad are hugging and kissing, so I want some hugs and kisses too? Or is it absolute aversion to the sound (muffled, surely, and unable to be heard a full floor away) of the tumblers in a lock clicking shut in a parental effort to get some privacy?
I’ve asked my mommy friends, all of whom have toddlers, whether they have the same problem, and I can’t even get out a full sentence of, “You know when you and Duane want to, um, you know . . .” “Omigosh, yeah! Little Matilda shows up out of nowhere!”
The other night, my husband and I tried an experiment. We put the kids to bed and waited a good hour. Then we each took a kid and checked. Yup. Down for the count.
Totally out of it. Snoring so you could hear it a state away. Then we tiptoed down the hall to our bedroom, eased the door shut, slid over to the bed, put our arms around each other, and .. .
“MOMMY! DADDY! I’m not sleepy! I had a bad dream! I need a sippy cup! MOMMY! Where are you? What are you doing???”
First hypothesis I’ve been able to prove since 10th-grade chemistry. Of course, now I’m dealing with a whole different type of chemistry.
Does having children have to signal the end of life as we know it – or sex life, at least? After all, even taking the trespassing toddlers out of the picture, we’re nothing like we were when we first met. Signaling our parental status to the world, our eyes sport dark circles nine days out of 10. My breasts now benefit not from pretty camisoles but from firm support; those 18-hour bra commercials make so much more sense now than they did 10 years ago. My husband gained 20 pounds with each of my pregnancies and now can best be described as portly. And neither of us has the – shall we say “energy”? – that we used to back in the good old days when a truly passionate night could predictably be followed by a leisurely morning (sleeping past sunrise, that is) eating bagels (without giving anyone else a bite) and reading the paper (rather than the same board book 19 times).
But something else has changed in the years since we’ve had children. We’ve lost the worries about body image that used to plague us – after all, we’ve been witness and party to each other’s pizza and ice cream and break-and-bake cookie binges. We’ve come to appreciate the stolen moments hugging alone in the bathroom, or kissing beside the kitchen sink after dinner, or holding hands in the front seat of the car when the kids have fallen asleep in the back after a long drive. Indeed, seeking out such moments adds a little spice and adventure. We’ve learned to cherish the mildly risqué innuendoes and the meaningful looks when the kids are looking the other way. We’ve become more comfortable with each other and each other’s bodies; he did see me give birth twice, you know – how much more familiar can you get than that?
True, luxurious two-hour sessions have turned into intense five-minute encounters; we’ve had to forget the fantasies of hanging from chandeliers; the kitchen table is too covered with Play-Doh to make a good assignation spot. But, despite the less-than-perfect forms, the difficulties in appropriating moments for adult time, even despite the ever-present toddlers, I can honestly say that my husband and I are even more intimate than we were in those glory days pre-kids. The illusions of privacy may be shattered, but the trials of parenthood have made us more of a team. Believe it or not, that translates to the bedroom, too. And when a toddler moseys in to interrupt us, as frustrating as it might initially seem (pun intended), we are usually able to see the humor in the situation.
This Valentine’s Day, though, I’m going to beat those toddlers at their own game. While sparkling diamonds they’re not, nice strong locks are plenty shiny enough – they even come in gold and silver, I hear – to satisfy me