Ever since I could remember, I wanted to be a Mom. Yes, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to have a career, and I wanted to marry a handsome, loving man. And while I've done all of those things, my maternal instinct has always been a significant component of my personality. I suppose this stems from the fact that I am the second eldest sibling in a large family. From an early age, I helped raise my younger brothers and sisters. Given the size of my family, it was just expected.
Today is our daughter's second birthday. Raising a child is probably not easy for most people, and our experience is no different, but the time has gone by faster than either Jack or I could have anticipated. While there are difficult times, there are times when it's much easier, and more importantly there are times when it becomes clear that all of our efforts and sacrifices are worth it.
What sacrifices, you might ask? How about sleep? In the past two years, neither of us have gotten anywhere near as much sleep as we would have liked. Babies, and for that matter young children, don't conform to a set sleep schedule. They wake up in the middle of the night and want milk. They have nightmares. They'd rather play with their toys, read a book, or just see Mommy and Daddy than sleep.
Jack says that he's sacrificing his sanity in order to be a father. But I know it's an exaggeration. Our daughter keeps him young, and provides him much-needed levity. He loves experiencing the world through her wide eyes, and appreciates her curiosity and enthusiasm for things we as adults take for granted. The trade-off, of course, is that he no longer has the autonomy that he values so highly. It is this autonomy that led him to start his own business. While he has had to give up some of his freedom, he understands that being a stay-at-home Dad is a privilege not all parents are afforded.
One thing we are determined not to sacrifice, however, is our sex life. In the beginning of our relationship, Jack and I made it clear just how important sex was to us. We have always been honest with each other, especially where sex is concerned, and we have always enjoyed a varied and adventurous sex life. Though we spent a huge chunk of our relationship living hours apart, sex was always an extremely high priority, and we made certain not to neglect our own physical needs or those of each other.
Some of our friends and family members made it clear that when we got married we should expect the sex to stop, or at least slow down. Their rationale, I guess, was that once you're married there are many other, more important things to deal with and sex falls by the wayside. But when we got married, we didn't slow down at all. I wouldn't necessarily say that we sped up or anything. We just maintained the same comfortable and very satisfying pace we enjoyed before we were married.
Those same friends and family members also warned us that once we became parents, the sex would probably stop altogether. This seemed like a more realistic concern than their previous one. After all, there were no real life-changing responsibilities that resulted from our getting married. Life was pretty much the same as it had been when we were engaged. But once we had a baby, we knew our lives would be forever changed. We would suddenly have a new human being living in our home, one who was tiny, defenseless, and completely dependent on Jack and I for everything.
We knew that having a baby would take a tremendous toll. In addition to being physically incapable of sex immediately afterwards, I knew that some nights we might not be able to muster the necessary energy. Not only would there be a physical cost, but emotional and psychological ones as well. I considered that I might not be in the mood for sex sometimes. I wondered if Jack would find me unattractive. I wondered if his feelings for me would change in an emotional capacity as well.
Something wonderful happened to my libido when I was in my second trimester. It shot off like a rocket into space, and it hasn't come down since. From that point on, and I don't just mean until the baby was born but until right this minute, I've wanted sex pretty much constantly. That is not to say that I didn't want it before, but I certainly didn't want it this much. And believe me, I wanted it a lot.
After the baby was born, we had to abstain from penetrative sex for six weeks. It wasn't easy limiting ourselves to oral sex, but we managed, and as soon as the prohibition was lifted we resumed with a vengeance. It's easy to see why. Even beyond the strong sexual connection we've always shared, there was a need, on my part especially, to prove wrong everyone who implied that having a baby was a death sentence for our sex life.
If you've ready any of our Sunday Scoreboard posts, you know that we have so far succeeded in doing this. Whenever we have the opportunity, we make a point of dropping what we're doing and being intimate together. We remove ourselves from the day-to-day trappings of parenthood and clear our minds of anything that reminds us of our child. This usually involves not having sex in any room where she's been playing, as a pile of toys, coloring books, and stuffed animals isn't always conducive to a sexy mindset.
We do our best to take advantage of every single nap our daughter takes. In fact, Jack tries to put her down for a nap shortly before I get home from work, thereby enabling us to have sex as soon as I walk in the door. It doesn't always work out that way, of course, but when it does it's well worth it, especially as there's no guarantee that we will be able to indulge after the baby is asleep for the night. When she doesn't nap, we've gone so far as to put her in her playpen with a few books, or even a cartoon on the television, and done what we needed to do.
Basically, we are doing anything and everything we can to avoid the fate that apparently befell so many of the other parents we know. By keeping our sex life in high gear now, we know that if there ever comes a point when we are unable to maintain this very active pace, we won't look back on this time when we had the opportunity and squandered it.
Even though I've always wanted to be a mother, I am determined never to lose sight of the fact that I am also a wife. I love my daughter. She's beautiful, intelligent, and full of love. She adds so much dimension to every single day of our lives. But she isn't the only reason for my existence, or for Jack's. Without the physical and emotional fulfillment we get from a fully-functional sex life, we wouldn't be the good parents that we are.