Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘joy’

There Goes Our Sex Life

imgresWhen your newborn is literally sucking the energy from you twenty-four hours a day, will the energy to make love with your partner ever return? How do you nurture your relationship, and find time for sex, when you have young children wanting and needing your attention 24 hours a day?

You may find yourself replying to these questions by exclaiming, “Never.” “It’s impossible.” “You’re kidding!” or “We’ve given up trying.” The reality is that you DO have to make adjustments, continually negotiate with your partner and practice the patience of saints, but you DON’T have to give up your sex life altogether.

From the moment your baby comes into the world your lives are changed forever. No matter how long you’ve been together before the birth or how much you’ve read about it, there is nothing that prepares you for the overwhelming responsibility, attention and energy that parenting requires. Rarely do couples talk about how having a baby will effect their sexual lives, yet it can be one of the most difficult aspects of becoming a mother or father.

After having time to lavish each other with affection for months or years, before giving birth or adopting a child, you are unceremoniously thrust into EVERYTHING being structured around the baby. In terms of upsetting the apple cart of domestic tranquility, newborns are the most powerful force on the planet. When you sleep, eat, work and make love is predicated and influenced by the newest member of the family. It is utterly amazing how such a little bundle of flesh and bones can have so much control on our full-grown adult lives.

New fathers are particularly vulnerable during this change in life and often come down with the “whoa is me” syndrome. Not only does the baby literally come “between” the mother and father, the baby takes ALL of her attention. The physical bond between mother and child is very powerful. It can be difficult for father’s to accept this reality, even if they thought about it ahead of time. And if, like many men, a father associates sex with love, he may begin to fear that he isn’t loved anymore. This is especially true when the babies mother doesn’t have as much time, energy or desire to make love as often or as long as she used to. In the beginning months she may not want to at all.

Most women do not love their partners any less after the birth of a child; they simply do not have the time, energy and stamina to sexually express their love the same as they did before. Without denying the physical attraction that is part of the relationship dance, most healthy unions consist of more ingredients than just sex. This is where men (and women) can allow patience and understanding to take root, instead of frustration and anger and appreciate the many ways we can communicate our feelings for one another.

Give each other long hugs and kisses. Massage her/his back, neck, hands, arms, legs, feet and/or face. Cook and serve a special meal. Talk to each other and take the time to be present and listen. Don’t assume you each know what the other is thinking or feeling.

If you simply want sex, then find time alone to pleasure yourself. There is nothing wrong with some self-loving and care. Don’t expect your partner to supply all your needs or fulfill all your desires.

Usually, as a child develops, stops nursing and needs less physical attention, a woman’s libido also returns. If you’re the mother’s partner, let her be in the driver’s seat. She’ll let you know when she’s ready. Absence of sex doesn’t mean she loves or desires you any less, it is simply a physical and emotional reality that can arise from having a baby.

As your child grows physically and cognitively, steps into the toddler stage and enters their first years in school, an array of options for intimacy with your sweetheart will be presented. If your child is sleeping in your bed, once they have fallen asleep you can take a mat and go to another room for some mutual pleasure. Make sure to be aware of and adjust the sounds you allow yourselves to make, depending on how deeply your child sleeps.

Another wonderful opportunity is to develop a community of other parents with similar aged children and exchange childcare two to three mornings or afternoons a week. This is not only emotionally beneficial in sharing the experience of parenting, but also allows you to arrange your time, whenever possible, for you and your mate to get together and have a romantic morning or afternoon. If you have other family and/or friends who offer to provide childcare, don’t pass it up, always say, “Thank you. Yes. When and where?”

You can also carry on your romance without having to physically touch each other. Write a love letter, send a card, a gift or some flowers with a note. Stop by your partner’s place of work. If you’re son or daughter is with you, bring them along. You don’t have to stay long. Just stop by, let them know you were thinking about them and can’t wait to see them when they get home. If you’re the person working, take a break on your lunch hour, go home and give everyone hugs and kisses. If you work to far away to drive by give them a call. Let them know that even in the midst of your busy day, you are thinking of them.

As your child or children, move on into their adolescence, teens and early twenties, they become more aware of themselves and of their parent’s sexuality. It isn’t as easy to sneak off into the bedroom or bath while the kids are watching their favorite show or playing a video game. Nor can you linger in bed on a weekend morning, without them figuring out what’s going on. Make sure to have sound proof doors to your bedroom and teach your kids about privacy and knocking before entering a room with the door closed. They will want to have the same respect for their privacy as they age.

Once your child begins attending school there are more chances to rendezvous in a variety of locations. If you can’t make it home, call and talk sex on the phone.

At this age it is much easier to have them stay overnight at a friend or relatives, thus giving you the entire night to indulge in your fantasies or just go out to dinner, dance, a play, movie, etc. You may be able to swing a night at a bed and breakfast or go for a long ride in the country and make love outdoors. The possibilities are almost endless.

One’s relationship will change with or without children. Don’t let being a parent put a total stop to your sex life. You can experience the ecstasy and the agony of having children and the joy and pleasure of a satisfying love life. One does not preclude the other. It depends on your expectations, your ability to adapt and change and to love one another exactly where you are. Learn to love without trying to manipulate, control or coerce the other into some memory you have of how you think things were “before children” or having them match an imaginary image of “perfect sex”.

If you look, listen, feel and pause long enough to see what you have in your relationship and not what is temporarily missing, you may come to appreciate and value your partner in an entirely new light. Yes, having a child will change your relationship and your lives forever, but it doesn’t have to stop you from growing, sharing and loving one another in the most intimate and loving ways.

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The Dead Aren’t Dead

imagesAn excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

Death always seems to come to soon or when we don’t expect it. No matter how long someone has lived or how they’ve died, it is impossible to fully prepare for the moment and the days that follow.

Our relationships don’t end with death; they change. We are always connected. Death changes the way in which we can communicate, but our feelings, thoughts, memories and experiences live on.

We can say goodbye to a loved one, as we knew them, but we don’t have to say goodbye forever. We can choose to say “hello” to them, as the days pass, how we want them to be. We can stay connected to the love and potential that existed, or was possible, when they lived and let go of the rest.

Grieve it all. Don’t leave out anything; the good, the bad, the confusion, pain, joy and compassion. Then, as time goes on, decide what you want to hold on to and what you don’t need any more. What parts of the relationship do you still cherish? How do you want to stay connected? Let them go and hold them close.

Further reading and support at: Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter.

Darcy’s Pineapple Delight

Darcy’s Pineapple Delight
by Gabriel Constans

As our daughter, Darcy, exclaims, “This breakfast drink is sweet, sweet, sweet. It fills my mouth with joy!” Pineapples are high in vitamin C and rich in potassium and calcium.

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Yield: 4 cups

2 cups soy, rice or almond milk
2 medium bananas
6 slices pineapple
4 tablespoons protein powder
1 tablespoon honey, agave or brown rice syrup

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium for 30 seconds.

Pour into cup or glass and let it fill your mouth with sweet sweet joy.

She-Rain

She-Rain: A Story of Hope by Michael Cogdill (Morgan James Publishing, 2010)

Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

She-Rain is like a gem that’s been pulled out of a pigsty. It contains some of the most eloquent prose and language since Shakespeare. Some will see elements of Pat Conroy’s writing that takes place in the Carolinas and Rick Bragg’s memoir of growing up in Alabama, though Mr. Cogdill’s character’s are more inclined to speak with a natural rhythm and cadence, which invites readers to be privileged to Frankie Locke’s heart and mind, as he grows up with his abusive addicted father and eventually finds solace, understanding and new ways to live from Mary Lizabeth and Sophia, who become his loves, friends and guardian angels.

There is no need to keep all of the author’s words wrapped tightly in secret between the book’s pages, though there are many secrets that come to light as the story unfolds. Here are a few lines that catch your breath and lavish you with voice, metaphor and nuance.

“Creases of his face flowed with streams of it like slug trail, easing off his chin.”

“In the throes of a drunk, or even the craving of one, his manners seldom rose above a steers’.”

“In the squeal of mosquitoes and flies drawn to sweat, I took in one final look at the vista from Granny’s pocket.”

“The day came so cold the air felt breakable.”

When Mary asks Frankie to dance, she says, “My dearest Mr. Locke, reckon I can borrow your frame for this struggle?”

Concerning feelings of shame for past deeds, Sophia tells Frankie, “I don’t see a solitary cause for disgrace. What shames you, from now on, will be up to you.”

The subtitle of She-Rain is A Story of Hope. It is really a story of redemption and courage to step into the unknown and break expectations and taboos. It is also about grief and loss and what we do with its tailings. The people involved in She-Rain seem so honest and real; they are almost palpable. In the acknowledgments section, the author states that some of the characters in the book are based on people he has known, loved and appreciated throughout his life. It would not be surprising to learn one day that the entire story and the incidents and experiences portrayed, were all based on actual events that took place in real time.

As you get to know Frankie, Mary Lizabeth, Sophia and their families and circumstances, you take a liking to them and find your self hoping, against all odds, for the best. Thus, are the abilities of Mr. Cogdill to shine a light on humanities worst and best traits with words so delicious you’ll want to have them for every meal. The last portion of the book found this reader sitting on their old torn up coach, cat underhand, with tears of sadness and joy streaming down his cheeks like a babe who’d been lost for dead in the woods and just been returned to loving arms.

Baby Wreaks Havoc

Having a newborn wreaks havoc on two aspects of daily life I used to take for granted sex and sleep. I would give my life savings for one night of either after our son was born.

The reality of a baby taking control of our lives around the clock had crossed my mind but never stopped to linger until the first week of shock had passed with our new son, Shona.

Sleep deprivation is a killer. Night after night, every two to three hours, the call of the wild shrieks from the crib, “Whaaaaaa.”

“No. It can’t be!” I exclaim. “Not again! We just fell asleep! I can hardly move.”

As I roll out of bed, hit my knee on the desk and grope my way through the dark, I remind myself that I wanted this experience. I asked for it and there’s no turning back.

How could anyone in their right mind choose this nightly torture? Nobody put a gun to my head, promised me riches or threatened to blow up my house. This had surely been a conscious decision, although it must have been made while I was in a coma or under general anesthetic!

As I turn the corner to enter the baby’s room, I slam my nose into the door I thought was open. I swear loudly.

“Whaaaaaa.”

“Hold on, I’m coming,” I groan.

Entering the room I quickly turn on the soft light and see my son’s arms flailing in the air as his tiny little mouth roars his need for attention like a ferocious lion. He grabs my finger with his waving hand and tries to suck on it. While picking him up I realize how small and fragile his body is and recall that his screaming is the only thing he can do to ask for help.

Cradling this sweet precious babe silently in my arms while he stares blissfully into my eyes soon releases any anger or frustration I was previously feeling. I whisper to myself, “How could I ever doubt the desire to create this amazing miracle?!”

After a diaper change and 30 minutes of rocking, I lay him back down to sleep with the hope that he’ll be knocked out for at least 48 hours. Why not dream for a miracle? I never get enough sleep anymore to really dream anyway.

By the time I’ve navigated my way back to bed I’m fully awake. Looking over at the clock I discover it’s 3 a.m., only about three hours before I need to get up for work. I glance over at my beautiful wife, Audrey, who is breathing loudly in the land of Nod. As I turn off the light and stare into the darkness, I begin to wonder if this madness will ever end.

Three months go by and nothing has changed. Not only is sleep a vague memory, but sex seems to have also disappeared down a long dark tunnel.

It’s 10 p.m. and Shona has finally fallen asleep. Audrey slowly undresses, slips into bed and beckons me with an alluring glance of desire and warmth. As we begin to lovingly caress one another, a slow fog of fatigue fills our bodies and without so much as a sigh we’re both gone, not from ecstasy, but exhaustion. The next sound we hear is not the anticipated joy of climax but a loud cry waking us from our unintended sleep.

Eight days pass. (Yes, I counted). It’s Saturday. Shona has gone to bed. We both took a nap earlier in the day and are anxious to co-mingle our bodies with pleasure. We finally feel that we have some energy for one another and are determined to not let anything come between us. That was the plan.

We begin one passionate kiss after another when I suddenly sense that Audrey’s mind has drifted away. I take a deep breath and apprehensively ask her what she’s thinking about. She nervously says, “Do you think he’s OK? He hasn’t cried in a long time.”

“Yes, I’m sure he’s just fine,” I reply and begin kissing her passionately with greater urgency. Again she stops and says, “I’m going to go check on him real quick. I’ll be right back.” While she’s gone to the other room I feel myself beginning to implode with frustration and resentment. “What about me? What about my needs?” I begin to feel sad and sorry for myself. She jumps back into bed and reassures me that our child is just fine and he’s, “soooooo cute.”

Time goes by and Audrey is surrounding my body when she suddenly exclaims, “Stop. That hurts!” We both look at each other in amazement. We didn’t expect this. Her muscles haven’t recovered from the trauma of birth and it’s too uncomfortable to continue. She’s just as disappointed as I am and we console one another with hugs and kisses.

Weeks go by. We attempt a variety of sexual activities but nothing seems to ease the pain except time. Finally, after three months of no sleep or sexual connection, a miracle happens!

It’s a Thursday night. A night I’ll never forget. For some reason known only to the baby gods, Shona goes to sleep at 8 p.m. and sleeps until 8 a.m. the following morning! Audrey’s body is fully recovered and we gently make love for the first time without any discomfort or pain.

What a thrill. It almost feels like The First Time all over again. My faith in life slowly returns from months of male postpartum depression. There is hope after all. It is possible to give birth, have a child and time for yourself and your partner. Patience, understanding and commitment to making it work eventually pans out.

Like the song from the movie Casablanca says, “You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental rules apply . . . as time goes by.”

So, when your tiny tot is screaming, you’re not sure if you’re awake or asleep and you think your partner has taken vows of celibacy, stop and remind yourself that this too shall pass. As sure as the sun comes up in the morning your baby will one day sleep through the night and the precious intimacy and joy of sex will flow again.

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