When parenting makes the bed turn cold
I remember my husband saying to me, a few heady weeks into our relationship, that he couldn’t imagine getting into bed with me and not touching me, or sitting next to me and not resting a hand on me. We were connected by touch the whole time we were together, either holding hands as we walked home,
or a hand rested on a knee, or in the small of a back.
Our relationship was, as many relationships are so early on, incredibly physical.
Fast-forward a few years, and whilst we still normally go to bed at the same time, we don’t fall asleep spooning each other, like two cuddling prawns. Nope, we lie on other sides of the bed. He has ear plugs in (we have a loud baby and I’m sleep training). I have a thick and greasy layer of face cream on (because winter is coming). An eye mask is an optional extra, and comes out if he insists on playing on his phone with that annoying blue light taking over the bedroom. So far, so not sexy. Let’s not even go into our nightwear, which involves flannel, cotton, and saggy elastic. And speaking of saggy, neither of us are the weight we were when we first got together. Built in pyjamas, in the form of an extra pound or nine, keep us warm now.
I can’t help but think it would be different if we didn’t have children. (NB, I love my children, they make my heart sing, but they are also incredibly early wakers, tough to get to bed, and generally exhausting.) If we didn’t have children, we’d go out for dinner more. Dinner leads to you-know-what, and a bit of nookie after a night out is lots of fun. Sans kids, we’d have money to eat out (even a takeaway is a stretch at the moment) and wouldn’t have to worry about booking a babysitter. Sans kids, we’d be able to wake at a time of our choosing, rather than being ripped cruelly into the dawn and forced to make porridge / wipe arses / find battery-operated trains. And then, we could laze in bed, hit the snooze button, and see if a shag is the best way to start the day, rather than toast cut into triangles (“NOT squares Mummy, they taste funny.”)
And of course, if we didn’t want to get our rude on in the morning, we could go to the gym. I could blow-dry my hair (ha, even washing my hair would be a start). We could share a pot of coffee. Things to make us feel better about ourselves, and get our confidence zinging, All of which could lead to some afternoon delight when we arrive home.
Because as we all know, foreplay for women doesn’t start in the bedroom. It starts with a cheeky text after lunch, far sexier than “Did u leave Benji’s coat @ nursery?” A kiss and a cuddle when you get home, rather than the annoyance that you are on the nursery run because his boss has called him into a meeting he can’t swerve. Arguments about who last put a wash on don’t put me in the mood. Me narking at him for being late again (which I didn’t care about pre-kids because I had a life then too) doesn’t make him horny.
I am not sure what the answer is. Facebook is filled with date-night statuses which make me want to stab myself in the eye, because when we have a date night we have an argument. There is too much pressure on us to have fun over our steak and chips because the babysitter is a tenner an hour, so we feel we have to be extra witty and sexy, when actually we are knackered and cross to be missing Doctor Foster.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. For every reason I loved my husband before I had kids, there are twenty reasons why I love him now. His enthusiasm for making them laugh. How his face softens when he watches them together. How he holds them tight when they fall over, and how he’s taught the 3-year-old the key plot points of the original Star Wars films. I hope that whilst the glue that brought us together might be getting brittle, it’s reinforced by a stronger bond, one that will hold us together into the future. Hopefully long enough for us to sleep through the night. And maybe, just maybe, have a shag before Christmas.
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