Can a New Mom Be Sexy?

I like to feel sexy. Not the kind of sexy that’s about what other people think of me – I mean the kind of sexy that’s about how I feel inside myself. It’s when I feel alive inside. It’s warm sensations and feeling my energy flowing through my body. It’s yumminess. It’s like a warm sun in the middle of me, glowing out of me. It’s enjoying being the person who has this body.

It’s not about attracting attention, although when I’m enjoying my sexiness it seems like others notice and enjoy it too. There can be contagiousness to it. When I notice and enjoy someone else’s sexiness and let it affect me, it’s like a flame that catches and lights me up, too.

I felt super sexy in my second pregnancy, which was a big surprise to me. I didn’t even know it was possible to be pregnant and feel sexy. I felt curvy, golden, and full of light. I felt yumminess and pleasure filling me up and spilling out of me. So good.

Now that the baby is on the outside, I’m not feeling that same sexiness anymore and I miss it. I think it’s partly the reality of having a little baby. My hormones are wacky. My body is going through a big transition. I’m sharing my breasts, and not in a sexy way. I am carrying a small and unwieldy person around much of time which makes it hard to experience myself as a separate being. There are moments when I feel more like a life support system than a person. I get barf in my hair and sour milk in my bra. See? Not sexy.

The question of whether a new mom can be sexy goes to the core of how we see ourselves and what we really want in our lives. Autonomy. Some women want to give up on thinking about their sexuality for the first few years, hoping that it’ll just come back when everyone starts getting more sleep again. I couldn’t do that – something inside me would die. In fact, I almost let that happen after my first baby, and so I’m more fierce this time around. I know a few friends who’ve fallen into emotional affairs, because the relentless grind of parenting takes them out of all sexiness with their partner. On the other hand, I have a friend who started salsa lessons. She feels her separateness and her sexiness while she dances, and brings heat home to her man. Some of my friends are vigilant about date night. Every week, without fail, they carve out time for themselves and their mate to get out and feel like adults. And, I have a few older women friends who have taken me aside to say: “You must fill your cup. You can’t give to your kids from an empty cup. You have to make time for yourself or your well will run dry.” I’m grateful for those friends, because it’s a message I didn’t get growing up.

Culturally, “momness” is not considered sexy, so that’s a hurdle, but one that’s getting easier to overcome as I care less what they think. Hollywood & TV (see Amy Schumer’s awesome “Last Fuckable Day” sketch), the fashion industry which sometimes features moms, but only if they look like they’ve never had babies, and the ubiquitous older man/younger woman thing. I’m also thinking of deeply ingrained female archetypes that follow us everywhere: Madonna, whore, mother, crone. Women are expected to be one or the other: mother or sexual being. These days I care much more about what’s happening inside of me than I care about the cultural view of motherhood. Thank you therapy. Thank you being 40.

I had to make a plan on how to get my groove back.

Here are some of the things that help me feel sexy:

  • Connecting to myself (as a separate human being)
  • Dancing on my own
  • Jumping or doing anything that invigorates my body
  • Having a shower
  • Placing my hands on my body in a caring way
  • Taking a moment to notice when I feel beautiful
  • Letting myself really feel my attraction to others

These are things I need to return to regularly. I need to make time to refill my sexiness cup, because it doesn’t happen accidentally. To be honest, there are times in my life that are absolute drudgery, filled with: wake up at 5 a.m., who’s dropping off, who’s picking up, can we fit in that play-date, if I can get the baby down by 12:30 can you cover me for a few hours so that I can go see a client, baby crying, six-year-old crying, (mommy crying),  baby bedtime, six-year-old bedtime, watch something funny on Netflix, mommy bedtime. Those days I don’t feel sexy. 

There are ebbs and flows. I go through dry spells, and when I notice I’m in one, I have to make a special effort to return to the practices above. When my sexiness fizzles out, I have to make an effort to spark it. But the fire never goes dark, the way it did after my first baby, when I just gave up. Now I’m clear on my commitment to keeping the spark alight, and when I do? BAM! POW! I feel alive again. I’ve learned that once the current is flowing, it’s easier to keep it going.

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