Sometimes I wish I were a man.
I don’t suffer from penis envy or wish I had a hairy chest or could push our lawnmower or anything like that. But in a way, I am jealous of my husband. I wish my brain were wired more like his. I wish I had The Switch.
I’m talking about The Sexual Switch. The ability to turn desire on and off like a garden hose. One minute you’re watching TV, minding your own business, then you see a flash of flesh on a Victoria Secret commercial and suddenly you’re ready to go. Your Fun Zone lights up like a pinball machine, ready to knock around a few marbles. Screw making dinner, screw the kids sleeping in the next room, screw the blinds cracked just enough for a nosy neighbor to catch a show if he feels like peeping. You’re randy and you’re ready.
The closest I’ve come to having The Switch was way back in high school. Make-out parties. Getting geared up for a little first-base, second-base and so forth, only to have lights thrown on, coupled with the heavy, purposeful footsteps of an approaching parent down rickety basement stairs. If that doesn’t wilt your lily, nothing will. But as soon as all was assumed well and kosher, as soon as the creak of the closing door reached your adolescent eardrums, the lights dimmed, music played on, and the baseball game continued without missing a play.
I think having kids has ruined any chance I ever had of recapturing The Switch.
Like the other day when I decided my husband and I should take a bath. The kids were finally asleep, the wine was red and the night was young. A picture began taking shape in my head of the two of us luxuriating beneath the warm, fuzzy blanket of a million tiny bubbles, feeling my husband’s body resting against mine, sipping our wine as we talked. I turned the faucet on hot, and dumped a whole bottle of bubble bath into the burbling water. I even turned on our old lava lamp, because after two kids, the glow from a blue, Spencer’s novelty lamp is much more forgiving than the glare of eight naked bulbs screaming from the vanity.
My husband appeared, his Iphone set to a playlist of soft, sensuous songs, filling our bathroom with velvet music. We sank into the tub together, clinked glasses and let the hot water dissolve a week’s worth of tension. I started to feel like a person again. A woman. And, dare I say, a bit frisky.
That is until the crackling monitor in the other room belted out the latest hit from our five-month-old daughter.
“Want me to get her?” my husband asked.
I sank lower in the tub and shook my head, determined not to let a few warbling cries upset my still-tentative libido. I focused on the music, the wine, my husband’s scruffy face cast in a blue shadow, trying like hell to block out my daughter’s whimpers. Already I felt the painfully narrow window of opportunity start to slip shut, as my modest sexual fantasies were replaced by my fantasy of climbing into bed and falling asleep to an episode of Bizarre Foods.
The cries escalated to somewhere between whining and wailing.
My husband, who had fished my foot out from beneath the bubbles and begun massaging it, looked at me.
“You sure you don’t want me to get her?”
I was sure. Because I knew that, though he would try his darnedest to get our daughter to settle back down (he wanted to get busy as much as I did…no wait, a lot more that I did), he would fail. I knew this because she was teething, and the only thing that would get her to settle down was to nurse. The reason I hadn’t already leapt from the tub and beat a dripping, bubbly path to her door was that I knew once I’d transitioned to Mommy Mode, there was no going back.
The music stopped for a moment, and in that gap of silence came a huge, shuddering yowl of a baby who wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“All right, all right,” I muttered, and pulled myself from the tub.
“I’ll just hang out here,” my husband called after me.
I sat in the rocking chair for just under twenty minutes, rocking and nursing my darling daughter back to sleep. More than enough time for my visions of intimacy to swirl down the drain with my now lukewarm bathwater. By the time I made it to my bedroom, my husband had relocated our wine to our respective night stands, brought in the lava lamp, and lay on the bed in just his boxers, smiling as if welcoming me to a really hot party.
I almost burst into tears right there; the last thing I wanted now was to hop into bed and play a little naked rodeo. And my husband looked so sweet, so openly eager to get down to business. How was I supposed to tell him that I was ready to crash? That our daughter had sucked my mojo out through my nipples, leaving me with the overwhelming urge to put on my most unflattering, wrinkled pajamas and call it a night? This was supposed to happen, dammit. The lava lamp was still on for crying out loud.
My husband is a very understanding, rational person, but sometimes even he finds it cruelly unfair that my maternal self and my sexual self cannot occupy the same body at the same time. And when my maternal self comes to roost, her fat ass doesn’t leave for days. Sometimes weeks.
I’ve been assured that this won’t last. That someday my body will be more than a couple feedbags attached to a jungle gym. That my husband and I will get an hour or two of private time without being interrupted by a crying baby or a toddler’s nightmare.
So as long as my husband understands that I don’t mind giving without receiving, I’ll get through this dry spell and emerge on the other side ready to be reciprocated. And maybe by then I’ll have something resembling a switch of my own.