On Sex and Parenthood
As a queer femme guy, one of the qualities that I always used to pride myself on was my ability to turn heads. I'd walk into a room with my tight jeans, big hair, perfectly executed duck face and I'd feel... sexy. As a Queer person my efforts to be sexy were also, by default, an effort to be subversive. What is more queer than bucking social norms and having fun while doing it? I also loved what it meant to move about the world feeling sexy. Being more connected to the most basic parts of myself kept me feeling alive.
This didn't seem to change when I found someone I loved. In fact, it got better. Now, I was awoken in the middle of the night to have sex. My husband and I were doing it all of the time and anywhere we damn well pleased. It was great to feel and be sexy. I'd go out to bars and I'd be noticed. I'd get hit on at the grocery store or on the bus. Then... I had kids.
Suddenly, my nights were spent soothing my crying baby. I was constantly flustered and scrambling to get my shit together. My once clean and tidy house became a whirlwind of shoes, toys, and an embarrassing amount of food crumbs. The same things began to happen to my personal appearance (including the crumbs). Bathing my children and making breakfast became a bit more important than fixing my hair. I started to find that the jeans that made my ass look good weren't the pants I wanted to wear to curl up on the couch and read children's books. I stopped noticing myself and so did everyone else. I stopped feeling sexy.
Now, I don't regret this. I think I did what I had to do in order to be the best parent that I could. But over time, I started to miss my sexy self. I missed snapping my fingers in approval at myself in the mirror every morning. I missed my perfectly executed duck face as I took endless selfies on my digital camera (this was before the age of the iPhone). I missed what it felt like to be a sexual being. Instead, I felt like a big lump of parenthood.
It took me a while to figure out that so much of this struggle was tied up in a lot of things about identity and what parenthood does to one's identity. I found that I just couldn't be sexy in the ways that I used to be. My life was totally different and the things I did before just didn't make sense now. Now I've got kids grabbing my clothes and climbing on me all of the time. I've got food crusted on my pants or hoodie at the end of each day. I have wear a hat some days because it's more important to get my kid to school on time than to fix my hair. It just meant that I had to find new ways to be sexy.
After a lot of trial and error, I started to realize that feeling sexy had a lot to do with what was going on inside my head. For example, I started to exercise regularly. In the beginning, I would constantly weigh myself in an effort to track my progress. This is a trap. DO NOT DO THIS! I would feel so shitty when it seemed that I put on a few pounds. There was also a time when I committed to not weighing myself at all. I would go to the gym or yoga class and I’d come home and look at myself and I'd feel sexy. When I finally did weigh myself, I realized that I actually gained weight during this time and thus came to the conclusion that sexy was a feeling, not a concrete thing that could be measured. So exercise has become a vital tool for me in my journey to be sexy again. When I feel like I am taking care of my body, I am more likely to feel sexy. (I don't at all mean to conflate sexy with thin, that deserves a whole other blog post). Taking care of my body has also come to mean other things - like finding the best face lotion for my skin type, going to bed earlier and getting more sleep, and drinking more water/less alcohol (doing great on the former, working on the latter).
The next thing I did was work to figure out how I could marry my lazy choices (wearing a hat instead of fixing my hair) with something that would help make me feel good. I bought a cuter hat and pants that didn't show stains. They didn’t rip when I squatted down and still made my ass look great! The truth is, I've started to feel sexy again. Some guy even tried to give me his number a few weeks ago. I didn't take it, but hey- still got it!
I get that feeling or being sexy isn't for everyone. We've all got different ideas of what this means, so I don't intend to impose my sexiness on you. I would, however, encourage you to try to connect with your old sexy self. Put on something that makes you feel good. Go to a yoga class. Maybe the next time your toddler drops her pacifier in public, you could pick it up, catch the eye of the nearest hot person, and pop that pacifier in your own mouth. Or maybe not. The point is - do something this week to get your sexy on!