The Moms & Dads Are Horny

A Love Letter To My Missing Sex Drive

Will I have sex on Feb. 14? Who’s to say? (No.) But I will have sex again, damn it.

Dear Sex Drive,

The last time we really talked was pre-motherhood, when I was a single wolfette howling at full moons — or the phosphorus glare of bad bar lighting, more likely — and going to bed either alone or with a relative stranger. We were more in tune back then, weren’t we? In fact, you were an unignorable, guiding force in my life. We mostly had fun, even though you ushered me down many paths lined with bright red flags that led me right past the neighborhood of good judgment and into the realm of the regrettable. This wasn’t your fault, necessarily; you were just doing your job! And lately, I guess I’ve been doing mine. I’m sorry that includes ignoring you.

I’ve always hated those corny “say goodbye to your sex life” jokes told to expectant fathers in sitcoms and movies because they are awash with misogyny, but now I also hate them because they are true. My partner and I weren’t going to be the cliche couple who welcome a baby and all but stop having sex. We would defy social norms, dad jokes, and parenthood! And then, 10 days after her due date, the baby came and adorably sucked my lifeforce.

What was once fun, fresh and exciting (sex) is actually still those things when it happens, aka when the stars align and the parenting worries and tired, worldweary dread temporarily leave my body long enough for me to remember that sex is fun and I should do it more. My sex life has become one of those “sure sex is great, but have you tried...” jokes. Only instead of something mildly comforting in exchange, all I have is “but have you tried shutting down emotionally like a mean little turtle who snaps at anyone who gets close to her shell hole?”

Sex Drive, you may never again rule my life and choices, but you are a part of it in a real way. You are still welcome here. There’s just a lot of other stuff consuming me now.

It’s not that you’re actually gone, Sex Drive. By the 20th re-watch of the entire Cocomelon catalog, the mind wanders to unexpected places. Suddenly J.J.’s red-haired, “Oh, no, honey, owie-ow! Make my boo boo better now” cuck of a dad starts to perform his wiggly, arm-clapping dance to the “Baby Shark” song with that silly smile on his dorky face, and I feel my loins stir. Is Mr. Schmidt the ultimate hate-f*ck, or do I just want to live in his large cartoon house, with his clean countertops and expansive backyard?

And I do get turned on by things other than computer-animated dads and their mansions, I promise! My partner’s a fox. We love each other deeply and when my eyes meet his throughout the day, those little electric glances we exchange after we call on each other because we need to use the bathroom (code for I need a 20-minute break to stare at my phone), remind us we’re alive. But ultimately, the moment passes because it's impossible to seize it, and later, I’m sorry but I am tired.

My child is on the precipice of turning 3. She’s grown from infant to toddler these past two years. It’s almost too painful to think of what those years might’ve looked like, had the pandemic not derailed our lives.

My wants are all in conflict. I want to be around my family all the time, but I also want to be alone. I love when my toddler barges in on me in the bathroom and I wish I had locked the door. I want to have more hot sex, and I want to read more and sleep more and cook more and plan better in all the ways my long-undiagnosed ADHD combined with the pandemic has made it hard to be a proactive, organized supermom or even a regular, average mom.

I was recently reminiscing with my cousin, also a mom of young kids, about what we would do with them if there wasn’t a pandemic. Truly nothing special. Trips to play centers, libraries, maybe a kid-friendly restaurant if everyone’s behaving. Or we’d meet at a McDonald’s with a play zone on a Saturday morning, where the kids can burn all their plentiful toddler energy while their parents try to wake up with surprisingly good coffee and reliably greasy hash browns. These outings, ones we once would have considered banal, even uninspired, are what my dreams are made of now.

I realize that more than my time, attention, freedom, and the community-based ideal of how I saw my daughter’s toddler years playing out, what the pandemic has taken from me is spontaneity.

I realize that more than my time, attention, freedom, and the community-based ideal of how I saw my daughter’s toddler years playing out, what the pandemic has taken from me is spontaneity. Not only sexual spontaneity, but definitely that too because that is tied to the impulse to follow an impulse. I also want the ability to escape to the mall with my kid for an afternoon of wandering around giggling and eating Cinnabons. To be in public together. I live in Toronto, and it is winter. When outside is too cold to be an option, as it is some days, we all go a little crazy inside all day. My days are spent trading off child care duties with my partner, tapping in and out of babysitter roles like two weary UFC fighters, or tearily proclaiming my mom “Saint Val!” when she shows up to help us for the day. I worry nonstop about the impact it’s all having on my daughter.

Hand-wringing anxiety isn’t good for your vagina, and my antidepressants are known lust lowerers. Even my former sex dreams have been replaced by stress dreams. A couple nights ago, I dreamed that one of my aunts cornered me wielding an electrolysis machine. She said she couldn’t sit idly by and watch me walk around with the ’stache of a 14-year-old Italian boy any longer and proceeded to stab a mini needle issuing an electrical current into my upper lip. It hurt like hell and I woke up in a sweat and immediately pet my upper lip fuzz, which has become like an actual pet at this point because the bodily maintenance I developed into a seamless routine as a teenager has all but disappeared. I cut my nails when they break and shower when I am offended by my own scent. At first, the home haircuts were cute and novel. Now I cut crooked bangs for myself almost on purpose, as if to communicate my emotional state is as uneven as my hair.

I also don’t know what a thriving sex drive should look like in these times. My baby had just turned 1 when the pandemic started. My partner and I had barely gotten our groove back. The emergency cesarean I had left me with a pulling, throbbing scar and a consistent pain in my lower left side that no medical professional seemed to care about because one thing they don’t tell you is that our patriarchy-infused medical systems pay even less attention to women immediately after they’ve had babies. I’m still here though, occupying a body I used to know but that remains foreign, longing to visit some hippie midwife practitioner who’ll give a sh*t, and forever cursing myself for not opting for a midwife when I had the choice.

If I had the opportunity, I might go out for a candlelit dinner and have sex in the car before coming home, like a lil slut. You’d like that. In truth, we’ll probably end up ordering pizza and watching the Valentine’s Day episode of Peppa Pig.

Sex Drive, I know Valentine’s Day is coming. Even though it’s a fake holiday the Catholic church created to replace a pagan wolf festival, and St. Valentine was chosen because of his oblique backstory, it’s now a day I will happily celebrate. In fact, I spent most of yesterday cutting out red and pink paper hearts for my child to color, but instead she used them as “blankets” to tuck in her Go! Go! Cory Carson toy cars. Even the toys are tired.

If I had the opportunity, I might go out for a candlelit dinner and have sex in the car before coming home, like a lil slut. You’d like that. In truth, we’ll probably end up ordering pizza and watching the Valentine’s Day episode of Peppa Pig.

Will I have sex on Feb. 14? Who’s to say? (No.) But I will have sex again, damn it. Sex Drive, you may never again rule my life and choices, but you are a part of it in a real way. You are still welcome here. There’s just a lot of other stuff consuming me now. Just like my toddler, we have to learn to share and take turns.

No matter what, I promise to keep you busy with horny thoughts. For instance, after watching Encanto 23 times, I’m certain that Tia Pepa and Tio Felix have the hottest sex in Casita Madrigal, and I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating what happens, weatherwise, when that sex happens. Volcanoes? Earthquakes? Lightning storms? How is Casa Madrigal still standing at all?!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sex Drive. Long may you run.

This story is part of Romper & Fatherly’s Sex Issue, The Moms & Dads Are Horny. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and parents deserve good sex, too.