December is such a lovely, magical time of year. All the twinkly lights, crackling fireplaces, charming music... it brings out the romantic in all of us. Couples are inspired to reclaim their relationships (all those Hallmark movies are bound to give you ideas), and passions soar higher than Santa's sleigh. But since this is real life, the truth is that even as they tumble in the sheets, moms everywhere are making holiday lists in their heads that have absolutely nothing to do with sex.
It's not that we don't want to enjoy a little mistletoe magic; far from it. But when we have a thousand errands to run, cooking to do, gifts to buy, cards to write, and overexcited kids to supervise, it's hard to stay focused on our partners, even in the midst of the act. As Psychology Today explained, our level of sexual arousal and performance is closely connected to our thought processes. When our brains are churning with anxiety or distracting images, let's just say it doesn't make for mind-blowing sex. One study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario found that women were most likely to be distracted during sex by thoughts about their body image. But during the holidays, there's plenty more to keep our minds occupied (though we certainly do fret that the goodies at the office party went straight to our hips).
These are some of the biggies, and you probably can think of a bunch more. Trust us, we totally sympathize... but try to turn off your brain for just a couple of minutes when you and your partner are together. This time of year is crazy enough without spoiling your limited couple-time, too. And think about the benefits...
The Holiday Card List
Moms may be sighing "ooh" and "aah" in bed. But what their guys don't know is that a portion of their brains are mentally recalling all the cards they've gotten so far from friends and family, and checking them against the stack of photo greetings on the dining-room table that are ready for mailing. Wait — you don't have one for your college roommate, and hers is already on your mantel. Can you still reorder from Shutterfly first thing in the morning? It still counts as a New Year's card if it goes out on December 26, right? Right??
The Gift Pile List
A mom of more than one child spends at least a third of her day (both in and out of bed) taking stock of their Christmas gifts. This involves calculations that would impress a Nobel mathematician: How many LEGO sets does it take to equal one American Girl doll? What is the ratio of clothes to toys? How many hours do you have left to shop once you realize that Child #3's pile is half the height of Child #1's and a quarter the height of Child #2's? And how much more shopping does Mom have to do before she says, "Screw it — I'll just get them all a Visa gift card and call it a day"? If you dig your nails a little harder into his back while figuring this out, well, just consider it a bonus.
The Where To Put The Freaking Elf On The Shelf List
Oh...yes...oh...yes...oh...#$&*#$&*! I DIDN'T MOVE THE ELF TONIGHT AND MY KIDS ARE GOING TO WAKE UP IN 5 HOURS. When you first bought the Elf, you couldn't wait to make that nightly Christmas magic. You pictured your children's astonished faces as they discovered little Tinsel making confectioner's-sugar snow angels or drawing mustaches on the family portraits. And yeah, it was fun for the first few days. But you still have two weeks left, and you're running out of ideas. Even Pinterest isn't much help anymore: We've all done the goldfish-cracker-fishing-in-the-bathroom-sink bit already, thanks. Would it be too crass to pose Tinsel passed out in Barbie's Dream House with an empty miniature bottle of Fireball in his arms? It would? Damn. Oh, no, I didn't mean you, honey. You were great. It was amazing. Really it was.
The Tip And Gift List
Moms' minds boggle thinking about all the rules and exceptions to tipping, even when they're in the throes of passion. Your regular hair stylist is on your list, but what about the four shampoo assistants who've soaped your scalp this year? Do you slip a little something to the Dunkin' servers who always remember to put an extra pump of French vanilla in your latte? And let's not forget the teacher gifts. It's easy enough when your child has just one homeroom teacher, but what about the later grades, when kids have five or six? Can you omit the art teacher, or would you be accused of not supporting the arts in school? It's a wonder we have any libido at all with worries like these.
The Kids' Vacation Activities List
Moms who already have their Disney Cruise Line boarding passes or reservations to Great Wolf Lodge can relax and surrender to sweet sexual release. The rest of us are mentally taking stock of each moment from December 26 till school starts again. No one wants to admit to 10 a.m. wake-ups and watching endless reruns of PAW Patrol and Bunk'd. So the list-making begins: Bowling, ice-skating, Chuck E. Cheese, the children's museum, cutting paper snowflakes, movie matinee, bowling again, library storytime...how long is it till school starts? Oh, sorry, were you talking to me, hon?
The Defusing Family Drama List
You've already lost the annual squabble over whose family's home to visit at Christmas. Now you're mentally preparing comebacks for each possible awkward scenario. Mother-In-Law: "No, we're not trying for a boy right now, and we wouldn't trade our four girls for anything." Show-Off Sister: "Hope you have a great time in St. Kitts. We're looking forward to a chillaxing staycation." Buzzkill Brother: "I'm so sorry your life sucks right now, but I refuse to let you blame me for it." Politically Argumentative Aunt: "You know I adore you, but if I hear one more word about the fake news media and MAGA, I'm going to upchuck right in your Pinot Noir."
You know what? There's only so much a mom's mind can deal with at one time. Give your partner a big hug and kiss, apologize for being distracted, and plan a real night of romance after the New Year.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.