Last night I had a conversation with someone about how I was happy that most of my sexual exploration has taken place in my later 20s as opposed to earlier on. In many ways, my story sounds very cliché: I was married young, had two kids, got divorced, then became in touch with my sexuality and learned to appreciate sex in a way I never did before. This is my truth. But having sex as a single mother has taught me so much about myself, about who I am, about who I want to be, about where I am going from here. It's not like I didn't have any sex before I got married at 20. I did, it just was limited to about a year-and-half experience. In fact, I can count the times it was an experience I wanted on one hand, and on the other, an experience I didn't want. I was sexually assaulted and raped and it left me with a distaste for sex. I felt like my body was meant to be devoured by men. I assumed I wouldn't ever love having sex, like the first time I had sex with my high school boyfriend.
When I got married, I never saw sex as an important part of our relationship. It's not that we never had sex, because we did. But even though I knew I liked sex enough, I still felt like it was mostly for my partner's enjoyment. I felt like there wasn't really a place for women who want sex and are vocal about it. I didn't know how to push for that place so I left my feelings about sex alone. I didn't explore them, and I didn't really try exploring sex at all. I just accepted my circumstances and what I'd learned. Until one day, when I looked at my ex-husband and told him that I wouldn't have any strong feelings if he was to go out, meet another woman, and sleep with her. In fact, that sounded really appealing to me.
In the beginning, I was scared to get naked around people who I assumed hadn't seen many mom bodies. I was nervous they wouldn't know how to process my stretch-marked body and the scars from my c-sections. What if they judged my sagging boobs? My ass?
I remember in that moment, I didn't want to accept the sex I was having anymore. Something had changed in me, and suddenly I wanted to peel back layers, examine everything under a different light, chase after what I wanted and what turned me on. After admitting that to myself and my ex, we and I tried to stay married while dating other people. I felt a lot of freedom in an open relationship, being able to learn about my sexuality on my own, sharing sex and experiences with other people I didn't know, still able to have an anchor in my partner.
Despite the freedom I felt to explore who I was in an open relationship with my ex-husband, I didn't take into account what sex with other people would actually be like. I think in my mind I imagined it to be like an episode of Sex in the City: just meeting people and sleeping with them. It wasn't like that at all. I realized I was pickier than I expected. I hated using dating apps, and I had no idea how to initiate sex. So I stopped being so picky, used Tinder, and stepped out of my comfort zone. If I wanted to have sex with someone, I'd say, "I want to have sex with you, when can I make that happen?" I was forward. Clear. Honest. More in touch with who I was than ever before.
Each time I had sex with someone, it got a little easier, and I got a bit more confident in who I was
One of my favorite one-time sex dates happened in the middle of the day with a man who was so OCD that he made me fold my clothes after he took them off of me. Then while on top of me, he paused to fix his hair. I remember laying there and thinking the whole situation very amusing, but also wanting it to end as quickly as possible. The first time I had sex with my now fiancé, it was in his room in a three-story house, one he shared with 11 other people. I stopped in the middle of sex and left.
I went on dates with people, and when they would complain about how clingy partners got after sex, I understood how that could be overwhelming. I never saw myself as clingy, but if I felt like I shared something really intimate with someone, I didn't want to pretend that it was nothing. I learned what worked for me and what didn't. I learned that having a one-night stand was nothing to be ashamed of. I tried to stay in touch with the people I'd been intimate with, usually not for sex, but because I was (and am) genuinely interested in them as people. I also love talking about the sex I've had with people. I like acknowledging it, validating it, and laughing about it.
A huge part of who I am as a parent has to do with who I am sexually. I'm not two different people. I am... me: a mother, a partner, an artist, a person who loves her sexuality, and someone who loves sex.
I've learned that sex is such a beautiful thing to share with people, even in its kinkiest and dirtiest forms.
I don't think about my imperfections anymore. I think about how I can't wait to explore and be explored. I feel powerful, especially when I can look someone in the eye and tell them that I want them.
Over the last two years I've had a lot of different sexual experiences with many different partners. In the beginning, I was scared to get naked around people who I assumed hadn't seen many mom bodies. I was nervous they wouldn't know how to process my stretch-marked body and the scars from my c-sections. What if they judged my sagging boobs? My ass? But each time I had sex with someone, it got a little easier, and I got a bit more confident in who I was.
I was raised to think that having a lot of sex made you a slut and a whore. I can say that I've definitely stepped into the role of slut and it's only made me love my body and the magical things it can do more. I don't think about my imperfections anymore. I think about how I can't wait to explore and be explored. I feel powerful, especially when I can look someone in the eye and tell them that I want them. Being raised in an environment that held sex at arm's length taught me to fear it, to be disgusted by what it was. I feel like, in many ways, I've become acquainted with a monster, only to realize I had nothing to be afraid of. Having sex as a single parent has taught me who I am, what I want, and how I want to be treated, both in life and in the bedroom.
I don't just think of myself as a mother, and I don't believe I need to fit into box our society tries to place women in after they've had children. I don't actually believe motherhood means you're limited to a life of diapers, carpools, and bedtime routines. I think it's much more. I think it's a role and part that simply enhances you as a person. I discovered so much about myself as a mom, and a huge part of who I am as a parent has to do with who I am sexually. I'm not two different people. I am... me: a mother, a partner, an artist, a person who loves her sexuality, and someone who loves sex. These can exist together, and for me, they need each other to thrive.