“Agghh! My back! Why did you do that?!” I gasped.
“I was trying to be sexy,” Alex admitted sheepishly.
“I am a 41-year-old woman. You cannot treat my lower back like that.”
“I’m so sorry I hurt your back.”
“I’m sorry I yelled at your penis.”
“Yeah … he’s done for the night.”
And so ends another hot and heavy weekday sexy time. We are middle-aged, we’ve been married for almost 19 years, and our kids are old and always, always awake. Sex has become a bit of a conundrum.
A few months ago we agreed to start scheduling. Certain nights of the week are sex nights, because the calendar is getting away from us. I’m not telling you which nights, because you guys couldn’t be cool about it and my daughter’s friends on Instagram would see and start reminding her what her parents are doing and she’d have to emancipate herself and never speak to us again. No one wants that.
We do it in the basement, in a little bedroom with a low ceiling and a recurring rodent problem. We lock ourselves in and try to ignore the sounds of teen brontosaurus feet above us. The conditions are not ideal, you guys, but our choices are limited. Our upstairs master bedroom, with its paper thin walls and vaulted ceiling, might as well have surround sound, pumping out, “WE ARE HAVING SEX. SEX TIME IS NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW.” We could get rid of all our kids, stop having sex because it’s too hard, or push through and make this happen, come hell or lower back probs.
It’s not like the movies. I’m usually trying not to think about the field trip form I forgot to sign or the dishes left in the sink. He’s trying to get away from the office long enough to hang out with me. The kids are fighting. We’re tired.
“Did you lock the door?”
“Are the dogs put up?”
“Did I remember to brush my teeth today?”
Alex generously plugs in the space heater and points it directly at my boobs because it’s fricking freezing in this basement and I can’t take my clothes off in these sub-arctic conditions. I’ve asked if I could just do it in my clothes but he nixed that idea.
Hey Victoria’s Secret, I have a sure winner for you: split-crotch flannel leggings for middle-aged women who are always cold. Ooh, so sexy.
Between my trusty space heater, a solid lock on the door, and sending the kids upstairs to do homework, read books, plot bank heists or whatever, we can usually bang out our weekday meetings with precision and not a little relief.
It feels like something on our to-do list that we’re checking off. Sexy time, check. See you next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. But it’s more than that, I know. In the midst of all the forces of nature pulling at us, pulling us apart, pulling for our attention, we have to keep coming together for us.
The thing is, conditions are never ideal. Marriage is so weird. Early on, we were practically kids and barely knew what we were doing. Then came the infertility years and everything felt bleak and broken. Now that we actually know how to do this thing effectively and for funsies, we can’t find a minute to ourselves without the kids knocking or the dogs trying to jump up on the bed to join us.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. In college while we were sneaking around campus trying to find a dark corner in which to make out away from our roommates, I never would’ve pictured that we’d be doing the exact same thing twenty years later, only our roommates are our kids.
Weekends away have become godsends, where we can get a little space around us and have time to feel luxurious. But those special trips are few and far between, so the weekday, bang it out sex is crucial, too, and I keep reminding myself that this is a phase. It’s a long phase, but in a few years, we’ll have the house to ourselves again. Most likely I’ll be menopausal but whatever I’ll take it. Hot flashes mean I won’t need the heater anymore.