Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mom Jeans & The Sexuality of Motherhood

The other day, I was talking with a family member about the loss of sexuality for mothers – the societal stereotype that once a woman becomes a mother, she forfeits any aspect of her identity as a sexual being. This ties in with gender norms that tell women that when they become a mother, their life is only about their children and absolutely nothing else. I’ve written other posts on bisexuality and motherhood or just general musings on how to, as puts it, “integrate your pre-kid identity with your post-kid reality.”
                But it’s interesting to see the reactions, mostly from other women, when a mother is out with her children and looks put-together, or dare I say sexy. There seems to be the assumption that because a mother has makeup on or her hair done, she has neglected her child(ren) in some sort of way to make this happen. Or women who maintain a physically fit body get torn down about spending more time in the gym than with their children – but we don’t know their circumstances. Maybe three times a week is “grandma” time so mama squeezes in a jog, or maybe her and her baby do yoga together, or maybe she’s like me and squeezes in a little pilates floor workout while the baby is having tummy time (Droidlet actually laughs at me when I’m doing some of the moves. It’s awesome.). Maybe, the underlying issue is insecurity coming from other women because of our culture’s insiste nce on physical perfection, but it’s very hard to watch women, mothers, tear each other down for taking care of themselves.
                  In having this conversation with a family member, they reminded me of this old SNL skit:

Don’t get me wrong, I roll out to the grocery store in yoga pants and tank tops on the days where it’s just too much, but it’s also nice to shower during Droidlet’s morning nap and actually put on some eyeliner for a day. It makes me feel good, puts me in a better mood, and therefore, I’m an all around happier mama. For some women, they are most comfortable in their workout clothes or jeans and a sweatshirt and that is fine. This isn’t about fashion, but the underlying assumption that a woman can’t look good, or be sexy, when she is a mama because it means that she’s not fully taking care of her kids.
                               What ties into the physical perception is also the misperception that once a woman has a child they don’t want to have sex anymoreneveragainno. Quite frankly, the issue of sex in our culture is taboo to begin with and I think becomes moreso for a woman who has had a child. What’s funny is that what most people don’t talk about is sexual desire during pregnancy. Myself and many of my friends who have been pregnant had a huge horniness spike while pregnant. Most of us had sex up until the day we went into the hospital to give birth and for a majority of us (once the labor pains went away) have kept up that sexual libido. It’s so interesting to me that the thing that put the baby there in the first place becomes something that we are afraid to talk about. SEX IS AWESOME – before AND after having a baby.
                Being a mother does not mean the loss of the sexual self (in any form that it comes in for each individual) and it doesn’t mean giving up everything else in life – including personal grooming, if that’s your thing – to be a mama. The same battle of balance in sexuality is also fought for those mothers who, post-kid, choose to go back to work, or to continue their education, or retain their hobbies, or still go to Burning Man, or still go to music festivals… the list goes on and on. It’s really all about balance.

And speaking of balance, I have that thesis thing to write and should probably shower before class. Balance, balance, balance...


  1. Woohooo!! Thank you for giving me something to muse about instead of working on boring-old-homework. Always love your posts Rachael.

  2. Haha. Thank you! After watching that SNL skit again, I had to write a post!

  3. you are such a comfortable writer, Rach. <3 I wish i looked at these posts earlier!

  4. Yet another wonderful post here. You give me much to think about, especially in my own fears (more aptly, terrors) of being a mother. I am petrified that I will be expected to lose myself and put my kids before everything, I'm terrified of a loss of identity of self because of cultural and family expectations and it's comforting to be reminded that there are women out there whom that does not happen to.