Two basic facts society doesn’t seem to understand: Women are sexual beings, and that doesn’t stop being true once a woman becomes a mother. Even the term MILF (Mom I’d Like to Fuck) is predicated on an unspoken idea that most moms aren’t “fuckable”—that the chosen MILF is an exception to the rule about moms and sex. As if many women don’t have sex to become moms in the first place!
But even though we know moms are sexual beings, there are a few things that can get in the way of acting on those desires. (Their kids for one, but also, bodily changes, mood swings, and limited time.)
That’s why our first motherwork event—an ongoing series that provides a safe space for conversations centering Black women—was all about sex and intimacy.
Sex therapist Chamin Ajjan, pleasure advocate Lidia Bonilla, and therapist Melissa Ifill joined me for motherwork: intimacy + sex on February 23 at the New Women Space in Brooklyn to get real about the challenges of reconnecting with yourself as a sexual being after you’ve had kids (whether you’re partnered or a single mom navigating dating) and as you’re working on become a mom.
“We have to learn to be patient with ourselves—often times we have expectations of what life will look like…so [take] the time to figure out this new space of motherhood, womanhood, partner-hood if you have a partnership, and just [understand] that you may just have to get to know yourself all over again,” Melissa said to the audience as they listened intently over delicious food prepared by Mia Nicole of In the Kitchen With Mia Nicole and lots of bubbly courtesy of local wine shop Simple Syrup Wine and Spirits.
“There’s no getting back. You are where you are,” Lidia added. “Any time we try to go back, it’s a memory of something—you might not have even liked it when you were there anyway. Create who you are right now. Create a future for yourself now.”
The panelists encouraged the audience to get familiar with the thoughts that keep them from feeling like a sexual being. Then you can address the action and ”choose to do something different despite how you feel,” Melissa urged.
And what about that well-worn excuse of not having enough time? I think you know what they all said—1, 2, 3…
Make the time.
Chamin encourages couples and single women to schedule time for sex.
“It doesn’t feel spontaneous because you’re scheduling it,” she admits, “but spontaneous things can happen in that moment.”
It’s all about creating the space to be intimate with each other, Chamin explains. You don’t have to have sex on sex night but you’re getting back into intimacy and connecting to where things can happen spontaneously.
One of the biggest takeaways from motherwork: intimacy + sex was the importance of doing the work to reconnect with yourself and your body—of establishing what you want—before you going out to seek it from a partner.
“The way you think about sex changes because your body has done this extraordinary thing and no longer really feels like your body anymore,” Chamin said. “When you think a certain way [about sex],” she said later, “it puts the brakes on your sexuality. It doesn’t feel safe, it. [And] when sex becomes threatening, you come up with other ideas” to stop having it.
Chamin, Melissa, and Lidia all shared ways you can date yourself and find your way back to desire and pleasure.
We talked about intimacy while breastfeeding, how to make sex less goal oriented, how to create a roadmap for what brings you pleasure that you can share with your partner (or know for yourself), how to approach sex when you’re “trying to conceive,” and, most powerfully, how to regain intimacy after experiencing a miscarriage after an audience member shared her devastating experience. (There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.)
After the panel discussion, motherwork went into the workshop portion of the event with each panelist discussing a topic with more detail: Chamin covered sensual mindfulness, Lidia spoke on how to find pleasure every day, and Melissa discussed how the five love languages can inform the way you love yourself.