Sex and the Single Mom

My talented and fierce friend, Shannon Lell, wrote a short, sweet and lovely essay about what she's learned about sex since becoming a single mom. Her writing, as always, elicited smiles from me and again, as always, made me think.

We hear a lot about sex and the single ladies (by the way, hello my name is Miranda according to every SATC online quiz ever). It's long been a safe topic of conversation, of speculation and of course, inspiration. Think of all the t.v. shows, books and movies we've been blessed with, all revolving around the escapades of the single gals.

Sex and the single/divorced moms? Hmm. Not so much. Oh, there are tales, for sure. Single moms are kind of, sort of well-represented onscreen and in writing. But the focus is almost always on the MOM part, and if the SINGLE aspect is addressed it's usually pointed out as an obstacle for her to overcome or a symbol of her plucky perseverance.

When single/divorced moms and sex are discussed, it's often in a negative light. Society tends to focus on how sex has been the cause of our single-motherhood: we had too much sex with way too many men and had too many of their babies (my favorite commentary on this one is "shoulda kept your legs closed!" 🙄). Or perhaps we didn't have enough sex with our partners...raise your hand if you've heard this little ditty before: "If he's not getting it at home, he's gonna get it somewhere else!"

The difference between single dads and single moms, as viewed by the world at large, is startlingly different. Whereas single dads are seen as sweet, somewhat hapless saviors doing it all on their own (omg! he learned how to braid his daughter's hair. I can't even with this cuteness!), single moms are often seen as mooches, a drain on our already stretched-too-thin-resources (omg! don't tell me my tax dollars are paying for her poor choices!). 

In the cases where the light shined on us is bright and positive, it is almost exclusively due to our badassery as mothers. Which is wonderful, don't get me wrong! It's refreshing and validating to be acknowledged. We still have work to do, though, when it comes to recognizing that single/divorced moms are also women...women who have libidos and urges and sometimes, have sex.

Single and divorced moms face two prevalent stereotypes. The first is that of the horny, wanton Jezebel in search of, nay...IN NEED OF a man. Any man will do, people, so guard your menfolk when the cougars are on the prowl! Then the pendulum swings way over for the second single mom caricature: the saintly martyr who has put herself and her wants on the back burner in order to do what's right by the children she brought into this world.

But just as the crew of ladies on Sex and the City taught us, Sex and the Single Mom isn't a one-size-fits-all deal (insert any of a trillion possible SATC jokes here, you guys...puns totes intended and I am not sorry at all). Sex post-divorce and peri-parenthood can be many things: exhilarating, daunting and god help us, sporadic. For many it's an afterthought, when all of the mothering, working and stressing about both of those things are addressed and taken care of. For others it's a challenge to heal from traumatic splits and the very thought of exposing oneself to even the mere chance of more hurt is enough to shut down any burgeoning lustful hankerings.

Time is also quite literally of the essence when it comes to sex and the single mom: when do we have it? Give me a room full of single/divorced moms and I will give you a room full of varied schedules. Some of us have every other weekend to try and get busy, some a week on/week off to get on/get off, others are in the trenches 24/7 with nary a break in sight.

And let us not forget the mental and physical calisthenics which are commonly necessary to find a safe, willing and available partner for all of this sex we're trying to have. I can only speak for myself here, and as an official Single Mom™ I'm going to go on record to say IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Or so I hear. Dating when you're a mom is a whole different ball game compared to dating before you became a mom. Simply put, it's not just you out there on the line; it's your family, too. Not everyone seeks a life partner when they swipe right but for those who do crave something a little more on the serious side, our children are part of the package we present to others (eventually...it is never a good idea to introduce kids to someone in the early stages of dating. Never.)

The exception to this "family dating" thing is, of course, the time honored tradition of having a FWB with a side of NSA. Friend with benefits, no strings attached, and before you pop a knuckle clutching those pearls please know that this is not only okay, many times it's the healthiest of all options for the harried and horny single mom. The trick to this option is finding the right person to fill these shoes. Sometimes it's a fellow single parent, sometimes it's not. The beauty of these relationships are their simplicity: both parties are on the same page, both agree to be safe and both (hopefully) walk away satisfied. Many single moms who have sole/full custody of their children and aren't ready for a full-blown relationship find this to be the ideal, if temporary, solution to the "what's a girl gotta do to get some loving" problem.

Now, I do realize that not every single/divorced mom is chomping at the bit to copulate. Some of us don't, and don't want to, for a myriad of reasons. Whether they're religious beliefs, a need to take a nice long break from it or just because THEY DON'T WANT TO RIGHT NOW OR MAYBE NEVER AGAIN, it doesn't matter. One of the best elements of the whole sexual freedom thing is the freedom to not do it. A lot of women take that time to work on themselves: mentally, physically, spiritually. Learning to love the skin you're in is truly one of the greatest love stories of all time.

We can't forget to mention those who do go on all those first dates, who get winked at and nudged and who bravely meet potential beaus at coffee shops all over this great land of ours. Some of us really do enjoy the dating game, and we persevere...sometimes finding Mr Right, sometimes finding several Mr Maybes.

The point is, there are millions of single/divorced moms out here, and while we have quite a bit in common, we also have a million different ideas of how to navigate the tricky, fun and sometimes-intimidating world of sex. Whether you are the one swinging from the chandeliers with your lovah while the kids are away or the mama who is content with Netflix and chips, the most important thing in all of this is that you are doing what works best for you. ❤

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