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Toddler Tips

From "Mama" to Lover

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 3, May - June 1998, pp. 90-91

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

"Toddler Tips" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help parents of toddlers. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Situation

Though my toddler isn't nursing much anymore, I find that I am still very connected to her. I feel especially uneasy when my husband and I are making love and my mind seems to be centered on her even though she is asleep in another room. I've heard that this happens to many mothers in the early weeks of their babies' lives, but it didn't seem to stop for me. I love my husband very much and want to give him my full attention when we are alone together. How have other mothers shifted gears from "mama" to lover?

Response

Nursing fosters such a strong connection between mother and child. Sometimes, I am caught off guard by the intensity of it. Frequently I have awakened minutes before my nursing child, or had my milk let down during a brief separation, only to find out that it happened just when my child began to fuss. I, too, feel connected to my nursling even when my husband and I are making love. It may be coincidence, but I believe that when I try to keep my mind off my nursling, he is more likely to wake up. I'm not a very metaphysical person, but I think there is a spiritual link between mother and baby and the baby can feel when he is being shut out. When we are making love, it has helped me to acknowledge my connection to my child. I try to accept my child's presence in my heart and move on to the next thought. Trying to ignore it seems more stressful. It's like someone telling you not to think of elephants. To think about your child during romantic times is natural, just like thinking about your husband when you are nursing or doing any other motherly thing is natural.

Jenni Groft
Phoenix AZ USA

Response

I have good news and perhaps, not-so-good news. You will gradually learn to enjoy the time alone with your husband. However, your daughter will most likely remain the center of your attention, even long after she has weaned. You can start by cuddling while your child plays nearby. Our boys thought it was funny when they were younger. As teens, they are embarrassed by even a long kiss, but at least they know we are still in love.

Talk with your husband, I think that is the key. I told my husband that while my mind was not completely on the love-making, it was not his fault. I think that helped him, and I know admitting it helped me relax. At some point, you will probably be amazed that you are enjoying yourself. I almost felt guilty the first time I realized that I "forgot"' about the kids for even a little while, even though I know I would have been the first to react to any sounds of danger or distress! Like most good things, shifting from "mama" to "lover" takes time. You will mostly be "mama with a lover" and enjoying both!

Janice Hartman
Baltimore MD USA

Response

When my children were younger, I had a similar problem. We were lucky enough to have family members close by who were willing to babysit. Unfortunately for us it wasn't on "our time." However, some times are better than no times. I just couldn't relax enough to make love with the little ones in the house. Our children are now five and ten years old. Now we just tell them to go watch cartoons because it's "Mommy and Daddy time."

Darlene Gilbert
Victoria BC Canada

Response

Try to find a time when you can share your feelings with your husband. It may be easier and more helpful to talk during a relaxing walk rather than while in the bedroom! Your instincts are normal and by sharing them you may find a new level of intimacy, both physical and emotional. I find I can turn down my "mama" level and heighten my lover level when my now eight-year-old is safely enjoying a sleepover with friends at their house! Hopefully, so do their "mamas" when the sleepover is at our house! I think it's incredible how connected we become when we nurse our babies.

Helen Roth
Cape May NJ USA

Response

You are not alone. We have a six-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old who both sleep in other rooms. Though our two-and-a-half-year-old weaned naturally at 26 months, he still enjoys the family bed much of the time. I am still very connected to both boys and it is sometimes difficult for me to go from mama to lover. I check on both boys directly before and after lovemaking. We are thankful for a lock on our bedroom door; this allows us to hear footsteps and keeps tiny eyes from seeing us. I can then relax and enjoy.

Vera Lynn Richardson
Chillicothe OH USA

Response

I wonder if you would be reassured to know that having thoughts of your young child during your "alone time" with your husband sounds normal. I would venture to guess that many mothers have experienced this, but don't often discuss it. It even seems natural to think of your child, as she is the result of your love together. I once read that wondering if your union might result in a baby adds spice. Thinking of existing children doesn't seem much different from thinking of a possible future child. Perhaps when a mother is so connected to her child she never completely "shifts gears." Now motherhood is a part of her very being.

Gian Ryan
Laurel MD USA

Response

It's difficult to switch from mama to lover. I think the two roles need to coexist every day. Sit next to each other and hold hands while watching the news, play with your daughter together, hug as you pass in the kitchen, kiss while making dinner. A phone call during the day just to say, "hello, I love you," does wonders to keep the fire burning. Showing affection outside the bedroom helps you both connect in the bedroom. It's great for kids to see their parents enjoy and love each other.

Deanna Roberts
Rochester NY USA

Response

I found that the only way I could "shift gears from mama to lover" was by not doing it! Whenever my son sneaks into my mind during intimate times with my husband, instead of trying to push the thoughts away, I remind myself that if I had never been a lover, I would never have been a mother! Once I did this, I realized that it was okay for "Brody's mom" to be "Elysia" as well. I did not have to be two separate people or play two roles. I relaxed and enjoyed myself. It also helped to discuss it with my husband. He helped the situation even further by telling me he had never been more attracted to me than since I had become a mom. This reinforced the idea for me that "Mom" doesn't have to stop being a sexual and sensual creature. If anything, those features are enhanced.

Elysia Whisler
Woodbridge VA USA

Last updated Tuesday, October 17, 2006 by njb.
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