Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Talking about it.

Yesterday I tweeted a piece written by a woman who has stayed faithful to her husband though he won't sleep with her.

It came to me hard on the heels of a weekend where I was evaluating my choices and reflecting on how we don't -- we really don't -- advocate for ourselves in our bedrooms.

If you spend any amount of time in 'mom groups' or similar forums, eventually the question of sex will arise. It is usually somebody braving embarrassment to ask about post-partum sex, but the answers often go much wider in their range. You have women asking how to deal with demands when their bodies have only just given birth. How to make sex more interesting. How to be interested in sex when you're severely sleep-deprived. How to find interest in your husband once more. How to, in short, meet their partners' needs.

Over the years my groups have had their children grow, and the stresses change. In these different conversations, some of the women got back in the game, some did not. And when I say some did not, I mean there continued to be a mismatch in libido and expectations, not that they kept refusing sex. You see, I find that it's more common for the women to sadly talk of being refused than actually refusing. Women who refuse tend to reach out for strategies or help. Those who are refused really have no recourse. As women we appreciate the importance of consent, and that means accepting the No.

What women don't recognise, are never taught to recognise, is when the No is being used to control and manipulate them. Without being a slave to our bodies, we may yet crave touch. Being refused physical contact (and sex) consistently has an adverse effect on one's emotional and physical health and I think it's important to acknowledge this.

I have no real answers. For the longest time I tried to understand where the No came from, but since it was not my No, and very few men that I know are honest to themselves (or for that matter their wives) about why they do what they do, I really don't know why they say No. I have my theories, but when you're craving touch, theories are pretty cold comfort.

Instead, turning 35 has flipped another switch in me. I don't yet clearly know what I want, but I do know some of the things I want. I'm giving them priority. Sex is one of them, as is touch. So are conversations. The woman I want to be must be able to talk about things that matter. She must be able to speak up in bed and explain what she wants. She must be able to fantasise freely, with no shame for doing so. I am not generally very reserved about sex as a subject but I don't often explain what I want to the one who needs to know. I'm changing that. And I'm going to be kind to myself when experiments fail. And no embarrassment! It is terribly difficult to ask for things that you've been conditioned to not even discuss, or tell stories that you don't usually tell your men, but it can be done. And I am determined to do it. Telling my stories also helps me understand where I myself come from, so it's important to tell them well, truthfully, with an eye to detail. I have no idea where this is going to lead, but I do expect good sex to follow, so it's worth the work.

Sometimes you just need to be militant to get what you want.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Birthday Wishlist

I'll be thirty-five (35!) in ten more days and may have gone slightly overboard with the gifts I've been giving myself. I've pretty much gifted myself a small terrace garden, and it's not come cheap! So I was sitting here ignoring deadlines and wondering what else I want for my birthday and here is my list:

1. I want the boys to stop growing. It's ridiculous that Rahul will be 11 and Beni 3 this year. I never gave them permission to grow.

2. I want my baby back. Beni was to be my last baby, my do-over, and instead he's become Rahul's disciple. Before his third birthday he lectures me on superheroes and does 'origami' for fun, exactly like Dada. It's not acceptable.

3. I want to look pretty. I mean, I've been wanting this for thirty years now, surely somebody can wave a magic wand and make this happen?

4. I want to travel, and I know a woman who earns only enough to pay the bills and has two kids to raise cannot afford such a luxury. Sue me, I want it anyway.

5. I want to visit my friends around the world and give them a quick, fierce hug. You all matter to me and I understand I'm a terrible friend for not keeping in touch better, but you all are a part of my life anyway.

6. I want Vicky to get younger. He's getting alarmingly old in his head, just got bifocals and no longer enjoys driving. I didn't sign up for this and I want it to change. He can age when I'm ready for him to age.

7. I want a beach within short driving distance of my house. Wtf Bangalore, couldn't you have organised this better? 7-8 hours by car is not short 'driving distance' and you need to look into this right away.

8. I want my new plants to survive. I'm looking at you, curry plant sapling with one green sprig and everything else shrivelled. Also you, jasmine cutting with two brave green leaves where none of your peers have any and show no ambition to grow any either. Begging you here, please survive me.

9. I want my car to grow magically bigger when I need it to. It can remain its current compact size at all other times, since it's about the right size for city traffic and city parking spaces.

10. I want my body to not give up on me. Please don't. I'm only 35 (and that not yet) and it's too young to be sick and sickly.

* Bonus wish: Not naming it, don't know if I'd have the courage to ask for it even (opportunity to ask arising) but I have been wishing for it for many years now and it's my extra wish for luck this year too.

Friday, May 05, 2017

That holiday

Every so often I try to remind myself to let things go. I am terrible at it. However, whenever I do, good things happen.

Days after I forced myself to stop whingeing about a holiday, Vicky suggested a staycation right here in Bangalore. We checked into Hotel Ivory Tower for a day of air-conditioning, room service, television and a giant bed! I don't know which was my favourite. It's been brutally hot in Bangalore this year and all my usual ways of keeping the house cool aren't working beyond a point. Anyway, so the AC was a delight! I also want to mention the room service. While it's quite true that Vicky is generally good about bringing me snacks and tea and breakfast, it's equally true that all these need some prior organisation and later cleaning by me, so it was lovely not having to think of any of that.

The very first thing we did after checking in was to have a late lunch at Lakeview. The food was strictly ok and it was pretty hot since it doesn't have air conditioning but the boys were happy with the desserts and I was happy with my spicy mutton cutlets.

Our next move was to put the boys down for a nap. Rahul doesn't really nap but he was ordered to stay in bed and not move so it comes to the same thing.

As Beni slept and Rahul listened to music, Vicky worked on his calligraphy and I on my tatting. As a family we are pretty low maintenance, I'd say. These hours of calm were long overdue and they were very soothing.

We surfaced in the evening for tea and snacks and popped out to the bookshops. We first went to Bookworm (?) in Shrungar Shopping Mall and I quickly made a side trip to the Auroville shop at the back to fondle their crocheted pretties. Yes, I'm aware I sound vaguely demented and have given up caring. Meanwhile the boys browsed.

Taking them to book shops is great fun. Rahul jumps around from aisle to aisle and alternates between exhilaration at new finds and absolute depression when he's not allowed to buy. all. the. books.

Beni quietly potters around finding books for himself and then settles down to leaf through them. Rahul is the reader I couldn't help and Beni is the 'reader' I haven't needed to help. So much for me and my determination to bring up readers! Let me just take a moment to ponder on how terrible parenting is for my ego.

After a room service dinner, we went to bed early too. I let the boys have the bed with Vicky and went to sleep in the large sofa in the sitting/dining space outside. I cannot tell you how lovely it was to just sleep and not worry about absolutely unimportant things. I woke up before them, which never happens, feeling pretty happy with life. You can see it on our faces, right?

Then the rest of the family woke up and we had breakfast and got ourselves tidied up. Sort of.

Then, since we were on MG Road and it was a Sunday morning, we checked out and went to the new Blossoms. (We had, of course, visited the old one the previous evening. We are thorough like that. We are also out-of-towners who make the most of visits to town.) We bought a bunch of books but at the checkout there was a family, also with two boys rather older than mine, who were buying a couple of cartons of books. I asked if they were buying for a library. The woman smiled and said no, it was all for them. They don't spend a lot, she said, but what they do, they spend mostly on books. I think I should have taken down their numbers so I could make friends and raid their library. We bumped into them once more at lunch in the little burger shop next door.

And that was the end of the little holiday. We drove back home, full of food and with bags of books. One little boy valiantly fought off sleep till he couldn't any more. It really was a lovely break.