How I Learned To Feel Hot Again

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man and woman in kitchen
How one stay-at-home mom got her groove back.

Recently, my friend Catharine told me about a book her friend wrote based on her blog, "Formerly Hot"—a phrase, I thought, that aptly described me. Well, maybe "Hot" is a stretch. But after three kids and seven years of marriage, I'd come to categorize myself as "Formerly Good Enough."

It wasn't that I'd passed 40 like the blog and book author; it was that my tricks for attraction, like half shirts, no longer sat right on my newly pillowy midriff and had found a new home at Goodwill. My ability to be demure was supplanted by my desire for help, and a lot of it: bedtimes, night wakings, feedings and fits. I missed that raw chemistry that once had existed between my husband, Matt, and me. Why Married Sex Is The Best

Your chemistry is part of what pulls your desire for one another through those effects aging has on your body: the wrinkles, the grays, the slight bulge of baby fat time and exercise do nothing to shrink. But Matt and I knew too much of each other now. We brought so much into our shared moments: our hopes, our fears, our resentments and a slew of what ifs. We'd lost the ability to get lost in a moment, become over-swept by euphoria, allow some primal urge to bring our bodies together. I couldn't separate how I felt about Matt's parenting with how I felt about him. And some days I felt he saw an undone task list before he saw me. 10 Ways To Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

And then, one day, a friend gave me a picture she'd taken before I'd had a chance to wake up. In it, I wear an old sweatshirt that had belonged to my mother, and I'm eating out of a bowl while standing up. My hair is parted down the middle. I look awful. So horrible, in fact, I put it straight into my garbage. And stomped it down. 3 Secrets To Exuding Sexy

What she gave me was a snapshot of my life. I realized what bothered me weren't the physical aspects of my appearance in the photograph: the uncombed hair, the shapeless sweatshirt, the inability to sit down for a full meal while raising three children. Those are parts of yourself you show when living together. Unfortunately.

It was that I lacked energy, fire, focus, direction. I was worn down and run out. And I didn't know how to feel alive again in the most human of ways. Because I wasn't the person I was before children, physically or mentally. I'd shed those romantic notions of helplessness and vulnerability I'd had while single. But it's tricky to reinvent yourself while in a relationship; you can only hope your marriage is strong enough to sustain it.

First, I had to free myself, to realize it was okay to put myself first sometimes, that I had a right to life too. "Can you watch the kids tonight?" I'd ask Matt, slipping on earrings, off for a night out with girlfriends. Soon I started dressing better during oppressive Minnesota winters; thinking more; feeling engaged mentally even when I wasn't. As my peer group stretched, I got support, ears to listen, voices that identified; I didn't depend solely on Matt for validation or appreciation. And through that I found my voice.

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