Studying the woman at the bar, I was shocked sheâ€™d ask me such a personal question. After all, weâ€™d just met. I was waiting for my girlfriend to arrive at the Los Altos Grill when this stranger plopped herself on the barstool next to mine. And, as women do, we began to chat about kids, being single parents, and making it in this world without a partner. We barely got to exchanging names when she hit me with a zinger.
â€œWhen was the last time you were intimate with anyone? You, know, had sex?â€ she asked, eyebrow raised as she brought her glass of Chardonnay to her lips. â€œI couldnâ€™t wait to get after it the minute my husband left me. And boy, have I had fun.â€
Taken aback, I, too, brought my drink to my mouth. But not just for a sip. Instead, I wanted to swallow the contents in one gulp. How did one answer such a question?
My husband and I had divorced twenty years before, and while Iâ€™d a couple of short-lived relationships, most of that time was spent getting my four kids out the door (in one piece) to lives of their own, and caring for my aging parents, especially my dad. For nine years, monitoring his health with endless doctor visits and changing adult diapers never made me feel sexy. I gave up trying to find a companion. As of 2021, itâ€™s been nine years since Dadâ€™s passing, and with so much time gone by, I wouldnâ€™t even know where to begin trying to date again.
Staring at my glass, I said the only thing I could think of: â€œItâ€™s been a while.â€
When we think of intimacy, our minds immediately go to sex. Letâ€™s face it, how much more intimate can two people be than with sweating bodies wrapped around each other in the heat of passion? But there are other ways to be intimate too, such as allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable with a close friend or loved one. For me, the greatest and most profound intimate moment in my life was giving birth.
Bringing a child into this world has a deep effect on both the mother and father. Thereâ€™s an excitement around knowing your family is now one bigger, and that thereâ€™ll be an extension of you to carry on long after youâ€™re gone. A child also brings the opportunity for parents to right all the wrongs felt in their own youthâ€”a chance to do it better. For me, it went much deeper. I felt connected and deeply in love with each of my four children long before we even met.
Being pregnant left me with the sensation that a miracle was happening hidden within. As their little bodies grew, vastly changing the topography of my abdomen, I knew life would no longer be just about me, but about dreams intertwined. Their visions would become mine. Becoming a mom wasnâ€™t just an overwhelming experience, but an extremely spiritual one as well.
Raised by devout Catholics, I understood religion. I knew the laws and sins of the Catholic faithâ€”what to do and not do. I was raised to live a good and compassionate life because of Christâ€™s teachings. When becoming a mother, I saw that I was being called upon and blessed by a higher power to care for a precious soul. As the years progressed, I wouldnâ€™t be just their mom, but their teacher, helping them to find their true purpose in this world. And, from the moment they wiggled their precious, tiny bodies out of mine, for the rest of our livesâ€”good or badâ€”weâ€™d be tethered to one another. Iâ€™d forever be their mom, and they my child, no matter what age we became.
Today, I believe Iâ€™m a stronger version of the woman I was born to be because of my kids. From the moment they entered this world, I instinctively knew I couldnâ€™t live a static life, but that change would become my operative word. Iâ€™d have to be the one to roll with the joy and punches their development would bring. Iâ€™ve grown because of them. Iâ€™ve lived a life much richer than I ever imagined because of them. And because for forty years weâ€™ve held the dearest space in each otherâ€™s heart, I feel honored to be a mom.
Looking once again at my new inquisitive friend, I smiled. â€œActually, I take that back,â€ I began, happy to share. â€œIâ€™m intensely intimate everyday with four incredible people. Sometimes one at a time. Sometimes all together. Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s something far more special. We love to get after life, and like you, boy, do I have fun.â€
When was the last time you felt truly intimate with someone? Oh, you don’t have to share, but it’s worth thinking about.