It's (Almost) Mother's Day. So We Asked Mums And Grans For Sex Advice, Obviously
The Debrief: YES, mums have sex too. Jeez...
Some of my most valuable life lessons have come straight from my mum. From the big stuff like how to be independent to the little but no less memorable things: always carry tissues in your handbag; don’t make big decisions when you’re feeling hormonal; a G+T tastes better when there’s more gin than tonic.
Sex advice is a different kettle of fish though. Short of a few conversations when I was younger, which usually ended in me storming out in a huff shouting, ‘GOD, Mum, I know what a CONDOM is!’ any discussion of sex has been peppered with jokes in which we both pretend that she doesn’t understand what a blowjob is. But that’s pretty odd, when you think about it.
Assuming that I, at the age of 30, know more about sex than my own mother, is like pretending I had nailed my booze tolerance when I was only 18. While it’s often tough to think about your own parents having sex, extending that to the belief that once you have children your sex life grinds to a miserable halt is laughably naïve.
Prabha Nair has been married to her husband for over 50 years. Her son introduced me to her when he heard I was writing this article, explaining that at her Golden Wedding celebrations, she told the gathered friends and family the secret to a good relationship: communication, humour, and great sex.
Prabha explained: ‘I didn’t mean the Fifty Shades type. I meant sex with love, understanding compassion and romance. I think the good old days of romance and permanency in relationships is almost gone. A shame really!’
I’m a sucker for romance, even if my own relationships have flicked between ‘seems permanent but I don’t want to speak too soon’ and ‘shorter than a Netflix box set’. And because of our reluctance to accept that our parents have sex too, I feel like we often write off the romantic and sexual advice that our mums and grandmas could pass on.
Don’t worry though, while it might be awkward to ask your own parents about their sex life, it’s totally fine to ask other people’s. So I went in search of great sex advice from mums and grandmas – asking them about their own sex lives, and gathering their top tips on how we can be better at sex. And dammit, it turns out that they’re just as wise about sex as they are about everything else.
Jude – if you feel sexy, you ARE sexy
Jude was thrown pretty quickly into motherhood – getting together with her other half in her early 20s, she became instant stepmum to three girls.
‘I had a pretty free and quite wide-ranging sex life up to that point, but once children were involved in my day-to-day life there was less shagging on the kitchen floor. One of the girls literally shared our bed, too, for the first couple of years, so our sex life had to sometimes be quite sneaky (like creeping out to the bathroom in the middle of the night when we both felt horny).’
Now she’s become a grandmother, she feels that her sex life with her partner is actually freer and more spontaneous than it was before.
‘We’ve now been together over 20 years, and there’s just the two of us at home, so we know what we want/like/what works for us, and we have the freedom to do it! On weekends, that is; we’re not animals.’
Jude’s top sex tips
Everyone just makes it up as they go along. Experiment as much as you’re comfortable doing, if you’re with someone you feel safe with.
If you feel sexy, you ARE sexy.
If it’s consensual, and it gets you off, don’t feel guilty.
‘TM’ – I get called a MILF now
TM lives with her partner of 25 years, and a 15-year-old daughter who really wishes her parents didn’t still have sex. She reckons being with the same person for a long time changes things far more than having children does.
‘Communication gets better, you can laugh at misfortune (like the baby crying mid-shag) and generally, are more relaxed with each other. Often this means you feel safer to try new stuff too. I’m not sure if other people see me differently because I’m a mum. I’m still flirty, I still do things on my own, I still get offers on Twitter. I get called a MILF now... And a cougar. I’m happy with that!’
TM’s daughter has already had a lot of sex ed – they’ve done the basics like condoms and safety, as well as had more nuanced discussions about things like 50 Shades. I asked her what she’d most like her daughter to understand about sex.
‘I’d like my daughter to know that sex is nice between people that love each other. That it’s fun, that there should be laughter, and that it’s OK to like weird stuff or not like weird stuff.’
TM’s top tips
Plan time to be together. She explained that, when you have children, planning time becomes more important. ‘It might sound a bit cold (and I loathe the phrase date night) but planning time means you can get sleep other nights and both be awake at the same time! You might have less sex but it can still be great sex.’
Don’t be afraid to try new things. When you have children you are a grown up, but you are still you – have fun!
Sarah Jane – don’t be afraid to use sex toys
Sarah Jane lives with her wife and four-year-old son, and says that while her feelings about sex have changed over time, it’s down to maturity rather than motherhood.
‘As far as how others see me, I don’t think the “seeing mums as sexual beings” thing is as taboo as it once was, but I do think there are “levels of sexual appropriateness” that society can assign people, with mothers being on the lower rungs, unfortunately.’
Sarah-Jane’s top tips
Don’t be afraid to use sex toys. At the end of a day full of toddler wrangling, I still want that orgasm but I don’t want to spend half an hour of intercourse to work up to it. Get those vibrators out and enjoy a lazy orgasm every so often.
Sex and relationships are super complicated parts of your lives that will constantly evolve and change. Don’t think that you’ve got the whole ‘sex’ thing down pat by age 20.
For mothers like her, she advises taking your cue from your child’s sleep routine: ‘While babies are constantly changing their sleep cycles, I’m lucky enough to know that my four-year-old tends to wake up at certain times, so I’m able to “coordinate” my sex around that.’
Judith – young men are not the superior beings they think they are
‘There’s a perception that grandparents are people who sit and knit or hand out Werther’s Originals and don’t have sex. Quite, quite wrong,’ explains Judith, who has a 32-year-old daughter and a one-year-old granddaughter. ‘Mind, that’s also the perception of anyone over 60.’
I asked Judith what she’d like her granddaughter to learn about sex – by the time she reaches 20, which valuable lessons does she think are important? Her answer touches on a lot of things that I wish I’d known during my early relationships:
‘I’d like my granddaughter to be able to respect herself as a young woman, and be prepared not to accede to demands that she doesn’t want to. I’d like her to recognise that young men are not the superior beings they think they are, and she doesn’t have to do what they want if she isn’t comfortable about it.
‘Most of all, I’d like her to see herself as a whole person, mind, body and spirit, not as someone whose identity starts and stops with her physical appearance or sexual appeal.’
Judith’s top sex tips
Communicate, with humour.
Be prepared not to believe all the rubbish you read on the net or in mags about having to try all sorts of daft positions (we have).
Laugh – a lot. Sex is very funny... and humour is very sexy.
One of the things I was most surprised by when having these chats was the focus on much bigger picture stuff. Like a strident teenager asking Mum about my A-level choices, I think I set out looking for straightforwards answers. Sex tips, techniques and the kinds of things you’d find in magazines. But as Jude explained:
‘Sexual relationships can be one of several things: either the actual best and most miraculous and glorious thing in the world, or a slightly disappointing mess. But they’re such a significant part of being human that they should just be faced with honesty and openness and optimism, head on.’
In short, when it comes to sex – it’s not what you do that’s important, it’s the way that you do it.
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