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The Mother and the Whore

I thought my pregnancy was a nice indication of the blissful and content ride of motherhood that lay ahead. I was having a baby in my early twenties and taking the whole experience in my enthusiastic and dazed stride. Never did the concept of balancing my sexuality with motherhood ever become a passing thought, let alone the constant forethought in everything I would ever do after the birth of my inspiring and beautiful little girl. When she came the balancing act began.

Before I met my partner some would have labelled me as a “bohemian free-thinking party animal.” I was not sexually promiscuous but followed average trends of those who surrounded me. Creative folk with alternative ideas and lives, of struggling pasts they wished to forget to liberate themselves. I was a prime example of that. Moving out at 18 with little education and respect for conventional academia, I worked cash in hand jobs, stayed out all night, even squatting during financially dry spells.

I thought I was so bloody cool and for at least three of those years I was. Swimming in an ocean of acquaintances and alternative experiences, dare I say it? I was really living. My sexuality was the back bone of my personality, being a of Mediterranean decent my black hair and green eyes stood out in a sea of thin, blonde, chain-smoking ex-models and there where those men and boys who wanted to steer away from convention. I had my fun, I won’t lie.

Then motherhood came and demanded its presence and a whole new life-style. There was this little beauty in my arms who I couldn’t stop thinking about. Knowing the hypocrite inside, I was hoping this little girl was never going to run away and do everything I did. So  I began to cover up…completely.

I threw out all my pre-mama clothing and started again. I questioned every top, dress and skirt. I even started shying away from the beautiful colours that once coated my form. My partner who then became my husband hadn’t been allowed to touch me in weeks, which became months. I couldn’t explain what was going on in my own head. My body may have changed but it felt so wrong to love it. I became ashamed of the ‘me’ of old and started to talk negatively of my past experiences. I was lost, hopelessly and utterly drowning in a sea of self-loathing depression. I stopped going out and threw myself into my daughter’s world.

I was diagnosed with post natal depression and began taking a course of anti-depressants, the whole thing feeling wrong deep down in my gut yet somehow I was too weak to decline. I knew there was a deeper, truer reason for my frumpy and prudent new self, a level of myself that had never really tuned in before my breakdown.

I was routing in my wardrobe in December, we were packing up our things to move home when I was sorting through a pile of clothing that didn’t fit anymore. I found my old black ‘lucky skirt’. I held it and began to smile, thinking of all the amazing nights out, experiences, dates and even walls I had climbed over in this tube of Lycra. It was like opening a door into the past and all those wonderful feelings of joy came rushing back. My husband said he had never seen me smile like that in more than a year.

Why was I beating myself up over being a sexually confident singleton? Why wasn’t I bringing this old, happy me into my new and adventurous life as a mum? I had spent two years lost in my own loss of persona, drowning in frumpy clothes, complaining about how there was no place for me in motherhood, for my kind.

Growing up I had never seen my mum and dad kiss. They never expressed any affection in fact and went on to divorce when I was fifteen. I had discovered my sexuality completely away from the home, from the eyes of my family and never thought that one day I would have to create a family of my own with space for sexual acceptance.

The porn industry had their grubby hands on women too, sensationalising sex within motherhood and had created what has now become a well-known term MILF (Mother I’d Like to F***). This depicts mothers as bored and lonely housewives, weak in the ability to respect monogamy with no personal morals or values, also branding them as only mothers. Our modern society slates mothers of sexual promiscuity and accepts the male equivalent of this behaviour.

There I was after the birth of my daughter setting myself up for misery. Soaking up this constant and ridiculous notion of motherhood HAVING to be this Madonna figure, truly believing that my parents had it bang on target, and I was aiming for perfection. But it did not exist at home or in the big wide world. I believed too much of what I had seen with my own eyes and never stopped to ask myself what or who I was, and why was I giving myself away to other people like some sacrificial lamb.

I never accepted myself before I had my child.

The media, the unspoken expectation of parenthood thrust upon me in my early 20s well I really was a baby myself. I had never taken myself or my sexual personality seriously and with the sexism against women for expressing their sexuality within motherhood, it really did feel like the world was on my back.

I am happy to say that I am rediscovering my new-self every day. I go to sleep every night without beating myself up anymore for wearing a shorter skirt, or having the beautiful breasts which fed my daughter gently on show. The one thing I didn’t understand throughout my dark early beginnings in motherhood was that before you have a child your sexual being is about turning on the world… now I know how truly amazing my body is, I am turning myself on.

I hope my daughter reads this in the future and sees what a minefield it can be, being a woman who actually likes herself, flaws and all… but knows that the only way to make that more acceptable in our society is to accept every woman as an expression, like works of art to be admired.

She will always be my greatest work of art but together we make a great exhibition.

Christina Dempsey

(9th October 2014 copyright)

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