Thanks to Erica Jong and her recent essay in the The Wall Street Journal, there’s been a lot of discussion lately about attachment parenting. My Strollerderby buddies Paula and Madeline had different takes on the provocative piece, though both agree that Jong seems to misinterpret AP and portrays it as something more regimented and less flexible than it really is.
Virtually everyone would agree that no parent should ever feel as if he or she has to be ever-present for their children. Adults must be allowed to be adults, even if it’s just for little spurts at a time.
But that still doesn’t mean you should sex up your neighbor while your kids are (probably not) asleep in the room down the hall.
Yet that’s the exact scenario which a reader presented Amy Alkon, aka the Advice Goddess, over the weekend. “Caught,” as Amy calls the woman, gets busted by her 10 year-old during a “naked foreplay session” she was having in her bedroom with the guy next door, then has the audacity to lay down the victim card. “I’m a divorced single mother and am entitled to a healthy sex life,” laments our naked-foreplay participant. She argues that she does not owe her son an apology. In fact, she worries that by giving him one, her kid will think she’s apologizing for sex, and the last thing she wants is for her son to think that sex is wrong.
How progressively selfless of her.
Caught also implies that her 10 year-old is the one to blame for the situation. After all, she reasons, she’s taught all of her kids to knock. And that’s hard for me to argue. But only because I have a difficult time arguing with super-ignorant people.
Sure, “Caught” is “entitled,” as she puts it, to an active sex life. Any responsible, single adult could say the same. Like, say, me for instance. When not so long ago, I fell in love with a single mom. Hmm. Come to think of it my now-wife had that same right, too.
Only here’s the kicker. Because we both love her daughter so much, there’s no way we would have ever done anything to confuse that little girl any more than she already was. We figured the divorce was enough. For that very reason, I was never positioned as anything more than a friend. I never stayed the night, or even darkened the doorway of Caroline’s bedroom, for that matter.
In the middle of our courtship it dawned on me. For the first time in my entire life, I was in a slow-moving, naturally evolving, long-term relationship in which I didn’t put my own needs first. Nor, for that matter, did I put my partner’s needs first.
Instead, I put the needs of a three-year-old little girl first. Her mom did, too, of course. And we’re not looking for a medal. It was the decent thing to do. Plus, we were smart enough to know that more appropriate windows would eventually present itself for physical activities, should that need ever, um, arise. Long before I was ever the father of triplets, or a stepdad to Pookie, I understood what a no-no hooking up in the house was. As great as the upside might be, it doesn’t hold a candle to how awful the downside is. So how is it that “Caught,” a real-live mom, doesn’t get it?
For the record, the Advice Goddess gets it. And, judging from her answer, I don’t think she’ll be hearing from “Caught” anytime soon. I certainly hope not, at least. What do you think? Should “Caught” offer up some type of apology / explanation to her son?
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