I hope this missive finds you well. (When you wrote to a chick in high school back in the hey days you always started your letter like that. The word “missive” was such a big word then, bigger than “quagmire.”) I’ve been in the middle of some exhaustive safaris; drives through barren land, early morning flights, late nights (I will tell you what happened to me in Baobab Diani at 2am) etc. Last night – in my unfailing wisdom- I went to this bar called the San Deck in Sandton and chapad three and a half doubles of whisky, the plan was to come back to my room and get some writing done but I was so knackered I dozed off in the car to the hotel. I staggered through my room with sleep and exhaustion grabbing my throat. A little voice in my head whispered, “Chocolate Man, let it go, sleep.” So I slept.
Suffice it to say, this week I won’t write. So I asked our very able foodie turned mother – Sophie Gitonga – to bang something to run something in place, and she did. Always showing up with tight copy, this one.
I will still be in safari pretty much whole of this week, but I’m doing mini-blogs (like those mini-burgers) on my Instagram and Facebook (check out bikozulu), so you can plug in there if you find a loose moment you aren’t filling with sensible stuff.
Otherwise how’s Nai? Where has the Standard Gauge Railway Project fikad? Er, I heard it rained jana. I step out for a minute and the bloody rain comes, ey? I love when it rains and the tarmack smells of earthy-steamy things. I could put my face on tarmac and ask for a pillow.
It’s 4:23am. I have to shower (it’s always advisable) and catch another flight out of here.
Yours, (not like literally, gents).
By Mama Pendo
Our kid at six months is fun…sometimes.
She’s an early riser, a trait I find perplexing since she doesn’t have a job she’s going to. She doesn’t have to be anywhere for the next 5 years but she’s already prepping for when she’ll need to be waking up at 6am. She lies in her crib for a while, kicking out her legs while talking or singing or communicating to the unseen world. Waiting for one of us to stir and come get her. She owns us. We lie in bed in complete denial, each of us feigning deep sleep. I nudge the good husband with my foot:
-It’s your turn to get her; I need 10 more minutes of sleep
-I can’t babe (his groggy reply, notice how he subtly uses the word ‘babe’, it’s a ploy and I fall for it every time). A mosquito kept me up last night.
-A bloody mosquito?! Your baby kept me up last night (I use this tactic of making the baby his and therefore his fault and therefore guilt-inducing)
-OK how about a coin toss, heads you get her, tails I get her?
I consider his proposal for a moment…this is bad, right? Resolving who will pick up the baby by a coin toss is tantamount to sin, isn’t it?
-No we can’t do that (I come to my senses) but if you get her, I’ll let you have your way with me. This time I promise!
There’s a story there.
No one tells you that sex after children might not measure up to sex before children. They are afraid that if they told you the truth that you’d opt out of the kid thing. And then the whole world would be like Japan – facing population decline and a high number of pensioners having to work until they practically die on the job. So I’ll do the selfless thing and tell you all about it.
Sex before kids is spontaneous, can happen anywhere, anytime. It takes a wink, a suggestive glance, and a sext to get you hot under the collar. It’s naughty and fun and obnoxiously loud. It’s careless and fearless and works really well when you’ve both agreed that you are not trying to have a kid and have taken the necessary precautions. At the end of it you feel rejuvenated, you could go speed walking; you have so much energy.
Sex after having children, particularly infants, goes a little like this:
-Hi babe (him with the magic word), I was thinking maybe tonight we could…
I know what he’s about to say so I cut him off
-I’m soooooo tired though. The kid has been cranky all day, she didn’t nap, she didn’t eat, she didn’t even poop, she wants to be held, I haven’t bathed, we have no bread, did you pay the elec bill, your mum called, also on Thursday I’d like you to take me to the mall (I’m a master deflector)
-Oh, it’s just that, you know it’s been six weeks since (he comes in with a sympathy rejoinder)
-I know sweetie so why don’t we plan it? How about tomorrow?
-I have that thing with my boys on tomorrow
-Ok let me see, how about Friday? My calendar is wide-open Friday
-Friday what time? I have that proposal I have to turn in
-No I mean Friday next week. This Friday I have that thing I’m doing that I haven’t yet told you about. We’ll make it quick
-Yeah, OK, that could work. Can you set a reminder on your phone?
And so Friday next week rolls around and it’s so mechanical. Before you’d rip your clothes off and let them fall where they please. But now you undress quietly and fold your clothes into neat piles. It looks like you are going in for a medical exam. You tiptoe around and make muffled screams because whoever’s screaming wakes the baby is responsible for soothing the baby. And when you are done you shake hands and say thank you. You check it off your list like another one of your chores:
Fuel the car, call Aunt Betty, pick up birthday cake, have sex, go to the salon
I commend the good husband for being supremely patient. It’s frustrating for a lot of guys navigating postpartum intimacy. You’ve just had the baby and while they are stitching you up and the embers from the congratulatory cigars are still smoldering, he’s probably thinking he’ll get you home, prop up your feet, get you a nice cup of tea and some take out and by the time his mother is leaving to go back to shags after her visit, you two could hit the sheets for a rematch.
What follows however is an unmitigated sex drought that could only be equaled if your partner had gone off to war and never returned. The reality is I’m tired a lot of the time and I want to cuddle only. And if he wants more than that I want to say to him, ‘go ahead without me, wake me when you are done’. I have the sexual enthusiasm of a wet fish. When it’s not fatigue it’s how I feel about my body. I used to look good naked, I prided myself in that. I could put it on my CV if it was socially acceptable to do that.
I’m a go-getter and team player, have great presentation skills and look good naked. Enclosed is a letter from my doctor confirming that last part.
I don’t feel that way present day. Yes I know a lot of it is in my head and I should be self-accepting and besides I just had a freaking baby. No small feat. But when my neighbour’s son came up to me and asked me when I was having my ‘next’ baby because I was still spotting a postpartum paunch, I wanted to slap him into next Tuesday.
I have these garish stretch marks snaking my body where once I had skin as elegant as Cleopatra’s. And what about my thighs? There’s so much friction between them I could start a bush fire, like one of those that burns for 75 days in Australia, devastating the whole place. Don’t get me started on the boobs.
So this one night I slept particularly hard and woke up in the middle of the night to find the bed wet. I had been slowly drip irrigating it with breast milk! I was mortified. I woke the good husband up to show him what had happened and I thought for sure he’d be divorcing me by sunrise. Instead he said not to worry, we could share his side of the bed. I learned two things that night: One, this my guy is the best in the world and Two, it pays not to have a fat husband because it makes bed sharing difficult when you do. So no, I don’t feel sexy and my libido is in the basement.
It’s not an easy fix and the subject is taboo. I don’t talk it over with my girlfriends because according to our social media posts, our sex lives are ravishing and would take quite a bit of alcohol for us to be honest about it.
In this economy, booze is not a priority. And I can’t talk about this with my mother because though I birthed a child, she should not know that I’m capable of, enjoy or even think about such carnal acts. She should imagine that the good husband and I hold hands while in bed and sing kumbaya until we fall asleep, like good Christians. I can’t use sex as a bargaining chip or a reward for good behavior either because it’s belittling and I’m pretty sure of this one, it’s tantamount to sin.
I turn to Google and lady magazines for tips, ideas or outright sorcery on how to rekindle the passion. One lady mag lists no fewer than ten tips on how to ‘reawaken the temptress’, TEN! Another states quite boldly and without shame “Top 40 sex positions for couples”. The sheer ridiculousness of that number. Half of these require an indemnity form because injury or death is assured if you attempt them. In the end, you only need to do two things, make yourself available to your partner and perch yourself seductively on the bed. And then do this frequently enough so that you are more than roommates who share meals, split the bills and mind the baby.
If this doesn’t work then there’s always the mganga kutoka Tanga who can help you with shida ya mapenzi