Last Sunday, my 5-year old daughter was at her nonna’s for the afternoon and my husband and I had the house to ourselves, which doesn’t happen too often. I was sitting outside watching the dogs play in the yard when P stuck his head out the door and gave me a wink and a nod. As enticed as I was by the thought of afternoon sex, part of me dreaded the idea. Because, you know, it was daylight. Bright, unforgiving daylight.
To provide some perspective, I am 50 years old, and I need to lose between 30 and 40 lbs. Thirty to feel like my old sexy self again and 40 to be smokin’ hot and insufferable. I’ve been trying to lose this weight for a while, and being in full-blown menopause and unable to shed the pounds has been a near-constant source of frustration and disappointment for me for the last several years.
So given my bottom-scraping self-esteem, I should be delighted that my husband finds me sexy enough to want a little midday action, right? Truthfully I am, I just wish the idea had come to him after dark, when I was safely hidden under the bedsheets and had more control over the lighting in the room. But I have to capitalize on his winks and nods, so off to the spare bedroom we trotted.
I’ll spare the lurid details but suffice to say that several minutes and a playful striptease later, I was staring at a sidelong image of my naked self in the dresser mirror, with no filters or retouching. But instead of the shame and revulsion I expected, my reaction was…“Huh. I don’t look so bad.” I looked again. And then another time. Yes, I have a roll at my waist that I wish wasn’t there. But I still look curvy and sexy. Yes, I have a pouch of a tummy, but really, it’s not nearly as gigantic as I see it on most days. I wish everything about me was leaner and tighter, but what I saw in the mirror was something I hadn’t seen in myself for a long time—a sensual, desirable, naked woman.
Also read: Sex after midlife is a blast
I don’t know why that Sunday was the day for my self-affirming moment. Nothing has changed lately, physically or emotionally, that would point to me feeling better about myself. I’m still dieting, and frustrated at the lack of results. I’m still struggling with a husband I wish were more affectionate and communicative. I’m still surrounded by younger, skinnier, more energetic moms when I hang out with my daughter’s preschool crowd. All the triggers that make me feel old, fat and unattractive are still here, as unbudging as that first 10 pounds…
Yet I can’t overstate how much that double-take in the spare bedroom mirror gave me a shot of self-esteem at a moment when I desperately needed it. And I thought of all those women out there who are trying to lose that tummy pouch or roll at their waist, who look in the mirror and don’t see the same sexy gal they saw 20 years ago, or who, like me, dread getting naked with their partner when the lighting isn’t in their favor.
Guess what? You look better than you think you do. A lot better. Stop worrying so much about how you look, and start enjoying the partner next to you (or underneath or on top of you, as the case may be) who finds you sexy, give you a wink and a nod and doesn’t give a damn whether it’s high noon or after midnight. Enjoy being desired and enjoy being desirable.
I’m still trying to lose weight. I’m still trying to convince my husband to go to therapy to improve our marriage. And I just ordered a hundred dollars’ worth of skin care products when I clicked on the Sephora website “just to look.” I know myself well enough to know that I would feel better physically and mentally if I got rid of at least some of my excess weight. And if I felt better about myself I’d likely feel better about my marriage and quite possibly approach my husband with an improved frame of mind. But in the meantime, if the occasion strikes for a little afternoon romp while the kid’s at her nonna’s, I won’t hesitate to join in the fun, mirror or no mirror.