When A Child Witnesses Their Parents, Um, “Doing It”


As a Mom of two kids, I have a lot of fears: earthquakes, illness, death…that’s just the tip of the iceberg…oh, and ICEBERGS! They’re melting! But my WORST fear as a parent is that one of my kids will walk in while I’m having sex with my husband. I mean…when have you ever heard someone say, “And then my life really took a turn for the better when I walked in on my parents ‘doing it!’”?

It should be noted that I had been asking my husband to put a lock on our bedroom door for months. MONTHS! He finally bought the lock over a month ago…of course then his electric drill broke (I know…the irony kills me too), so the lock has been sitting on top of a dresser that my husband insists on calling a “credenza.” I will admit that I may have used that lock (or lack thereof) as a reason to NOT have sex. And I will also admit that some nights, I have gamed it out until he’s almost asleep before saying “let’s have sex!” because I know he’ll be too tired…and then I can say next time that HE suggests we have sex that I’m now the one who’s too tired, and “Hey, I suggested it last time!”

Photo Credit: Awkward Family Photos

But on one rare and fateful Saturday night, the stars aligned and my husband and I had The Sex. And that was when I realized that there is no sound you want to hear less post-orgasm than your husband casually greeting your 8-year-old daughter…who has been standing in the doorway for an as yet undisclosed amount of time. My husband says I screamed “OH MY GOD!” and threw on my clothes, but I have no memory of that because I was too busy being blinded by images of her future therapy sessions: 23-year-old Gemma saying things like, “And that’s why I’ve always had a terrible relationship with sex and suffer from raging intimacy issues,” or “That’s why I became a nun.” Or the worst case scenario: “And that’s why I still live at home at 45.”

Look, I know this has happened to a lot of people. And I know it’s not the end of the world. But do I wish it hadn’t happened? Yes. And do I wish I had handled it better i.e. NOT Mom-splaining to my daughter that “sometimes mommy and daddy just like to playfully wrestle before they go to sleep”? Yes.

Of course my husband fell asleep immediately. I was wired and freaked out, so I sent a blast of texts out to my closest mom friends — I had to share my traumatic story and my terrible parenting. I needed some mom-pathy and some validation that my daughter would be okay. But the response I received was…unexpected:

“Wait, you were having sex with your husband?”

“Was it your anniversary?”

“You had sex with your husband in your own bed? As in not hotel sex?”

“Wow! You still have sex with your husband!” (A shocked emoji face.)

And if I’m being honest (which I am), I probably would have reacted similarly had the shoe been on another mom’s foot.

The reaction from my mom friends—who were both joking and serious and (some awkward place in between)—proved I was focusing on the wrong fear: it shouldn’t be the fear of my daughter walking in on us having sex, (though my husband now knows he’s not getting laid again until that lock goes on our door and/or we go to a VERY nice hotel without our children), my fear should actually be the repercussions of taking my partner and our relationship for granted. He is my best friend. I love him. I love him so much that I feel totally comfortable ignoring our relationship as we get caught up in our busy lives which seem to focus mostly on taking care of and protecting our kids.

Photo Credit: Awkward Family Photos

Gemma hasn’t brought up “the incident” since it happened last week which means she either a) has repressed it to a deep, dark place which she will only uncover years later in hypnotherapy after I’m long dead (here’s hoping!) or b) she really didn’t see that much — it was dark and we would have noticed her if she had come in earlier, right? RIGHT?!

So, ironically, as traumatizing as the experience was (for me obviously), it has also been a wake up call to pay attention to my relationship with my wonderful husband (who is so supportive that he is actually okay with me sharing all this embarrassingly personal information with the world)…now, if he would just put that lock on the door, he might get to see some wrestling moves other than the sleeper hold.

Jordan Roter is a published author, and TV/Feature writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and two kids. You can follow her on Twitter at @JordanRoter