Many years ago, I was shopping in Portland with a friend when she nudged me into a little boutique and, before I knew what was happening, I was standing in a room surrounded by whips and dildos.
"Don't worry," she said. "It's a feminist toy shop."
The experience was eye-opening, to say the least, and it served as the kernel of a humorous short story I wrote during grad school about a mom in a toy shop. I had fun writing it, but I didn't expect it to go anywhere. It had everything going against it: the protagonist was a mom (protagonists are children, or coming-of-agers, or elderly people looking back over their lives, or men of all ages and types; never moms); it was funny, and not even darkly funny; it was not the least bit tragic; it was not sic-fi, fantasy, horror, or speculative in any way; it was not weird and not hybrid and not experimental and not lyrical. In short, not the stuff of which literary magazines are made.
If Mom's Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers. From the editor:
"Mothers might be exhausted, over-touched and under-appreciated, but they’re problem solvers who know how to get their “self-care” on. In If Mom’s Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers, we hear from women waiting for their child’s arrival; mothers of infants, toddlers and teenagers; straight, queer, partnered and single mothers. We hear from mothers who like it vanilla and others who want some kink. They lust after their longtime partners and near strangers, in public and in private, alone or with another…or a few others. No matter where, when, or how, these stories capture the complex and profound–and ultimately satisfying–task of attending to your own desires while tending to children."
My story was still a humorous tale about a trip to a sex toy shop, not erotica, but I figured it was worth a shot and submitted. I heard back in short order from the editor, who liked the premise, liked the characters, liked the dialogue, liked the writing, but wanted me to turn up the heat a bit…okay a lot…to make it more erotic.
And I did, which was a lot more fun than I had anticipated (why had I anticipated writing sexy scenes to be un-fun? Let's blame a prudish Catholic upbringing, shall we?). So now my story, "Toy Story," is in good company with many other stories of sex after kids in If Mom's Happy, available for order now, just in time for Mother's Day. Not that I would recommend you buy a copy for your own mother, but there's nothing to say you can't get yourself a treat; after all, if Mom's happy, so is everyone else.