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As a mom with three kids under the age of 10, I feel like the word "no" has become my default answer to everything, whether to my kids (no, you can't have candy for breakfast!) or to myself (no, that bikini is not for you) or to my husband (no, not tonight, honey — I'm too tired, I have to get up too early, I have too much work to do...) — no, no, no. No has become too easy.

I needed to figure out how to start saying yes again, so I jumped at the chance to do something way outside my comfort zone: a trip to Desire, a clothing-optional, swinger-friendly resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. In other words: Yes to nudity, yes to sex, yes to confronting discomfort.

I was terrified. My husband and I have been together for 17 years and have always had a very healthy sex life. But wild nights at strip clubs in our 20s with double lap dances have morphed into running kids back and forth between school and sports clubs. Debauchery and going to places like Amsterdam have turned into early nights with books and wine. We have excuses: three kids. Work obligations. Responsibilities.

Once we got inside the gates of Desire (how metaphorical that sounds — yet, it's so literal) we expected everyone to be nude, but no one was. At least not in the lobby. They offered us Champagne, chocolate, and hats we would never be able to wear: "Desire: Let Your Imagination Run Wild." Imagine that at the PTA meeting!

The Champagne softened the edges and we quickly found ourselves to be the only people clothed while playing beer pong. And so we stripped to our bathing suits, trying to sink ping-pong balls into the red Solo cups of a naked couple. We won. Our prize was another set of hats: International Swingers hats.

"Where are you from?" a man covered in tattoos and wearing only a trucker hat asked me. We were from the Northeast — a place largely unrepresented at Desire. Most guests were from the Midwest and South, but we quickly learned they didn't want to talk to much about mundane personal stuff, even though everyone was nice and funny and oh-so-very drunk.

There were Jell-o shots and foam parties and breasts and penises everywhere the eye could see. We spent days like that. It felt like some kind of suspended adolescence, some throwback to our wild youth — with the freedom and trust that only comes with age.

It felt like some kind of suspended adolescence, some throwback to our wild youth — only, with the freedom and trust that only comes with age.

The resort had booked us an "erotic massage" as part of our experience. My husband, Rob, and I giggled with embarrassment as we checked the boxes asking the therapists not to touch my clitoris or vagina, and his scrotum and penis. At a nude, swingers resort, it's important to know your boundaries. At least that's what I learned from a couple in the hot tub (naked save for a hat that said "Monsanto") who explained the rules to us.

"You set your boundaries way ahead of time," they said. "Are you a soft-swap couple? A hard swap? What's OK? What isn't."

We were, firmly, a no-swap couple, meaning we wouldn't be having sex with other people. But still, being surrounded by people so wild and free with their bodies while also being around each other was a huge turn-on.

I'm the mom who spends my time at the neighborhood pool in shorts and a cover-up, hiding my body. I abandoned my bikinis after baby no. 2 and now wear one-pieces and wide brimmed hats. Part of it is practicality — who wants to run around after a toddler in such flimsy bits of fabric? But it's also something more: My body wasn't what it was in my 20s. But I am a marathoner and a yoga instructor. I don't hate my body, but there is a sense of shame that surrounds me, a series of rules about what a mom in her late 30s should and shouldn't do. I'm surrounded by it. All the moms in my neighborhood live by it. There's a code of ethics by which we dismiss anything deemed "sketchy." Showing off your body is sketchy.

Somewhere between the playdates and PTA meetings and the one-pieces, I'd lost the sense of myself as a sexual being. I'd forgotten that I could be or do anything I want regardless of what the playground moms think of me.

And so I took off my top. "What's next?" Rob asked.

I took off my bottoms. It wasn't about the sex. It was about the sense of freedom, the sense of ownership over my body. The sense of yes. Yes to another margarita. Yes to checking fewer boxes on the form the second time we got the massage. Would I be judged? Not here.

We learned where our edges are too. Yes to nudity. Yes to an overflowing hot tub and too much Champagne. But no to the after-hours hot tub where things got a little too wild for us. No to the "play room" and the sex swing where sex was a group effort and marriage was only a piece of paper. We pushed our boundaries and danced on the edge, but we did it together, and thereby grew as a couple.

"I feel like we went to war together," my husband joked on the plane ride home as we held hands and leaned our heads against each other. And maybe it did feel a little like that. We'd spent a week seeing things we'd never seen before. We burned our skin in places that had never seen the sun before. We went home early when the party got too out of hand and giggled hysterically at what we'd seen the night we'd gone to the clubs after hours. We didn't change our lives or become swingers. We didn't do anything we regret. But we did step outside our comfort zones, so far from our nice house and grocery store and neighborhood pool and PTA meetings.

When we got home, the kids were waiting and we gave them all the little (appropriate!) pieces of jewelry and toys we'd bought. Our clothes felt heavy on our bodies and when we got to our bedroom, we shed them right away.

"It feels right to be naked," Rob told me.

I areed,

SOURCE: redbook.com

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