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The Curator of Sex on how making a baby blew her mind

The curator of the ‘Museum of Sex’ in NYC on the little surprises that transformed her life.

The Curator of Sex on how making a baby blew her mind

It was after a year of working with us that my babysitter finally realized that I am the Curator of the Museum of Sex. With our living room bookshelves filled with sex titles and my desk strewn with piles of purposefully NSFW content, I’m pretty impressed about how accepting and non-judgmental she was across the year, as she must have wondered what it was that my husband and I did for work while she watched our two small children. She knew I worked in a Museum, it never dawned on me to tell her which one.


Across the last decade I have worked at the Museum of Sex, starting at the age of 22, three months after graduating the preppy and privileged Connecticut College. It was August of 2004, and I would be starting a Master’s program in Anthropology that September at the New School. I had the whole world figured out, and grad school, I thought, was my first step toward becoming a beloved and mind-opening professor who teaches Anthropology 101 and summers with her family in exotic locales, living with indigenous tribes. I wanted to become the Iris Apfel of Anthropology.

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But as with all plans in our early 20s, the plans quickly changed. That August as I signed my first lease, for my first apartment, my boyfriend at the time wandered into the Museum of Sex. A few blocks away from the leasing office, Nick killed time at the museum, sent away as I knew the broker’s flirtations didn’t factor a boyfriend into the scenario. When the paperwork was sorted, I bounded with excitement to meet Nick, at a museum I had never heard of, and never knew existed —the Museum of Sex. As liberal and adventurous as I am, I was a little nervous. What in the world is the Museum of Sex?

Established in 2002, the museum had not even been open for two years when I first visited. “Dedicated to an uncensored discourse about sex and sexuality,” as the mission dictates, were words that held no meaning for me until I first walked through its doors that life-changing summer. Even then, with the museum still rough around its edges, figuring itself out as an institution and working through growing pains, I fell in love. While I didn’t know what to make of the contemporary art show on the ground floor, with a huge projection of a vagina, anthropomorphized with googly eyes and smoking a cigarette no less —the exhibition on the second floor, “Sex Among the Lotus: Three Thousand Years of Erotic Obsession” is what hooked me. A survey of sex in China, the exhibition, spread across two galleries, inspired me to pull my sketchbook from my bag to jot down quotes.

Is this what a museum could be? Fun and informative? Entertaining and educational? A few days later, I dropped my resume off at the front desk. You never know, right?

A few weeks later I began working at the museum, replacing the anthropologist researcher, who was off to do his fieldwork for his dissertation. Across the next two years I was promoted Assistant Curator and once I completed my Master’s, on the cusp of taking another job at a more traditional museum, I was offered the job of Curator. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I was feeling on top of the world, and at the time, I thought a proposal from Nick was right around the corner. But, like so many plans, that one was shortly going to fade away. I experienced my first official, gut-wrenching, almost faint on the subway because you forgot to eat out of sadness kind of heartbreak. I was 24, and a single “Curator of Sex” in New York City.

As you can imagine, with that title, I got a lot of attention across the bars and night clubs of New York City. In a city where, “what do you do?” is often asked before knowing someone’s name, my answer was a conversation starter, to say the least.

Still, those were not always the conversations I wanted to be having. Some people found it appropriate to tell me about every pornographic endeavor they forged and others incorrectly believed “curator” was actually a code word for sex worker. Not surprisingly, the one man who actually wished I had any other job in the world became my husband. After meeting by chance in a bar, and after a year of that dramatic, confusing, untenable, and maddening New York City dating, Jason, proposed to me at the top of Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles in November 2008. In September 2009 we were married in Marrakesh, Morocco surrounded by 100 of our closest friends and family. The next year, just around our first wedding anniversary, a Shiba Inu puppy named, She-ra, named after the beloved ‘80s cartoon warrior princess of the same name, joined our family. It felt like playing house and we celebrated that first anniversary sitting on the floor, drinking champagne, as our four pound pup ran and slid across the floor of our Tribeca apartment.

She-ra was the first step in creating the family I had always wanted and never had. Her affection also helped soften the blow each month I saw a negative pregnancy test.

As my husband and I were approaching the one-year mark of trying to become pregnant, I was starting to question my womanhood and my brand-new marriage.

I was only 28, I never imagined it would take that long to conceive. But after a girls weekend in LA, in which I felt like something just wasn’t right, I returned to New York on Valentine’s Day 2011 to finally see the positive test I always dreamed of.

Later that year, my son Kai was born, and his sister, Zia, joined us in 2014.

I am still the Curator of the Museum of Sex.

Now, I’m also a wife and now a mother.

The last few years of motherhood have been the most amazing, and candidly, the hardest of my life. With two difficult pregnancies, preterm labor scares and bed rest, followed by eight months of breastfeeding both children, I feel like only recently have I been able to stick my head out from the blur. I’ve tried my best to maintain glimmers of my pre-motherhood identity and simultaneously begin to craft a new one.

And as much as I know about sex, at least from a professional perspective, I never learned as much personally as I did the last few years through my pregnancies and motherhood (I’ve also never talked so much about my own vagina with near strangers).

As educated as I am on sex, I also realized how disconnected so many of us, myself included, have been from the information about baby-making sex, the awkward comical sex while pregnant, and navigation sexuality after this body-changing, life-changing experience. Like many of my life’s surprises over the last decade, I could never have predicted the impact becoming a mother would have on my total understanding of sexuality. Sex means new things to me now....pleasure as well as procreation, but also how I feel about myself, my partner and our relationship. As every parent knows, it’s also much harder to be romantic, let alone spontaneous, with a household of little people, schedules, exhaustion and “life.” Sex is an exciting, overwhelming, and complicated topic at all stages of life, but why is it that no one told me it would become even more so once becoming a mother?

The last three years have given me a deep understanding and reverence for motherhood. They’ve also helped me find the courage to realize that, if I can do this whole motherhood thing, I can do anything, even talk, think and write about sex —after baby.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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