It was 1984, and I was about to turn thirty, when I began to recognize that the fantasies of spanking and discipline echoing through my brain and body actually had something to do with sex. And that I was not the only person in the world who had fantasies like that. And that if I could find the right people, we could enact those fantasies.

I’m sure that sounds hilariously obvious now. But the innocent child of the suburbs I was back then had no access to books or movies or workshops that might have opened my eyes. By the time I figured all this out, I was married to a guy I’d met in college, and we had two growing boys.

I’ve told the story of our breakup elsewhere, so I won’t go into the gory details. What’s important is that, for the first time in my adult life, I was single. So at the same time as I was trying to raise my sons (my ex and I had joint legal and physical custody), I was trying to figure out how to live what would now be called a sex-positive lifestyle. I came out: first as kinky, then as polyamorous, then as bisexual, then as genderqueer. I started writing and publishing books about all of those topics, and I gained a small measure of fame from them.

This book is the story of how I combined those processes.

I want to say right now that I am not presenting myself as a good example. I fucked up so, so many times. Sometimes it worked out in spite of me, and other times it didn’t. And I’m sure that if you asked my sons Miles and Ben, now grown and headed toward midlife, for a list of their greatest Mom-related traumas, they’d cite events that are almost entirely different from the ones I recount here. (A parenting truism: The things you do that you think will land them in a therapist’s office will probably have made no difference at all, and the things they experience as major traumas will be things you’ve completely forgotten about.)

So this book [and this blog JH] is emphatically not a how-to book on sex-positive parenting (although I really, really wish that someone would write such a book). It’s simply a record of the mistakes, regrets, successes and rewards of one woman and two boys, growing up together.

Janet W. Hardy, July 2020

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