Two years ago, my then second grade daughter came to me with a burning question. One of her friends had introduced her about a new word.
THE word. The word that no mother wants her second grader to hear from a friend. But she had. She was so uncomfortable asking me that she couldn’t even say the word. She just spelled it.
And I almost fell out of my chair. But I didn’t. There was no time to be squeamish. No time to run and hide under the covers and refuse to accept that my baby would eventually have to grow up. That just wasn’t an option. I was a mother. Her mother.
I was happy that she had come to me. I had always told her that she could talk to me about anything. And I meant it. I believe that communication is the key to the parent/child relationship. And every relationship.
It is vital that I arm my daughter with the knowledge that she needs. Growing up is even harder now than when I did it. I do not envy her.
So I explained to her in a simple, appropriate way what sex was. She listened carefully, not really sure what to think. It made her nervous and uncomfortable. Yet also a bit relieved to hear it from me.
Her friend had given her bad information. Which made me feel a little better. There was still some innocence left in second grade.
So as I usually do, I started over thinking things. My mother never really had the talk with me. What if I wasn’t doing it right?
So the next day I bought three books for myself on talking to your kids about sex and two for her. One was:
and the other was:
If you have a daughter get the American Girl book. It is like the handbook to puberty and beyond.
We read the first book together. Then I gave her the body book and asked her to read through it.
She read it, cover to cover. She asked me a couple of questions. Then simply tucked it away. Apparently age appropriately satisfied.
Until this past weekend that is. Two years later. When she stumbled across the body book again. You see this time, she was older and not as easily satisfied. She had questions.
She read the section on breasts development. She showed me her chest and demanded that I agree with her that she was in stage two of growing….gulp….breasts. There are five stages by the way. I have breasts and I didn’t know that.
She read about taking care of your hair, nails and skin.
She read how one day she would have hair on her body that she would probably want to remove. She asked if I would teach her how when the time came.
She read how bodies come in all shapes and sizes. And how proper nutrition is important.
She read how no girl could feel her best with cigarette smoke, alcohol or drugs in her body.
She read that her body is hers and she has the right to keep it private from anyone-family, friend or stranger, and that uncomfortable touches are not okay.
She read that kindness matters. Be kind to yourself and others.
I know all of this because after every section she came to talk to me about what she had read. I made sure she knew that her happiness and health meant as much to me as my own.
We were so giddy. I am pretty sure we were playing Ring Around the Rosie. Or skipping. Or something. Growing up was going to be carefree…..
She got to the section on menstruation.
From the look on her face anything that I had ever told her in the past on the topic had obviously not registered. Until that very moment.
She asked me a hundred questions. Why? WHY? WHY? How do you do this? How do you do that? Is there any way around this?
I told her that becoming a woman was a beautiful thing. Periods are important. One day maybe she would choose to become a mother. And that is worth it all and so much more. She would learn to embrace it one day.
I actually got her to see the bright side. I think.
Then she read in the book that a period lasts two to eight days.
AND then I broke to her that it was two to eight days, EVERY SINGLE MONTH. For 35 or 40 YEARS.
And that was the exact moment that we stopped discussing the book. She ran from the room screaming. She does have a flair for the dramatic.
Then I sat there alone. Just as afraid as she was about periods, I was equally afraid of not doing this whole mothering thing right.
At one time she needed me to feed her, change her and rock her to sleep.
Nine years later she needs me to be here for her, answer her questions and listen to her fears.
Just as she is learning to be a woman, I am learning to be a mother of a daughter who is slowly becoming a woman.
I feel pretty good about our talk. She knows that I am here for her. She is my oldest child. She is my learning curve.
We will get through this thing together.
My hope is that one day she will be a happy, well-adjusted, caring, compassionate, strong and intelligent woman. In spite of her menstrual cycle.
And hopefully I will be able to look back and say that I did the best that I could for her. Not perfect. But pretty good.
And finally one day when they put me in the ground, my hope is that I have loved her enough, to last her for the rest of her life.
We got this Baby Girl.