My oldest daughter turns 14 this year. I lost my virginity exactly one month after my 14th birthday. Guess who’s nervous. I don’t know about all mothers, but one of my greatest fears is that my children will repeat my mistakes. I led a very “lesson-filled” youth. And I’ve held on to those lessons so I can hopefully guide my daughters in such a way so that they will circumvent all the “tests” I had to go through. I realize that this is not up to me, but as I mentioned in my post last week, I have control issues, okay? So I’m working on it. I’m trying to learn to let go. I’m pretty much forced to let go. My firstborn lives in another state with her father and stepmother, and although I really get down about us not being together, I believe that the distance has strengthened our relationship. When I lived there, I was the hard-ass mom who was always pushing, always trying to control. Being away has forced me to relinquish some of that control and just guide. It has done wonders for our communication. We talk a lot, mostly about boys and school, but in general, we talk about life, the type of person she wants to be, how to maintain her inner light when people around her are trying to dim it, and so on.
Now that she is “that age” I’ve really begun to think about how to talk to her about sex in a way that is age appropriate but not too explicit, which I am known to be sometimes – we were Skyping the other day and I told her I had to take a shit. Yeah, I’m that mom. We’ve always talked about sex, probably since she was around 5 or 6, but now is the time to really get down to business. I’ve decided to be as open and honest as possible about the issue. I’m a very sexual woman, so I can’t/won’t lie and say that sex is bad and gross and doesn’t feel good. Although I’m very much a believer in waiting until the time is right, and the person is right (I’m going through my own sex sabbatical now, but that’s another post for another day), I won’t spout the “no sex till marriage” thing, because it’s not something I believe in, and frankly, it doesn’t work. I won’t hide my past from her, or try to lead her to believe I was a saint until I met her father and then again until the birth of her baby sister (who has a different father, so that whole “saint” thing really wouldn’t work).
I had no one to discuss sex with when I was a teenager. No one except my friends who were just as clueless and hormonal as I was (remember that phrase, “young, dumb and full of cum”? yeah). So here I am, trying to be the parent I wish I’d had, without dumping my own personal issues on my kid. Will it work? Who knows? My three rules/hopes/mantras for my girls: Be your own woman, don’t get pregnant (preferably ever, or at least until after 30), and travel the world. If one of them turns out to be a lesbian (I see hints of it in the baby), I’ll be even happier, but sticking to these three goals – it just helps me sleep. Don’t judge me.
How do you raise a young black woman to take sexual ownership, responsibility and pride in her body, in her womanhood, in a world where women’s bodies, minds and spirits are constantly attacked and devalued? It seems as if all the things I’ve read from Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, and bell hooks have completely left me. I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m freaking the hell out. But I am determined to be an open source of information, reference, guidance, and understanding. I’ve let her know that the door is always open and I’m always willing to talk and share, and what I don’t know we’ll find out together. And maybe I’ll revisit some of that bell hooks with her. I guess that’s all I can really do….