Saturday, June 17, 2006

Something My Parents Got Right

I am so thankful for my mother.

I was almost 13 when I got my period for the first time. I was over at a neighbour's house with my brothers and my dad. However, it was okay because I knew right away what was going on. I didn't think I was dying or deathly ill. I knew that I had just made the transformation from girl to woman, and I knew because my mother had told me all about it long before.

I didn't realize that some girls still, in this day and age, weren't warned. I didn't realize that some girls are left in fear, thinking that they are bleeding to death and too ashamed to tell anyone that they are bleeding 'down there' because privates are such a taboo thing to talk about.

That seems medieval in my mind. It's wrong. It turns something that should be beautiful and celebrated, a rite of passage, into a time of fear and shame.

My father bought me a yellow rose when I first got my period, to mark that I was now a woman. It was a time of shy celebration. It was recognized and respected.

It grieves me to know that not every girl has such a beautiful memory of that overwhelming transformation.

My parents were equally upfront when it came to explaining sex to me. I have never had a question that either of them couldn't answer. My mother handled most of the explaining, but there were questions that my father answered, with hardly any hesitation. I am beginning to realize how difficult that must have been for them both, and especially my dad, but it taught me that I can ask any question and get an honest answer. It taught me that my body is not something to be ashamed of, that sex is sacred and joyful. I think it gave me a much healthier view of sexuality. I think that makes it easier for me to set boundaries now, because I'm coming from a place of knowledge and not a place of fear.

I've heard stories of Christian kids who never thought they would stumble in their sexuality and who ended up pregnant. I've heard stories of kids who never thought it would happen to them and then weren't prepared to deal with the rush of everything that interacting with the opposite sex can be. I'm so thankful that my parents were so honest with me. They told me that you think it will never happen, and then you get carried away. They told me that everyone is capable of anything. They encouraged me to make my own decisions, to think through my own choices and accept the consequences and responsibility.

And I wouldn't have known how extraordinary my parents are unless I had talked to my friend, who wasn't told anything about her body or sex by her parents and had to figure things out on her own.

I thank God for the parents He gave me. They aren't perfect - but they did get some stuff very right.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. I feel like I can walk into this new thing called dating with both eyes open because of you.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, that yellow rose. I'd forgotten about that until I read this. I'm so thankful for some of these things that we did get right, and thanks to you also for your part in this, some of those questions were difficult to answer, but the asking, and answering has had a significant impact on my personal growth too.
Love your heart, my dear. Pa.

bobbie said...

my husband and i were actually talking about this (your mom told me about it on the phone one day) and i asked if we could honor our daughter's day as your parents did yours.

i loathed my period for decades until one day (watching oprah - ha!) she talked about how embracing it as part of being female and fertile allowed for rhythm in our lives. i also read the 'red tent' and it was incredible to help me understand that it should be a time of female bonding and creativity instead of loathed and abhorred like so many of us do (have done).

it's so wonderful we can learn from each other's successes and even mistakes. beauty and pain are such great teachers.