So, Hope and I have been talking a lot this last week. And by a lot I mean, so much that I could kill a bottle of wine each night after our chats.
As I’ve mentioned on occasion the Constitution of the Sovereign Queendom ABM provides Hope limited privacy rights. I mean, clearly, she has a door on her bedroom and bathroom and I don’t routinely rifle through her things. That said, if something is fishy, I maintain a benevolent monarch’s right to have all the tech passwords and access to all messages without question. I have only needed to exercise my right to invade on one or two occasions prior to last week.
This most recent episode was triggered by super shady behavior by Hope, and her dying need to tell me about what was going on but knowing that she probably shouldn’t. So, at dinner one night, Hope rambled on for 30 minutes some disjointed story that included no names, some “friends,” lots of giggle and teen angst and just all kinds of boring yet fishy details. It was hard to follow, but I picked up enough to know that I needed to exercise my rights to start logging into some accounts for some late night reading.
And so I did.
And then I needed to lay down, so it was good that I was already in bed because what I read would make any good Southern woman need to take to her bed.
It was super clear that me and Hope were in serious need of a chat about grown lady issues.
I reached out to a few close friends, worked through some of my emotions and gathered some useful advice and steeled myself for what I hoped would be a casual, non-confrontational, supportive chat about sex. A chat that would be followed by me taking several shots of whiskey in the privacy of my bathroom as a part of my recovery plan. This wouldn’t be our first chat about sex, but it would be the first time that we needed to talk with a lot more detail about choices, values, self-worth, self-esteem, so-called friends, emotions and behavioral patterns.
When I finally got up the nerve to talk to my daughter about sex, she was mortified.
I persisted, and we had our first real grown lady talk. I kept my composure, there was no yelling, little emoting beyond trying to be empathetic and patient. I was firm about certain things, but acknowledged that some choices aren’t mine to make. I insisted on making an appointment with a health care professional to answer some questions—I mean, I could answer them, but I know the value of having a 3rd party say what should be said and that’s worth the $10 co-pay.
I wanted her to know that while I’m not her friend, I am the safest person to talk to and share things this deep with. That’s what I’m here for.
Afterwards, she retreated to her room and I grabbed a few shots and leaned into my couch.
In the aftermath, I wasn’t really sure what she thought about the talk. I mean, I high fived myself, because I thought I did pretty well. I kinda wished my mom was willing to talk to me like I talked to Hope about grown lady stuff. I thought to myself, “Self, you *might* be on the road to being that cool mom you aspire to be!”
And then, just when I thought I’d cracked the door to our grown lady chats, the flood gates opened. #IWASNTREADY
Last night on the way home from an outing Hope resurfaced the conversation with way more details and an offer to read a series of messages that I hadn’t read during my privacy invasion.
Oh dear…I don’t want to read those messages. Nope, nope, I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.
We stayed in the car for 30 minutes talking about grown lady things, with me genuinely happy she feels safe talking to me and asking questions, while also really needing to take to my bed immediately because I was…done for.
Oh yeah, we are all into the grown lady chats now. I know this means I’m totally slaying this mother game this week, but the loss of my own parenting innocence is kinda sad. I mean, I’m not naïve; I knew Hope was having all these thoughts and feelings; I remember what kinds of things I wanted to know and experience in high school, and I only imagined that it was like that and worse now. I just didn’t count on finding out so much so quickly. I know that we will establish some kind of boundaries with time, and so I’ll treasure this time of knowing so much and being able to parent, coach and mentor her into womanhood.
Sometimes I really sit down and think about how Hope is already in high school and this chapter will be over so soon, but we just found each other. We’re having all these experiences, and we’re cramming all this life into what feels like tiny chunks of time. Before you know it, we’ll be on to the next mother-daughter crisis.
Two years ago, I knew Hope and I would someday have to have grown lady chats, but it seemed so far off into the future.
And now we’re here. I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made and how quickly it has happened, but I’m also like, wow, it’s all flying by so damn fast. I know it’s a mess of confusion and hormones and emotions for Hope right now, but it is also a mess of emotions (and probably some wretched hormones) for me too.
So, for now, I’m open to listening to every hair raising, slow-blink inducing grown lady chat that Hope wants to have with me.
I’m also stopping by the liquor store on the way home, you know, for my private after party.
April 19th, 2016 at 4:04 pm
Yep and yep. I have had so many conversations of my own that I have made myself blush at the amount of information I needed to impart to a 15 year old. Gads I hear you. Hang tough I am told that it is good that your child will talk openly to you. I hope so for both of us.
April 20th, 2016 at 11:03 am
It really is a good thing, and in so many ways it’s a dream come true in terms of parenting. We had the “mechanical” discussion a long time ago and that was easy, clinical almost, but now we’re headlong into the emotions and curiosity phase. Oy…it’s harder than the “well, honey, this can go there…”
April 19th, 2016 at 4:21 pm
Also, I was listening to an interview a few weeks ago about how young girls are socialized to think and act sexually. It was so interesting, it kinda made me sad I don’t have a girl. (Obviously, I’ll have “the talk” with Chick, but since he is a boy, I imagine the tone and direction will be different.)
Anyway if you want to give it a listen, here it is: http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/2016/03/29/472211298/fresh-air-for-march-29-2016?showDate=2016-03-29
April 19th, 2016 at 4:31 pm
Thanks! Will totally listen to this.
April 20th, 2016 at 11:14 am
Incidentally, there’s another one about the adolescent brain that is probably worth checking out on that podcast as well! Thanks O, I’m always on the prowl for more content to listen to during my commutes!
April 19th, 2016 at 4:56 pm
You slay, lady. I’m glad Hope feels comfortable having these talks with you. 🙂
April 19th, 2016 at 5:36 pm
Never had specific lady chats but I think that’s because we already knew how and where babies came from seeing as dad delivered them, and we were encouraged to ask questions. I do remember one day dad pulled me aside and said I was old enough that it was time I found a different doctor than him, and told me to go to Planned Parenthood…
I think it speaks to the relationship that Hope came back for more 🙂 – you are obviously doing it right…
April 20th, 2016 at 11:16 am
My parents signed that permission slip for me to go to “that” assembly and follow up sex-specific presentations and taught me the values at church. I don’t disparage the way they handled it; my sisters and I turned out fine, but I wish I could have asked questions, so I want that for me and Hope. But, um, yeah, I need more wine…some questions..O.M.G….
April 19th, 2016 at 5:40 pm
You are officially my parenting hero! Talk about composure and tact! I’m impressed that you handled it so well that Hope chose to return to you to talk more.
I look forward to the day (in many years) that I get to email you asking for your advice when I have to have my own version of that conversation. 🙂
April 19th, 2016 at 6:22 pm
You have so got this! Reminds me a bit of several conversations I had with my stepson after he decided to open up to me. He was EIGHTEEN when I met him and had long since figured out what went where … but oh boy, the angst about masturbation. One time we met for breakfast at the airport hotel where I’d spent the night prior to driving home. It was lunch time before I left. Who knew there was so much to say on the subject – or so great a need for reassurance! He belonged to a young adults group at church that apparently talked about nothing else and he was petrified that he was going to hell. Oy!
April 20th, 2016 at 11:20 am
Awwww, we haven’t even gotten to that topic yet; at the rate we’re going, I’m sure we will. But it is amazing how thirsty kids are for information and also how they process good info and bad info. I want her to consider our values as believers, but I’m trying not to say anything convicting or judgmental–it’s already heavy stuff, she doesn’t need that dramatic burden on top of it. 😦
April 22nd, 2016 at 6:09 am
Way to go! Sounds like you handled it like a champ and while it’s overwhelming and indepth, the reward will come when she is 30 and calling you for advice and chats because of your knowledge and open door policy. It’s all going so fast and the good thing is that you are making the best of every moment. Claps for you Adoptive Mom.
April 27th, 2016 at 2:42 pm
Oh girl, I already know these converstaions will start with Mary before I know it…14 is far away but not really! Also, she asked me what a period was after a tampon comercial, and i lost my shit, talking about, “I’ll tell you when i get back from the store,” told Callie I would be right back, and bounced. Yeah, we never came back around to that, but I gotta think of a better excuse to cut out…
April 27th, 2016 at 3:29 pm
LOL, not when I get back from the store!!! LOL, #punkmove