Full circle

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Some of you may have noticed the recent emergence of several posts which seem....out of time.

No, my daughter has not morphed backwards to an 8 year old.  Yes, she still asks for dessert daily.

Emily is on the cusp of turning 21. TWENTY_FUCKING_ONE!!!!! This makes me feel oddly old, since I met her father when I was 21.  I look at my daughter and think "How could you even ever think about settling down with a partner at 21?!?!"

My blogging has decreased, obvs. Part of that is because I have classrooms full of students to regale with my humor and stories and the need to write them down feels less urgent. While my personality felt large and outsized for my body in 2005, it feels less so in 2019.  I have expanded, both internally and externally ( pats belly roll). 

The recent stories are old Gimlet Eye stories that I'd forgotten I'd stored in Draft form. I wanted to insert them in this blog because they are 1) good and 2) things I don't want to forget. 

Em is using them for a narrative for her sexual behavior class as examples of how parents talk to their children about sex and it amuses me endlessly to re-read those stories. 

When I read these stories to her over the phone, we both end up laughing. She remembers glimmers from those years, but my voice overlaid on top adds a sort of nuance to her memories. I am filling in the behind the scenes stuff that she didn't need to know, but now does know. Having my daughter read the inner voice of her mother was something that I never anticipated when I began blogging in 2005.

In hindsight, I am so glad I wrote it all down. 

It just happens

Sunday, March 24, 2019

While we were in the Target dressing room, Emily asked me what was wrong with her Daddy.

I took a deep breath and tried my best to explain to her that he father had noticed the changes that her body was beginning to undergo and that it made him kind of sad. She wasn't his baby girl anymore.

She put her hand on my shoulder. "But I'll always be his baby girl!", she said.

"Yes baby, I know - but it freaks him out a little to see your body changing. He sees that and starts to think about you being in high school and starting to date and it just makes him a little weird..."
I trailed off.

She paused and stared at her body in the mirror. She did a little half naked dance. The same dance she has been doing she she could rip her diaper off and tear ass across the living room.

"Well, Daddy just has to understand that EVERYBODY grows up - It just happens." She cocked her hand on her hip and stared at me.

"I know, sweetie - he'll live. Now get dressed."

Stepping out,  I waited for her outside the dressing room. She needs her privacy now, you know.

Always Be Prepared

Last week, Emily and I were walking along the lake. The flooding was at it's height, and we walked around looking to see how far the lake had risen into our neighbors yards. We walked down to the front yard and watched the ducks swim around the partially submerged picnic tables.

As we walked back, she hit me with a question for which I was unprepared.

"Why do boys have penises?"

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? A penis discussion at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday?

Attempting to conceal the lump that has grown in my throat, I inquired, "That's a good question - what made you think of it?"

Buy the time, Dawn, buy the time. THINK!! THINK!!

Em:"Well, we talked about being safe in school and how only certain people are allowed to touch your private areas, like your doctor - or you and daddy."

Em:"That's true, but even Mommy and Daddy and doctors should ask you if it's OK first. Your body is your body and you have the right to tell anyone that you don't want them to touch you."

Em:"Yeah, I know. And I know that I have a labia and a hole where my pee comes out and a hole for my vagina, but I wondered what do penises do? What are they used for?"

My mind begins to cycle through a variety of answers, not the least of which is "NEVER TOUCH A PENIS!! PENISES ARE BAD!!!", which is irrational, but a mommy instinct. I then mentally veer to the "too much information" side where I give a detailed description of the clinical uses of the penis and it's reproductive or elimination functions.

Egad. Where do I go with this? I settle for the middle of the road.

Me:"Well, boys use their penis to pee. You know, like Daddy does."

Em:"Oh, yeah. I've seen Daddy pee."

Me:"What else do you think penises might do?"

I have an image in my head of dancing penises of various ethnicities and girths, in full cirque de soleil garb, putting on a Vegas style show.

Em:"Well, I think they help to make a baby..."

Oh. My. God. I am not ready for this talk. I cannot have the how babies are made talk. I will throw myself in the lake to divert her. OK, that seems a bit extreme. I go for the middle of the road response again.

Me:"Yep, they do. Do you have any other questions?"


Me: "OK. But you know that you can ask mommy anything, right? I will always give you answers to your questions..."

Razor's edge, folks, Razor's edge.

Originally Published May 24, 2006 at The Gimlet Eye

The word Daddies fear

Last night, after dinner, we three were settling down to our evening activities.

Emily snuggled into the couch and pulled the quilt over her. I recognized the nesting behavior. I knew what she was planning to do.

I said, "I know what you are about to do and I am telling you not out here in the living room."

She started to laugh. I continued my walk out of the living room.

But NOOOOOOoooooooo. Someone has to get all "nosy" about what is going on. Someone can't just let me deal with anything without involving himself. Someone can't simply assume that there are some things that don't need a family conference.

"What? What's going on", asks Terrance looking up, his bloodhound scents activated.
"You don't want to know - it's taken care of...", I continue to walk.
"No, Dawn - what's going on? What are you two talking about? What was she about to do?"

I stop. I turn. I decide to let him have it.


His face recoils in horror. He practically begins to sweat.

"That's what your nosy ass gets", I say as I walk into the kitchen.

Now, with More Sex Talk!!

So we all know about my daughters penchant for asking me pointed questions regarding sex and sexuality when I least expect it..Right?

It is not as if I am embarrassed when it comes to bodies and sexuality. I always insisted that children be given the correct names for their genitals - in school and at home. My family was modest, but not prudish. Genitals are parts of a child's body and should be given the correct name, just as an elbow, or a toe.

So it isn't the technical aspect that has been giving me pause.

It is the realization that at 8.5 years, my daughter is experiencing pre-pubescence. I see it in her hips and legs. I notice the padding of fat starting to form around her breasts. She complains that her nipples are itchy sometimes. She is starting to notice boys a little more closely.

And, well...this makes me uncomfortable. As practical as I feel about sexuality, I don't think I want it to affect my child.

This is both a ridiculous and understandable feeling. One the one hand, as uncomfortable as her emerging sexuality may be for me, it is my Job as her mother and female role model to give her the language, the knowledge and the confidence to manage puberty as best she can.

On the other hand...This is my baby. The manifestation of her fathers and my love and sexual union. She is beautiful, she is innocent, she is pure.

The acknowledgment that she is awakening in her sexual curiosity is the knowledge that she will soon come to look at her father and I differently too. She will begin to understand that there is more than we have told her about our relationship. That while she did indeed grow inside my body and that it took a piece of daddy and a piece of mommy to create her - there was more to it than that. She will begin to know that her father and mother are sexual creatures too.

So, I wade into these murky waters - as every mother in the world has before me, and all others will after me. I try to balance my need to protect her against her need to trust me for correct information.  I know that this is just the very tip of the iceberg. The hard work of parenting a teen girl is being built on this foundation. The hard work of helping her make good decisions in those years is being influenced by every reaction, every discussion. Her path to her own sexuality as a young woman is being paved by these discussions, and as much as it makes me squirm, it is a gift for which I can can help her prepare.

Even if I have to have big glass of Merlot afterward.

Walkin' in The Rain

I decided to take Emily for a rainy day walk yesterday. She was off the wall, and while it was cool and rainy, it was not prohibitively so.

We bundled up, she in her matching rain coat, boots and umbrella, and I in a heavy jacket and hat, Pooh umbrella in hand. We strolled. We enjoyed the relative quiet of the streets and the deserted sidewalk. We decided to walk to the bakery for some hot cocoa for her and a coffee for me.

It was one of those moments where you think, "I kind of have this motherhood thing well in hand. Someone should take a picture of us in all our cute mother/daughter glory!"

That is when she got me.

"Hey Mama? You know my labia?"

"Yeah. Is it all right?"

"Yeah, it's OK but I have a question about it."

"All right, what's your question?"

"You know that piece in the middle? Not where I pee, but above it?"

"Yes. That is your clitoris."

"My clitoris - yeah. What's it do? I mean what does it do in my body?"

I take a deep breath. I frame my response. I search for a better explanation than the one that is rolling through my mind.

"Well, how does it feel when you touch it? Does it feel good?"


"Well, that it was it does in your body. It just exists to feel good"

"Oh.....It's stretchy."

"Um, yeah - I guess so. You should be gentle with it."

"Mama? Do you have a clitoris?"

"Yes, honey. All women have them. Its part of the body parts we are born with as females."

"Oh. OK."

Why do I think this is just the beginning?
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