Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Birds and the Bees

Oh yes, we're nearly there

My oldest was five and her sister about four when the subject of how babies are made first came up. The three of us were laying in my bed together on a rainy Oregon morning chatting when one of them wondered allowed, "How does the baby get out of your tummy?" Wanting to spare them any gruesome details, I remember replying, "With the doctor's help." That weak answer seemed to pacify them for about a minute before the follow-up questions bubbled up.
"Does it hurt?" ~Yes. But not so much that I didn't want to do it a second time (kiss for the littlest).
"Does everybody need a doctor to help?" ~No, but it's more common to have a doctor help.
"When I have a baby will I cry?" ~You might, but I'll bet they will be happy tears. 
"How does the baby get in there?" ~It grows there from an egg. And guess what? You already have eggs in your body to make babies. You are lucky to be born a girl because you get to carry the eggs from the moment you're born and then you get to grow the baby. Boys don't get to do that and let me assure you, it's amazing when you're not vomiting, exhausted, or crazy with hormones. (I decided to save those other things for later.)
"But what about the Daddy?" ~Oh my goodness. The daddy is so so important. You can't grow a baby without a daddy. A mommy needs a daddy's help to make the egg grow into a baby. You can't just wish for your eggs to turn into babies, you have to choose the best daddy for your babies first. Then after you get married, when you feel like you're ready, you can decide together when it's time to start a family. 

We talked a bit longer about adoption and what an amazing option that is for many families. We even touched on surrogacy. Through all of this, I was able to avoid specific questions about exactly HOW daddies help the eggs grow into babies. We left the subject with everyone feeling content and informed. That was about 3 years ago… 

Then the other day while the three of us were getting a snack together, out of nowhere, the younger one asks, "So how does the husband {Yay!} help the wife grow a baby?" To which the other one adds, "Yeah. He doesn't just stand next to her or hug her, right? How does he help? What does he do?" 

And here we are. 

I always thought when it came down to the nitty-gritty, and the girls started asking more pointed questions, that I would approach the actual "Birds and the Bees" conversation with grace, science, a conversational tone, and perhaps a visual aid or two. However, this was long before I realized that my adorable daughters have super big mouths and share absolutely everything with all of their friends and also anyone else within earshot. Trust me, odds are that your little darlings do the same--but probably not nearly to the degree that my loudmouths do. 

So here's the thing: While I think that I could do a fairly decent job of keeping the details simple, steering clear of embarrassment and shame, providing age-appropriate content, and offering frank answers… I'm more than a bit hesitant to become the parent of the child who will (likely) mix up her facts while relating all of this incredible science regarding sperm, eggs, uteruses, and all the other fascinating mechanics of reproduction to your child. (Special emphasis for the parents of other children who ride the "purple bus." As I'm sure you already know, a TON of heavy shit gets debated and discussed on that route!) 

Making this sticky situation even stickier (Pun intended. Too much?) is the fact that we no longer live in über-liberal Portland, Oregon. We now live in far-less-liberal North Carolina. I have to say, this is a big part of the dilemma for me. I can tell you that on more than one occasion over the last year, my adorably agnostic and possibly atheist children have been relegated on the aforementioned purple bus with tales of hellfire and doom because of their refusal to agree with the spiritual opinions and religious beliefs of the majority of riders on that lumbering, yellow vessel of unsupervised sharing amongst children aged five to eleven. (Thankfully, they were not too upset by the dire warnings of their bus mates, as the more outspoken one of the two shot back, "I suppose those threats only work if you believe in hell or the devil.") In any event, I'm left to assume that there's not a lot of frank discussion regarding either birds or bees happening in the homes of other 7 and 8 year olds around here. I suspect that mine are on the younger end of the spectrum regarding the topic--but I can't be sure… I don't mind. I'm happy they're inquisitive and we have always celebrated curiosity. It's just much more straightforward when, as was the case this evening, the topics included: the atmosphere, gravity, and planetary orbit.

I managed to avoid really answering The Question during our snack-making sidetrack but I know they noticed my hedging and I feel like they're ready for some answers. I don't want to keep side-stepping the issue because one of the things I value most and really want to hang onto is the idea that we can talk about anything together--even the hard stuff. Now is the time to lay out the foundation for honesty, trust, and open communication that I know is going to be so much more important in the coming years. They deserve an answer.

It goes without saying that I will strongly urge my girls to be discreet when it comes to the topic of baby-making with anyone other than myself or their father; however, we've explored that road a bit here today and I want to be realistic too. At some point the topic will come up among their peers and mine will want to contribute to the conversation. So here's what I'm wondering: To what extent need I consider everyone else's parenting decisions while making my own? And here's another thing: Do you happen to have a handy visual aid (or two) I might borrow? {wink}

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1 comment:

sebertowski said...

I love the way you described how the baby comes out to them! I just straight up told mine they come out of your vagina. I am sure their Southern friends parents didn't tell their kids that. Oh well!

On a serious note, I am all about truth and using accurate names for body parts, etc. I think the more honest and comfortable you are with it, the better. Especially with girls. We all know they will have tons of other outside influences making them feel shameful of their bodies. Good luck! Let me know how it goes....I'm right behind ya!