Let’s Talk about Sex

At 6:45 am during my morning commute, I am awake, but not like, REALLY awake. You see, I’m a crockpot, not a microwave. I heat up sloooowly, getting warmer by the hour. Therefore, I was not prepared for the bomb of a conversation my child wanted to have with me this very morning at 6:45 am in the car.

“Do you know what the word ‘climax’ means–like, the climax in a story?” she suddenly asked me.

 “Yes,” I said, (insert thoughtful pause) “Are you studying that in school?”

“Yeah, and I was, like, looking it up on Merriam Webster’s Dictionary online for the definition. Well, the first two definitions were normal. Like they were talking about stories…”

I was starting to get anxious at that moment. I’m not even Catholic, but I wanted to say Hail Marys.  I prayed in my mind, “Please, please, do not let my child go there. I’m so not ready to talk about this topic before 7:00 am. Please make her stop!”

But my child did not stop talking. Her eight year old brain was, in fact, churning.

“But the third definition,” she said, “was like, talking about sex.”

“Oh my. Oh my goodness. Oh dear…Did you show your teacher?”

“No! I just wrote down the first definition and got out of there fast.”

“Okay, well… I can see why that would have been shocking. You just, um….” (holy crap, I’m totally struggling for words here), “you just sometimes have to be careful with the internet.”

That response did not appease her. 

“So, like…what IS sex? I mean I know it’s a private word, but what it is it?” she inquired. 

“I am not exactly prepared to have this conversation at 6:45 in the morning on the way to school. Can we talk about it later?” I asked, feeling like I needed time to plan out what I was going to say. 

“Okay,” she said. 

But then, some weird voice intruded in my head. It was the voice that told my fears to shut up. It’s like, my authentic voice–the one that actually doesn’t respond in fear, but approaches situations from a place of love. And I was like, “Seriously, voice? After you just avoided that conversation, now you want me to be courageous? You are SO stupid, voice!”

And that internal voice said this:  “Emily, there is no perfect time to have this conversation. It is a gift that she’s asking YOU, her mom, instead of someone else. GO there. Be grateful for this moment.  Answer the hard questions the best you can.”

Stupid voice. 

“Actually, Aliana, that’s a good question you asked, and we should talk about it now,” I suddenly said. 

“Okay?” she said, now starting to get confused by my change of heart. 

“So sex is something that a woman and man do that creates babies… or I mean, that can create babies,” I stuttered.

“So, I am sex?” she asked.

“NO! I didn’t explain that right… um, sex is like something a man and a woman who love each other can do together to make a baby,” I said, through my not fully awake brain. 

“Okay,” she said. “Oh, did I tell you about the trip my friend went on?”

And just like that, she changed the subject. And I kind of, like, thought about going back to the sex thing, but then I remembered that when we went to the child psychologist, she told me to follow my child’s lead in discussions of this nature, and just answer the questions they ask.

And that was it. Apparently I CAN have awkward and hard conversations at 6:45 am. And if I can, we all can. AND, I know I’m going to have to talk about this again with her, which literally makes me want to crawl out of my skin, but I think what this means is that I SIMPLY HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT YET what it is that I want her to know and understand about sex–what it means and what it doesn’t mean. What intimacy is, and what it isn’t. 

And maybe that’s because I’m still figuring this all out FOR MYSELF. Sex is a topic that people have VERY strong opinions about, and I’m even nervous as I’m sitting here typing this out to you. 😳🙄😳 When I was growing up, I found out through the grapevine that sex was when a penis went in a vagina, and OMG that was just so BIZARRE to wrap my brain around,  and THEN I was told just to “never do it until my wedding,” and wasn’t really told why. 

I am starting to see that I sort of learned things in reverse. Like, I got married and had a child, and THEN I learned about sex. And that’s all I’m going to perhaps say about it now, as the rest of my thoughts on that will be in my future memoir (hehehe), but WOW, you guys. Just wow. I actually got through that conversation!!  Like I tell my students, “We can do hard things.” ❤️ I can. You can. We can. 

What I Learned from Going to the Psychologist

When I first got divorced, I realized within about two seconds that single parenting is extremely difficult. While my experiences as a single mom have empowered me, they have also challenged me and pushed me to my emotional limits.

You see, I have what people refer to as a “strong willed child.”

We live in the heart of the city and like to go for walks. The other day while out walking, a man passed by us and said, “Good morning.”

“Actually, you were supposed to say afternoon,” she snapped back. “I mean, it is 12:07 p.m. That’s afternoon. P.M. means afternoon.”

I love that my child is sassy like this and I hate that my child is sassy like this. I mean, I have been given the gift of this vibrant, bright, social child in my life, who makes me laugh and brings so much joy to me and others. But man, she can also be as strong-willed as the day is long.

I could probably dedicate every single blog post from henceforth on to the subject of parenting a strong willed child. But that would be depressing, so I will try to just get to the point on this one.

I found myself losing my temper with my child in uncharacteristic ways when she turned four years old. I decided to take her to a child psychologist. I mean after all–it had to be HER that had the problem, right? I was hoping this psychologist could knock some sense into her sassiness.

After every weekly session, I would ask the psychologist, “So, how did it go?”

“Fine,” she said.

“But, did you talk to her about her behavior? Like how to fix it?” I questioned.

“Well, for children of this age, we mainly do play therapy,” the psychologist explained.

I didn’t know what to think of this. I mean I was paying money to this woman to play with my child? Heck, give me that money back, and I’ll go play dolls and board games with her myself. And, I wasn’t noticing any changes in her behavior.

No changes, that is, until the psychologist invited ME into the play sessions.

She explained to me that I was supposed to play with her and not ask any questions, but rather reflect back to her with statements. For any of you reading who know me, this task is extremely difficult, because I have one of those personalities that adores questions. So if she got angry about something, instead of asking her, “Why are you so mad?” I was supposed to say, “Wow, you seem really angry,” or something to that effect. At first, this felt really fake to me. I wanted to yell, “What is wrong with you!?”

I did play therapy sessions with my child for almost a year. During this time, I realized the value in playing with my child and giving her my undivided attention, but even more than that–I saw that it was ME who needed help–not Aliana.

I gained confidence in my parenting by having the psychologist observe me and provide me with feedback as I addressed a temper tantrum. I also learned how to resolve conflicts by observing the psychologist interact with Aliana.

During a session once, Aliana got upset while playing a board game and was blaming me for her loss.

“Blaming people doesn’t solve the problem,” the psychologist said to her.

The next time Aliana had a meltdown that involved anger towards me, I repeated the same statement, “Blaming people doesn’t solve the problem.”

And even though me saying that didn’t calm Aliana down in that moment–it calmed ME down. It was like a light switch had flipped on in my head, and suddenly, I had been given WORDS to say that I believed in. These words gave me patience, which was what my child needed–she needed a patient parent to respond to her meltdown, not an angry one.

And I kept saying those same words to her all the time, and still say them to her all the time. It has made me feel sad at times, because I realize that I was, more than likely, the one who modeled blaming people for her in the first place. It’s always been something I’ve struggled with throughout life. It’s been easier for me to blame someone else for feelings I have, instead of taking responsibility for my emotions and growing up. Saying these words to her also helped my 30 something year old self realize that I needed to apply this truth.

One day, my mom and dad recounted to me that they were arguing about something petty in the car, and Aliana suddenly piped up from the back seat, “Blaming people doesn’t solve problems!”

My proudest parenting moment EVER. ❤️ Because seriously, even if that’s the only lesson she ever learns from me, that is one of the most useful I could possibly give her.

In light of everything happening in education today in the state of Indiana,
In light of the violence in our city,
In light of the war in other countries,
In light of any and every conflict I’ve ever had within myself and with others,

Blaming people doesn’t solve problems.

What does help me solve problems, however, is eating good food. I made this soup last week, and I had it for leftovers all week. And that’s saying a lot because I don’t like leftovers.

It’s from a girl I follow on IG named Lexi and she has a website/blog called Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.

Turkey and Kale Soup
(Did you know you can massage kale? That is not a typo in the recipe.)

This is what it looked like when I made it:

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And here’s a photo of my daily dash of sass, who has taught me to not care so much about what other people think.

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