Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Choosy Moms

Do moms have to make a choice? Motherhood or woman? Sexual being or asexual nurturer?

Can the two co-exist?

I grew up in a place, in a time, when s-e-x was not a topic for discussion. It was a topic that brought shame. I never got "the talk," I just pieced together the necessary information (or not) myself. I did see "the film" in 5th grade, where I learned that there is a certain time each month when we would be forced to wear a belted contraption and would be excused from PE. I misunderstood this monthly thing to be a weekly thing and it terrified me. I was happy to be wrong on that--and that the film was woefully out of date. I think they still show the same film today at my alma mater.

I entered adulthood ignorant about many ways that my body worked, as did most of the others around me. Sex was something to be ashamed of, not something to be understood. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, late in the sexual revolution and on the cusp of the AIDS epidemic ... perhaps the thinking was that if it wasn't talked about, it wouldn't be a problem? I think a lot of things were handled in this fashion--ignore it; it will pass. I learned much through trial and error. I maybe made some choices I wouldn't have made, had I been more informed ... but maybe I would have made the same stupid choices. Kids will be kids, right?

But now, I'm a parent. I'm a wife. How do I balance being a mom and being a wife? It's simple--I just do (some days more effectively than others). Because they are both part of who I am. When I had kids, I didn't give up any part of my being, except for the part that would consider going bungee-jumping or participating in any other activity that might end my life (like riding on the Ferris Wheel. That thing is crazy scary! Way too high up in the air.). I love my family, and like Ayelet Waldman who came out and said that she loved her husband more than her kids (here), I put my marriage before my kids. And I make time for all that this entails.

I teach my children to be empowered. I want them to be successful in life, find fulfillment, reach their goals and above all else, to be happy. But I don't subjugate my marriage to make that happen; my children see that their parents love each other, that we are a united front, that there are times when we need to be alone together and that this is a way that we keep our relationship strong. Door locks should not be undervalued.

There are those who would say that I'm doing my children a disservice by living my life this way; that, by becoming a mother, I need to step away from being a woman first. And I say hell no.

HELL. NO.

My identity as a woman is made up of any number of things, including my role as a mother. Including my role as a wife. And so many other things, like my love of punk music (which I didn't give up when I had kids), my tattoos (ditto) and my deep and abiding belief in the inherent goodness of people.

I will raise my children to respect themselves and their own needs (sexual and otherwise) in the proper manner--with respect for themselves and others; with an understanding that it's not a bad thing; and at a time when it's age-appropriate. Right now, their ages demand that I teach them to be self-confident in their abilities, right from wrong, good manners, good nutrition. And that's what I do. But as they get older and they have questions (and they will have questions), my greatest wish is that these lines of communication remain open so I can teach them bigger lessons about what life holds for them.

4 comments:

  1. I'm thankful I get to raise my kids in a loving environment, although I anticipate some groaning and lament over the parental PDA in the future. It's one of the best gifts we can give them. We also don't hide our rare disagreements, and then our open apologies. Each kid gets plenty of time with us, so when we say we need "private time," they don't complain. Great post!
    BTW, I hate ferris wheels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You just described my upbringing, too. Dang, were we sisters? There were a lot of people in my house when I was a kid... anyway, just had to say THANKS and YOU ROCK because all of us who got the DIY course in sexual awareness start at a deficit in parenting. This, I think is a critical part of parenting, and since I was shorted on it, I don't want to pass the favor on to my kids. I don't always have the answers, and maybe you don't either, but I think you've got an edge on me. So now, like it or not, you are my role model.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are so good. SO good. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jammie: I agree. We are happy, mad, angry and sorry around one another. If we don't show kids how emotion looks, how will they know? Agree on the one-on-one time for all, as well.

    Erin: We were so out of it back then, we didn't even see each other!? lol. Knowledge is power, yes?

    Heather: You are the smartest person I know. ;) Thanks for the loves & support, sister.

    ReplyDelete