From the time we started talking about where babies come from, I have tried to leave an open door for Lena to ask any questions she liked, on any angle of the topic. (Books her father and I put in her hands in her later ‘tweens helped pave the way.) I think I’ve successfully managed to leave inherited discomforts about acknowledging her sexuality (with everything they might imply, realistically or not) out of our talks. This has been a process, not without struggles and doubts; and though practice here does not necessarily make perfect, four or five years of warming to my daughter’s very significant sexual side has given me confidence in my judgment, in my ability to be a good resource for her.
In fact, the challenges do keep coming without my having been perfected by my practices, not just yet. It is still the case that every time Lena’s talk gets a little more graphic, a little more down and dirty, I face some internal conflict. Part of me would like to just push her questions aside, to let her know from my exalted position as her mother that her preoccupations have no place in her young life. Through the magical qualities of a mother’s silence, she would be benevolently released from the curse of uncomfortable and controversial interests—I’m sure of it!
Lena would definitely be happier for that boundary I drew in the sand for her. Then, she would be blithely free to focus on schoolwork, sports, musical instruments, and all the happy and wholesome things that contribute to a sunny disposition and healthy upbringing. Those would be the occupations that would make her thrive in the only larger community that any mother in her right mind would tolerate for her child (not to mention that she’d be aiding and abetting my own happiness, since I would be freed from worry about her).
That uncomfortable, fearful part of me does not give up without a struggle.