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A Conversation with My Mother About Sex, Boys, and How She Married My Father

(An Excerpt)

I was twelve when I first noticed the changes that were taking place in my body. My mom briefly told me what to expect when I officially became a "woman", but she promised to give me more details when it actually happened. When I started my period (two weeks before my 13th birthday), she kept her promise. She gave me a long, detailed account of what to expect now that I was officially a "woman". At first, I thought she was just talking like a mother. Then, after about ten minutes of our conversation, I started to actually agree with much of what she was telling me. Strange, isn't it? A teen-ager actually communicating with a parent! She explained the purpose for everything. She even asked me what I thought about my body and what was happening to it. She let me know that the development of my breasts is mainly for the purpose of feeding my children when I was ready to have them, which she assured me would be several years into the future (at least 15 or 20). She stressed the fact that a young lady needs to grow up physically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and mentally before even considering becoming a mother.

I guess I could see her point. I mean, I know a lot of girls my age and younger who have babies and they don't even know what to do with them. One in particular, Shanette Coleman, had one baby when she was 16 and then another one when she was 18 years old. I am 18 now and couldn't even imagine myself with one child at my age, and certainly not two! In a way, I guess Shanette feels the same way I do because her oldest child lives with her aunt and her new baby is always at the next door neighbor's house.

I feel sorry for her sometimes because she dropped out of school to have children that don't even live with her half of the time, and now she is trying to get her GED. She tries to act as though she likes being out of school, but I don't believe her.

I guess my Mom is different from most of the mothers of girls I know because when I talk to them about certain things, I get the impression that they did not have the same talk I had with my mother when I became a "woman." For instance, my mother talked to me about the way I should feel about myself. I can still hear that conversation in my mind:

 "Arielle," she said, "over the next few years, you are going to be experiencing all kinds of emotions that will probably cause some type of confusion." (Like now, I thought.) "But," she continued, "don't be afraid to come to me and talk, okay?"

"Okay, Mom. But, I don't have any questions right now."

"Are you sure? Because I want you to feel comfortable asking me anything. I know this may be hard for you to believe, but your mother was once 13 years old. Believe me, I know all about the emotional ups and downs of being a teen-ager. My biggest problem was that I had a lot of questions, but no adult that I felt I could go to and not be verbally abused for asking hard questions."

"Hard questions? What do you mean?"

"Well, questions like how old should I be before I kiss a boy on the lips; what should I expect a guy to do when he takes me out on a date and what should I do if he does something I don't want him to do; should I have sex with a guy if he tells me he loves me--you know, questions like that."

(I couldn't believe these things were actually coming out of my mother's mouth, so I encouraged her to continue):

"You never talked about those things when you were growing up?"

"Arie (that's what she calls me sometimes), I didn't say I never talked about them. I said there was not an adult I felt comfortable going to for answers to my questions. Sure, my friends and I discussed sex and kissing and boys with each other, especially in the locker room after gym class. I remember some of those conversations very well, and I would hate for you to have to find out about one of the most important things in life that way. I just want you to know you can ask me any questions you have."

"Even the hard ones?"

"Especially the hard ones! Is there something you want to ask me now?"

"Well, there is one thing: why is it that sex is so important to everyone?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, it's all the girls talk about at school. I just wonder why."

"What types of things do they say when they are talking about sex?"

"Just things like who they had sex with, how it felt, and when they were going to do it again. Some of them act like they do it everyday with a different guy."

At this point, it seemed as though my mom was getting uncomfortable with our conversation--like most adults do when you mention sex to them. I thought she was going to change the subject, but she bravely continued:

"Arie, as hard as this may be to believe, those girls have no idea of what they are doing, no matter how much they pretend to know. It sounds to me like they are trying their best to be liked and thought of as someone who knows a lot about sex, but they are playing a dangerous game."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, to really explain what I mean, I've got to go all the way back to the beginning."

"The beginning?"

"Yes--the beginning of man. Arie, in the beginning (after God created man and gave him a wife), it was God's plan for the man and his wife to have children so that they could populate the earth. The only way for them to multiply was through the act of sex. Engaging in sexual activity is the most intimate act between a man and a woman, no matter how some people might try to trivialize it. I think this is probably one of several reasons God intended for sexual activity to only take place between a man and woman who are married. When you are that intimate with a man, it should be with a man that you loved enough (and who loved you enough) to stand before God and your loved ones to take a vow to spend the rest of your life with him."

"Like you and Daddy did, huh?"

"Well, not exactly. In fact, I don't want you to do like your father and I did."