I’m determined. Have been since I realized my own sexual discoveries were stunted until my 30s.
My kids will have healthier views on sex than I did.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t have a natural curiosity for it. At age eight, I asked my mom about sex. Her response?
“We don’t talk about things like that.”
When I pressed, it became, “We are not talking about that.”
To be fair to her, I asked in the middle of a Pizza Hut in an overly loud voice during dinner. And, as she’s told me since then, having that question come from an eight year old child (no matter how mature or precocious) threw her off.
And she was a product of her own upbringing. No one talked about sex when she was a child. The mention of sex, if said at all, always came in hushed tones, as if you didn’t want God to hear. She internalized the experience, and it crystallized into a total inability to discuss it with a curious (but also very loud) child in public.
I don’t blame her. But I realized I didn’t want to be like her. My children shouldn’t wait until they reach their 30s to have a healthy relationship with their sexual self.
Each generation improves on the one before, at least that’s the theory, and in my family it’s working.
My grandmother whispered the word “sex” and looked on disapprovingly when the topic came up, even as an off-color joke.
My mother managed to have better, more fulfilling sex by the time she was in her 40s. She still doesn’t want to talk about it.
I hit my 30s before I realized my sexual self. And my kids, to their chagrin, have a mom determined to talk about sex.
“Do we have to talk about this now, Mom?”
“Are you sure my little brother should be here for this conversation?”
“Why are you telling me this?!”
To be honest, I may be a little militant about it. Since the oldest reached nine or ten, I’ve insisted on an ongoing conversation.
I don’t wait for them to ask. Instead, I demand that they listen.
I think it might be working.
The oldest gave his permission for me to say “sex” around him, instead of “grown up stuff” which he insisted upon after one too many conversations.
He’s willing to hear me out when I talk about arousal and consent. We talked about kinks without ever using the word, and he seemed to accept that it’s okay to be turned on by literally anything.
If I manage to raise two men who understand consent, respect their partner’s autonomy, and never sexually harass, assault, or do worse to another human being, I’ll count it as a success.
For now, we have conversations that barely squeeze past my throat. My brain shrieks at me to stop. This feels too hard. It’s too awkward. He doesn’t want to know! But my instincts tell me to keep going, this is right, he’ll appreciate this someday.
Someday but not today.
Today, he wishes I’d please-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy stop talking about sex.
Hope he can live with the disappointment.