Hi, my name is Kelsey. I’m a married mother of two and I don’t know all of the proper names for my own body parts (I’m looking at you vagina flaps, because that can’t be what you’re called). Are you scared to read on already? Yeah, me too. But here’s the deal, talking about sex shouldn’t be weird, or awkward, or scary. It’s normal, its healthy, it’s GOOD. But this wasn’t really the attitude it was approached with when I was growing up.
Most of what I learned about sex came from the school bus, really weird seminars at school, and a couple of Sunday school lessons at church in middle or high school. Oh, and an American Girl book called, “The Care and Keeping of Me.” I vividly remember being told that your period meant you would bleed from your, “panty line area.” I literally thought this meant that blood would seep out around my waist, guys. Like bleeding from the elastic waistband of my undies.
I also remember having to go to a big True Love Waits assembly in middle school. I sat on the front row as they brought up five of my classmates to the stage. They gave each of them a clear plastic cup of water. Then they gave the first person in line an Oreo and told them to chew it and then drink from their cup. Ok, so that was gross obviously. Then they asked if anyone wanted to share that student’s water. Also gross. Nobody volunteered. They told us some things that in my 12-year-old brain boiled down to, “If you have sex, you’re the gross, crumb-filled cup and nobody will want you.” I think the demonstration was supposed to be about STD’s but all I got from it is that sex is bad. Afterwards, they had us all sign a paper promising to stay virgins until we were married so we could stay pure like those clear cups of water.
My whole life I felt like sex was a big no-no. And it was. I firmly believe that sex is the best, and the most beautiful, between two committed, married people. But when all you associate with it is a giant, bold, capital N-O, it gets tricky even in the ideal situation.
My husband asked that I publish this anonymously at first, which is totally valid because this is about to get super personal. But here’s the thing- we NEED to talk about sex and I felt like without putting my name on this I would be adding to the weird silent stigma we sometimes have about it. So sorry, sweet husband, but here we go.
When we first got married we were blissfully ignorant about a lot of things and one of those was sex. We thought our honeymoon was going to be the doing-it-like-rabbits, full on romance movie, super sexy experience. Real talk: we didn’t have real, actual, honest to goodness sex for about the first six months of our marriage. SIX FREAKING MONTHS. It’s not that we didn’t want to- because duh. But my body was so used to hearing, “No, no, no,” that I literally needed to reprogram my brain and my body in order to be physically capable of having intercourse with my own husband. It was a really frustrating thing for us and I spent way too many nights crying and feeling like a failure for something that in hindsight was totally out of my control.
I didn’t see an OB/GYN until I was 23 years old and pregnant with my first kid. Like I said, I legitimately still don’t know all of the proper names for what’s going on down there. (Ps-what in the world is it supposed to look like? Ever checked that out in a handheld mirror? That’s a weird first-time experience.) My mom answered any questions I asked about sex, but I didn’t have any because I was too embarrassed to ever bring up the subject. And I didn’t talk to my older sister about it for the same reasons. And without feeling comfortable talking about things, I was left in the dark about so stinking much until well into my adult life.
Mamas (and dads too), we NEED to talk to our kids about sex. I’m not talking about sitting them down and having, “the talk.” I’m talking about making it a normal part of your everyday conversations. Now before you go clutching your pearls, hear me out – I’m not asking you to read Fifty Shades to your six-year-old at bedtime. (Seriously, don’t do that.)
Instead, don’t stifle the opportunities to engage your kids in real conversations about their bodies, sex, and sexuality. For us, that looks like my son, knowing that he has a penis (not a wee-wee, not a pee, not a ding-dong, or any other “cute” name you have for it). This means he also knows that his sister, and mama, and all girls, do not have one. If and when he asks what girls have, we’ll tell him. When he has questions about where babies come from, so far, our answer has been, “from inside their mama.” For now, that answer is enough for him, but when he, and his sister, start asking more, we’re going to tell them the truth. Will we give him every intimate detail of conception if he asks again tomorrow? No. But we will offer more small pieces of information until he’s satisfied with the knowledge that he has. And we’ll continue that trend for, well, forever.
I want my kids to come to me when they’re 5, and 12, and 17. I want them to learn things from me and my husband. Not the kids on the school bus, not the troop of dramatic volunteers that come to the middle school, and certainly not the internet. If they have struggles or concerns or questions, I don’t want them to hide it or feel ashamed. And in order to do that, I can’t feel that way either.
So let’s talk about sex, baby. Like on a regular basis. It’s awkward, I know. But we need to do better. So who’s with me?