When I was a little girl, no older than seven, I asked my mama how babies were made. There was no need to ask where babies came from because by that time my parents had five children. Being the second of five, I had a clear idea that those babies grew inside my mommy; but how did they get there? My mama initially tried to answer the question with the standard responses: God blessed the family with the baby. Mommy and Daddy’s love for each other made the baby.
I realized that in order to get the actual answer, I would need to press mama further. “Ma, the baby is growing inside your stomach. I really need to know how it got there. Did you eat some baby seeds? Did it climb in your ear and swim down to your stomach? HOW did it get in there”?
My mama looked at me, smiled and finally began answering my questions. She explained that when a man and a woman love each other they sometimes choose to express their love through affection like hugging, kissing, “etc.”. I assumed that the “etc.” was what I would see on tv when I would sneak a peek at my favorite soaps Dallas and FalconCrest. I reminded mama that she still hadn’t answered my question. I knew that kissing didn’t make the baby because I would already have about a hundred babies. There had to be something more to this mystery and I was determined to find out. I interrogated my mom until she finally gave up the goods. The birds and the bees. She began singing the song (my mama knew the perfect song for every occasion).
“Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
And the flowers and the trees
And the moon up above
And a thing called “Love”…
I tried my hardest to figure out how the girl chooses the guy. And how do you know if that’s the right guy to be the “bird” to your “bee”???
Looking at my parents was no help. It seemed as though my mother barely liked my father. She was mostly agreeable with him but when he would put his arms around her waist while she cooked or pulled her into his lap, she would quickly wriggle out of his grasp. There was clearly something more to this love and sex stuff that I was not understanding.
One day I strategically caught mama alone in the kitchen to get some answers. In case we were interrupted, I started with a big question. “Ma, how does a woman know which man she should have sex with”?
I knew it was a good question when the very little pink that my mom has left her cheeks immediately. She wiped her hands on the apron that covered her pregnant belly and sat down.
“Sex is a big responsibility because from love-making comes children. Although a woman may not get pregnant from each sexual experience, there is always the possibility she will. So, the best thing I can say to you is to only have sex with a man who you will want to be the father of your children. If he cannot be an amazing father right now then you have a responsibility not to risk creating a child with that man by having sex with him”.
What a gift it was to receive that knowledge as such a young (albeit mature thinking) child. I was able to expound on that concept in many ways. If I shouldn’t have sex with a person who couldn’t be a great father then I too should not have sex until I was ready to be an amazing mother. Even during my heightened hormonal and highly sexual teenage years, these concepts of sex, love, and responsibility were ever-present in my mind. These lessons guided my decisions to remain sexually inactive until I was 19 years old. Not because of a lack of desire or the presence of fear, but because I knew that I was not ready to be a mom.
When I did become sexually active, I did so armed with knowledge of self-care, protection, and a plan.
As women, we have a great duty to teach our daughters and sons how to be loving, respectful and responsible to their bodies and the person with whom they choose to share it with. Thanks mama for teaching me this wisdom, I promise to pass it along to my children as well.