When all of my girlfriends were losing their virginity in middle school and high school, I knew I was not ready. Besides the ultimate fear of God that my father had put in my heart, I also had already been schooled by my mom on the reality of sex. My “mom” is really my stepmom and my Dad’s ex-wife but none of that matters. She is one of my angels. She saved me from ever having to experiment with sex and drugs and always had an open door policy about everything, which made being a teenager a little bit easier for me. I come from stats that would lead some to believe that I would never make something of myself because the odds were stacked against me and were constantly being reinforced by new obstacles that seemed insurmountable. I knew that I was starting off ten steps behind my peers, so I tried to do follow the “rules” just to ensure that I didn’t get off track.
A lot of girls started to bloom around the 5th and 6th grade. I was still awkward, had just started getting perms and was flat chested. I felt like I was the ugly duckling in the room all of the time. I used to always talk to my mom about these things and she would always say the right words to ease my anxiety for the moment. When she started to see me blooming, she brought up the conversation of sex. I am not sure where or how it started but I just remember her being very honest, open and transparent. It was her words that I alway carried around with me when I would hear my high school friends talking about their sexual experiences. I would always say, “My mom said it wasn’t all that.” Then they would agree and the subject would move on to other hot high school gossip.
Her words empowered me to not feel as if I was missing out on something. Religion or fear wasn’t going to help me to be patient and cherish my virginity but her real life “testimony” helped to keep me grounded and focused on the things I needed to do to succeed. Even when she moved back to Connecticut and I remained in Texas, her words were reinforced by someone who I call my big brother. He did not know that she had already planted the seed but he pushed outside of his comfort zone and had a similar talk with me about waiting as long as I could, not just because he did not want me to get pregnant but because he did not want me to endure the emotional trauma of being “hit and quit.” He was honest to me about how guys really were at that age and where their minds were at and would remain for a long time. His wife would check up with me even after I went off to college and have open and frank conversations about her own experience.
The best thing about all of these conversations was the amount of transparency and the lack of judgment. I never heard my mother cry as hard as she did when I told her I lost my virginity. I felt so bad but I promised her that I would tell her when it happened. After she collected her emotions, our conversation went right back to a level of transparency that I needed after losing something that I had thought I was going to hold on to forever. She asked me what I thought. Then said I told you so. She continued to talk and the conversation shifted. She then empowered me with education about being safe and cautious and I never felt guilty or shamed about being honest.
She was one of the first people that I called when I found out I was pregnant. Her response was very her, “You are grown. You are able to take care of yourself. You will be fine.” Despite her amazing ability to be sensitive and non-judgmental, I did not always have the most sensitive spirit when it came to others sexual choices and lifestyles. I grew up in a very strict and religious family where you did right or God was going to bring down the hammer. I went to church faithfully and constantly felt condemned for sins known and unknown. My lack of perfection did not stop me from passing judgment and being crass about others choices. You live, you learn and you do better.
Through all of this I have learned so many things. Sex is an important conversation to have with your son, daughter, siblings or cousins. The more you share, the less likely they will take their bodies for granted and wait until they are mentally ready to make a decision that is not due to peer pressure or expectations. I am for waiting until you get married but more importantly I am for educating and empowering our youth with the knowledge they need to be sexually responsible. More importantly I learned to not be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good or just plain mean.
Be open. Be honest. Be transparent. Live in your truth. Share your truth. Be you. Tell your story. On your own terms.