Don't Lose Your Sh*t During "The Sex Talk" Even If You're Secretly Dying Inside

Don’t Lose Your Sh*t During “The Sex Talk” Even If You’re Secretly Dying Inside

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I thought it was just a normal day. I was standing at my kitchen counter, smearing peanut butter on bread like the sandwich-making pro I am. My kids were finishing up their breakfast before school, bickering about something typically trivial, like who ate their cereal the fastest. All was quiet, or at least not out of the ordinary, until — bam  my oldest son blindsided me with a very unexpected question.

“Do you have to try to get a baby, or is it something that just happens?”

In that moment, I felt my grip tighten on the peanut butter knife as though I’d fall over without holding onto it, and I swear my internal organs writhed like a salted snail. Because when your kids ask you about sex, or anything involved with it, it’s inherently weird. I could never be classified as a prude, and feel comfortable having frank, honest conversations about sex…with people who are not my children.

But when your kid is the one who wants to talk about it, it’s a whole different ballgame. I want my babies to be babies for as long as they can, and it’s difficult to take off my “mom hat” and see them as sexually maturing individuals who will someday (OMG!) have the desire to (arrghh!), you know, do things with other sexually maturing individuals (gahhh!). And, okay…themselves. Even as I type this, I’m cringing so hard it hurts.

Still, that’s what they are: People who are only going to be more and more curious about sex and all its intricacies. It’s entirely normal, and there’s a lot they’re going to need to know, because whether we like it or not, they’ll start experimenting with their sexuality sooner rather than later.

And there’s no better teacher than their parents, even if it feels like we’re dying a little inside when we dole out the information. But nobody said parenting was easy, and part of our (sometimes-shitty) job description is to give them accurate, complete information — because if they don’t hear it from us, they’ll get their questions answered somehow, whether via their equally uninformed friends or the darkest corners of the internet. No thanks.

When they ask, we owe them a valid explanation. And my son had asked, so the ball was in my court. Since there was no way to answer without involving the actual acts that lead up to pregnancy, I had to jump right in. “Well, to make a baby, you’ve got to have sex. Do you know what sex is?”

He nodded, but I decided to elaborate — at least a little — so I was positive he was sure. “First, the penis goes into the vagina,” I told him as casually as possible, hoping my voice didn’t tremble, revealing my inner-turmoil. Because, arrrggghhh. To drive the point home, I demonstrated with my hands, with the widely recognizable finger-in-the-hole gesture.

I can NOT believe you just did that, admonished the logical part of my brain.

Shut up, countered the mom part. I’m winging it here.

“And the sperm and the egg get together,” my son added helpfully, miraculously skipping the subject of ejaculation (thankyouthankyouthankyou). I had already given him a basic overview about the unity of sperm and egg when he’d asked how babies were made a few years back because it’s never too early to start with age-appropriate fundamentals.

“Yep,” I said, inwardly unclenching a bit. “Sometimes people get them together on purpose. But other times, it happens when people don’t mean it to. So to answer your question, babies aren’t always made on purpose, but if you choose to have sex, it’s always a possibility.” And of course, I touched on the importance of contraception.

“Well, I don’t want babies, so I’m never having sex,” he said matter-of-factly.

“If you ever change your mind about that, make sure it’s with someone you care a lot about. Because it’s a very intimate thing,” I advised. “And by the way, you’re getting to an age where your friends are gonna start talking about sex. But they might not have their facts straight, so if you’ve got questions, please never be afraid to ask me or Dad. I promise we’ll always tell you the truth about whatever you need to know. Having questions about sex, or your body, is never anything to be ashamed of. Okay?” He nodded and resumed eating, and just like that, the talk was over.

I couldn’t have been more relieved, but I also felt triumphant. I had delivered uncomfortable information without stammering, coughing, stuttering, or otherwise revealing that I was like OMGWTF on the inside.

This was several years ago, but the consequences of my choice that day — the choice to appear calm when I was actually anything but — are still manifesting themselves. My son is in junior high now, at an age where curiosity (not to mention misguided “facts” and exaggerated stories from his peers) is rapidly increasing. And because he knows that he can come to me as a source of reliable info, with no fear of discomfort or judgment or overreaction, he does. Yes, it’s still just as secretly awkward for me as it was that day in the kitchen, and sometimes even more so; the questions almost always come out of the blue, and they require more detailed explanations as he gets older.

Still, I keep my cool despite the pressure because it’s important that he feels free to ask. He’ll need to know these things when he becomes sexually active, and it’s my duty to educate him calmly and openly — for his sake and the sake of whomever he chooses to be sexually active with.