I swear to god, I'm having sympathy cramps.
My daughter is ten years old, and extremely proud of achieving menstruation.
Three mornings ago, she yelled from the bathroom, "Mom it's blood!"
My heart stopped.
"It's the good blood!"
No way. I'd told her about the "good blood" that would come someday, in the distant future.When she was twelve - at least. But my baby is only ten!
I ran into the bathroom. Her cheeks and eyes were shining. And there it was, smeared all over her plump sweet baby thighs : the Good Blood.
I squealed and clapped my hands, "Oh my God! My baby! It's the Good Blood!"
My daughter was beaming, I was jumping up and down and squealing - you'd have thought we'd won first prize at a raffle.We danced around hugging each other and laughing.
My daughter takes absolute delight in her body. Oh, how I want to guard that delight for her. I want to airlift it miles above beer commercials, fashion magazines, and the whole "extreme makeover" mindset.
I want to teach my daughter to love her body by loving it for her -just as she taught me to love my own.
My daughter first loved my body as a source of nourishment, then of comfort, then of play, and now as a source of hilarity. (When I sat down naked on the bed yesterday, she burst out laughing and said, "Oh my god, Mom, your thighs just popped out like a parachute!" )
I love my daughter's body because it holds her life. And it grows in breathtaking and impossible ways. How can this human being, who once lived inside me and stomped all over my bladder, whose head I used to rub when it poked out from beneath my rib cage - how can she be menstruating now? How can her body be preparing to hold new life within it, just as mine once held hers? How is any of this possible?
My daughter's body is a source of wonder for me, and fascination for her. The "good blood," the breast buds (from the back seat of my car a few months ago I heard, "Oh my god, Mom! My nipples are puffing up like balloons!"), and even the few pimples she's starting to get.
"This face wash'll get rid of those pimples," I told her.
"But I like my pimples." She said. "They define me."
She is proud of every outward sign that she's becoming a woman. And she's proud of the accessories, too.
She has informed me that she is going to continue to wear maxi pads, even after her period ends. "They're comfortable," she says.
Of course, when I tried to explain tampons to her, she grimaced and gagged.
"Oh, gross! No way, Mom!"
Those are the words she uses to express her feelings about sex as well.
"I'm never having sex," she told me. "I think it's disgusting."
I was dismayed. I'd tried to portray sex as something wondrous and beautiful.
"What do you think is so disgusting about sex?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes at me. "Take a WILD guess."
I had to laugh. Without a flood of mind-altering hormones, sex does seem pretty disgusting. But that flood is just on the horizon for her now. Gulp.
Can my daughter's delight in her body survive sexual desire?
The cultural car crash we live in sure doesn't make that easy.
We trap our bodies in a dirty little cage when we treat them as objects of sexual attraction, rather than as instruments of sexual expression.
How do I help my daughter stay free of that cage?
How do I help my daughter to continue living in her own body? How do I prevent her from abandoning her flesh, and "working it" from the outside like a puppeteer?
When my daughter begins to feel sexual desire, she will want to feel sexually desirable. And who will define desirablity for her? And what parts of herself will she be willing to trade to fit that definition?
Trade nothing, baby. Trade not one precious particle of yourself.
Demand to be desired Whole.
Now that's True Beauty!