“Mommy, how does your body know when you are married so you can make a baby?”
This is the question posed to me last night by my elder daughter, E1.
Me: “Um, that’s not how a baby gets made.”
E1: (still continuing on the train of thought that babies are spontaneously made in mommy’s belly upon marriage) “And then how does the baby get parts of the Daddy in it? Like some of his looks, or personality?” Her face was pondering this question.
T and I have discussed at length our agreement to be honest, biologically correct, and clear about sex ed for our kids. We’ve taught them the proper name for their vagina and that boys have a penis. We’ve talked about why Mommy has breasts and when their bodies would change to have them too. They’ve barged into the bathroom during my period and so we’ve had basic discussions on menstral cycles too. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was hoping the explanation of the actual sex act part would still be a few years away.
Of course my precocious one has to start wondering about this now, at age 7. While he father is conveniently out of town on a business trip. Ok Jen, time to walk the talk.
Me: “Actually, it doesn’t have to do with you getting married. You see, as girls, we all have these organs in our body called ovaries that hold a certain type of cell called eggs.”
She gets amused by the image of women walking around with these little chicken eggs inside our torsos. I clarify further but she still stuck on the eggs with a shell. I move on.
Me: “And boys, like your Daddy, have testicles, that make and store sperm cells.” I can feel my temperature rising with my discomfort. “Now, a baby gets made when a sperm from the daddy is successful to get into the egg from the mommy. Then it’s a fertilized cell and it can start growing into a baby in mommy’s uterus.”
E1: “How does the sperm from Daddy get into the egg?”
Me: “Uh, it swims to it, by uh….” One part of my brain is trying to be as vague as possible and the other is trying to work out how saying “inserting his penis into my vagina” is not too graphic for a 7year-old.
E2: (from the other room) “E1! Come here and look at what I found!”
E1, easily distracted as ever, quickly runs to check out what her sister is doing.
Deep breath out. Ok, clearly I need to role play this and practice the spiel, one with varying levels of biological detail depending on how insistent on details she asks for, and also incorporating messages of respect and love for your partner. Obviously T gets roped into this exercise. Any other takers out there to practice with me?
Parenting is hard.