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You Mad?

The 33 shares on Facebook for my last post means it was controversial.  And that’s the point.  Sometimes we say things other people don’t want to hear.  I was really cranky yesterday after twisting my knee and seeing a mommy blogger apologize for her voice which has helped so many people, so I’m sure the message was rough around the edges. The point was that natural parents who present their beliefs to the world- that breast is best, that corporal punishment is harmful, and other things- should continue to present this helpful information without being concerned with avoiding hurting feelings.  If I do something wrong, I feel bad for it.  I understand the mechanism of hurt feelings.  I also understand compassion and empathy and not wanting other moms to hurt.  Yes, we are all connected.

But they’ll get over it and maybe be better for it  Hey, they were reading your blog in the first place- which means they were probably looking for that information that may have hurt their feelings.  You can help remind them that we are all human.  We all make mistakes.  Then we learn from them.

Bottom line: psychologists wouldn’t be so plentiful and successful if we were not a society trained in avoiding emotion.  Avoiding emotion does not get my vote for best idea ever.  So speak, sisters.

P.S.  I’ll take the opportunity here to point out that I am on my THIRD child, have certainly not lived up to my original AP intentions, and still believe strongly in the principles that have guided the formation of those ideals.  Still- superior, bully, whatever you want to call it- I am not that.

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Aside
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Disclaimer: Since many people have a hard time identifying sarcasm, irony, and the likes through text, please be advised that I do practice AP, I do not identify with the AP Crowd, and I am being quite sarcastic below.  But I am better than you.  Just kidding… the whole point of this post is actually the opposite of that.  I am not better than you, but I did benefit greatly from those who wanted to help me be better than a previous version of me.  

So this happened today.

This isn’t the first time one of my favorite mommy bloggers backed off her stance of whatever it was because she realized the internet is actually a large network of real people she didn’t actually want to offend.  I understand that.  In this world, there are people who just naturally get along.  Other people like them.  They don’t like conflict.

Natural parenting attracts a lot of conflict.  I’ll tell you why: in the same manner the Church is known for not representing literal Christian values, the AP crowd is known for their own sort of hypocrisy and hyperbole.  There happen to be seven Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting.  You probably know of breastfeeding, birthing naturally, babywearing, and maybe a few more.  I bet you didn’t know “Balance” is in fact one of the backbone principles of these popular parenting guidelines.  Yeah, if I read one more blog about not “forcing” a child to say “thank you” to strangers who compliment or help them, I might forget it myself.  Here is where I simply mention that I believe “Balance” includes a healthy understanding of basic social interactions, even though they might make a child uncomfortable, among other things.  And back to the topic at hand.

So the Church of AP is a bunch of in-group bullies, and that’s obviously an exaggeration, but bear with me.  You, you disposable-diapering, formula-feeding, non-co-sleeping, epidural-getting, time-out-using old hags, you are the outgroup.  Ahem, we are the outgroup.  (I’m not owning up to all of those, but I’ll admit to falling short of my Sears ideals.)  And I understand that there has been a lot of bullying because honestly, the folks who are reading up on Attachment Parenting are the folks who probably hate their own parents for screwing them up and needed to find a road map to anywhere that wasn’t where their own parents ended up.  Maybe they need to feel better about themselves because mom was kind of mean, and that might mean bullying (which is not okay- it’s just kind of obvious to put together).

That’s almost what happened to me.  I ate the stuff up.  At 20 years old, I’d already come up with a birth plan and a few weekly meal plans for toddlers and picked out a great preschool… maybe it wasn’t that intense, but maybe it was.  AP was my Bible.  The families I nannied for were my preachers.  I’d found my calling in life, and I was great at this caring-for-kids-in-the-superior-way stuff.  I could have been a total jerk, but then I had the ultimate humbling experience: children.

But I didn’t care that AP was supposed to be superior to other people’s ways.  I cared that it was often the best for the children.  I cared that breastfeeding, and my support of breastfeeding mothers, could mean fewer illnesses for those children.  I cared that getting on their level and listening to them helped them learn to value their voices and emotions.  I cared that wearing an infant would help her feel emotionally secure when she was off playing by herself.  I was, and am, so grateful for the information that doctors, psychologists, and mommy bloggers put out there for me to devour. Truly, I was never into searching out formula feeding moms and “educating” them- just really stuck to hanging out with people who saw things kind of the way I did.  That’s what people do in general, anyway.

I can’t imagine being apologetic for believing in what I believe or apologizing for the facts that helped form my beliefs.

“It made me realize that telling people to not let facts hurt them, was like expecting the rainfall to never touch a single body.” – Two Degrees of Suburbia

But you’re not giving the facts to just people.  You’re giving the facts to parents.  We shouldn’t be so concerned about hurting people’s feelings when we can educate large numbers of people.  We can change a person’s journey on a destructive path by simply linking a few articles on Facebook.  That’s worth a few defensive reactions, in my opinion.

And you know what?  When you believe something, don’t be chicken and say it isn’t worth believing in because a few of your friends don’t like it.

For instance: I have a couple of really wonderful hard core Christian friends.  But I’ll tell them to their faces that gay rights are important, I don’t see any logical way to continue to deny them, and I’ll back that up with facts.  Christians love their Jesus!  I have loved Jesus.  They might get their feelings hurt in that conversation, but it’s right.  I love those ladies, but the issue of civil rights is bigger than avoiding an uncomfortable conversation with a couple of really great friends.  In any case, they’ll still be my friends at the end of the day, because I think we all realize that differing opinions don’t mean you should cut someone out of your life.

Loving and advocating for children and families should be bigger than avoiding uncomfortable conversations with a couple of really great friends.

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Project Sunshine

The newborn phase sucks.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Clover.  I love my whole little family.  But there is no denying this is hard.  As a matter of fact, there’s no denying that there is little happiness or rest these days.  There’s a lot of frustration and tantrums from a toddler and a baby yelling in my ear and vomiting in my hair.  There’s a lot of crying.  I feel like Gwenna doesn’t like me very much, like I’m losing her.  I’m convinced that Clover is dead every time I wake up and she’s not screaming to be fed, and even if she is, I’m terrified to look at her because she could be crying because of some lethal injury or strange newborn illness.  I feel like I’m failing at everything- mothering, being a wife, being a homemaker, being a woman, being a business owner, being a student.

Last night was the first time I slept 4 hours in a row in over 3 weeks.  My days alone with the kids consist of never changing out of a single half-outfit, nursing, getting vomited upon, and pleading with my two year old to do various things, like wear underwear.  I’ve been sicker than I have ever been in my adult life within the past few weeks, I have mystery symptoms that are getting worse, and yeah, let’s just sum it up with “health not so great.”

I feel like I’m in a debt of depression and happiness is thousands of dollars or days away.

Yes, I know some of this is extreme.  You don’t have to tell me to ask for help or to sleep when the baby sleeps (um, that is when? Exactly? Also, just let the toddler run amok?).  I know things are supposed to get better with time. But here is the thing: I have not given up on my dream of happily teaching Gwenna to decorate sugar cookies or doing holiday crafts while nursing Clover in the Moby wrap.

GAME PLAN!

I’m not stranger to the crazies.  Seriously, just ask anyone I’ve ever dated.  So!  I know that there are specific habits one can adopt to help themselves out of a hard place, if they’re not too far gone.  (Notice I’m not saying that if someone is depressed that it is all their fault and they should just DO something about it.  Um, no.)  I’m going to write out a few things I plan on doing, and to keep myself accountable, I’m going to track my progress here.

Want to join me?  Let’s map out a plan for our hearts, minds, and bodies.

Start by setting a small relationship goal.  It can be something to do with your husband, your children, your best friend- something that gets you connected with other people.  That’s for your heart.  Then set a small goal to do with positive thinking- prayers, affirmations, meditation, or whatever suits you.  That’s for your mind.  Then plan an activity you can do every single day to be active for a little bit.  That’s for your body.

Here’s what my game plan looks like:

Heart:  Half an hour of cuddles every day with husband, daughter dates every weekend (one parent with one daughter, the other takes the other daughter, alternate children every other week), call a family member once a week.

Mind:  Affirmations- I am strong, my heart is open, I can feel happiness, my life is beautiful, things are getting better every day.

Body:  Walk every morning with Clover in the Moby wrap.

I will see you tomorrow for check-in!

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I Really Don’t Know: A Post About the Challenges to Attached Families

If you’re familiar with Attachment Theory for children, you’re probably not surprised to hear about Adult Attachment Theory.  This is a pretty new area of study, and the basics are outlined in a pretty reader-friendly book called Attached by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A.  It’s really marketed as a self-help book, claiming it “can help you find- and keep- love.”  The book is interesting even if you’re in a relationship, though.  I may write a review soon enough, but for now, I just wanted to mention that adult attachment exists.

My view of attached relationships (commonly termed “co-dependency” by psychologists seeking some sort of disconnect from biological needs, treating them as bad habits needing to be broken) is that they are healthy.  The research thus far shows us that a relationship which is secure soothes our nervous systems, helping our bodies and minds function with relative ease.  Who wouldn’t want this for their marriage?  In an era of skyrocketing divorce rates and little hope for preserving life-long commitments, I think we need this science to emerge a little faster.  A lot faster.  However, what we do have right now is a foundation: marriages can be secure, attached relationships, and they can be better understood.  We have hope for improvement.

One of the biggest challenges to a healthy marriage, however, is the social atmosphere of our culture.  By this, I mean that people are just not designed for commitment or healthy social interaction these days.  Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like it’s very rare to find a person who values relationships enough to make the effort to maintain them.  If the relationships are not even their own, such as a mother who is a peripheral part of her son’s marriage, then all bets are off- why should she try and protect or even respect that relationship?

I know that this post started off all educational and seemed like it might be an introduction to some valuable information, but this is where that stops.  This is where I say, “I do not have any of the answers I need.”

I do not know how a marriage is supposed to be a healthy one if outside relationships are competing with the marriage.  I do not know how to resolve conflict with competing people.  I do not know how some people can be over 60, yet act like they are barely more emotionally mature than a 2-year-old.  No, friends, this is not an educational post.  This is a flame fest.

This post goes out to all the baby mamas whose children have grown and started their own family, but those baby mamas somehow think they have rights to that family.  This post goes out to all the parents who insert themselves in their childrens’ marriages with the intent of dividing them.  If you take nothing else from this post, take this: you are losing.  You are probably succeeding in creating problems in that marriage, in that family, and you are definitely succeeding in creating problems in your own relationship with your child.  Everyone loses, but you are the biggest loser.  Gone are the days when the elders received unquestionable superior status- everything is questioned today, and the answer to the question of an impossible family member is simply to remove them.

Families today have to contend with so much negativity just to stay together, without people who claim to love them also attempting to destroy something they’ve worked hard to create and maintain.  We have to educate ourselves on how to have happy lives because a large portion of the previous generation has failed.  We have to sift through overwhelming amounts of bad advice and do what’s right for our families.  America is unlike other cultures in that we cannot trust the practices and knowledge of our parenting generation; it’s no fault of theirs, but their parenting and relationship advice got its roots in the worst kind of revolution.  The “medical revolution” turned our natural instincts and healthy traditions into jokes, and we have suffered for that.  Our generation faces a massive number of struggles with parents and in-laws over parenting and family choices because of the discrepancies between what we now know to be true and what was taught to previous generations as a result of the medical model for families.  (Try to explain this unbiased, scientific observation to your mother, however, and you’ll probably get scolded.)

Parents: DO NOT FEEL GUILTY for requesting that your children be cared for in the way that you know is best.  Do not accept the notion that your parents did alright with you, and thus can be trusted with your children.  Do not feel like you have to accept destructive behavior from parents or in-laws simply because they are family.  These are our challenges.  To set healthy examples for our children and help them build healthier lives for themselves, we have to stand our ground and demand that those involved in our children’s lives respect our decisions.  Same goes for marriages- a secure marriage is valuable.  Make that clear by protecting it.

And to those who oppose the notion that the older generation is “not the mama,” so to speak, I will say this once: grow the hell up.  Whatever you might have experienced, and whatever issues you might have with someone else’s (even your child’s) decisions within a marriage and a family, you have no right to take thoughtless action against them.  I am appalled by how common it is for parents, mothers especially, to try to divide a marriage, or compete with the wife.  Get over this!  If you were doing what’s truly best for your children and grandchildren, you would be supporting the marriage and listening to and respecting them.  This means there is no room for trash talking your son’s wife to everyone who will listen, including him; no room for blatantly disregarding parenting wishes; no room for manipulation with gifts and charity; no room for guilt trips; no room for treating someone like dirt and expecting there will be no consequences.

My choices are not only my own; a ridiculous number of people have cut off parents and other relatives for the same sort of problem.  We are taking a stand against this treatment.  We are protecting our families and their future.  We’re modeling the good and throwing out the bad.  And that does not make us bad people; that makes the opposition bad people.  The fact is that a family member is not going to be shoved out of another’s life based on one or even a few little mistakes- you’ve probably done many very offensive things, been asked to change your actions repeatedly, and shown no progress before someone is willing to cut a family member out of their life.

So to all the friends and family out there feeling like victims because you’ve been removed from a family’s life, this is for you: you are the problem, and you can find a solution.  It’s time to stop pretending that you shouldn’t be taking responsibility for your actions and learn how to relate meaningfully and responsibly.  It’s time to fix your mistakes or back off and let the well-meaning, hard-working parents, husbands, and wives be.

For all the parents/grandparents who have respected their children’s family and marriage, KUDOS!  Congratulations on being a thoughtful, caring individual who your children probably look up to and respect tremendously.  Keep on setting the example you set, and one day we will aspire to be the kind of grandparent/parent you are being.  We need many, many more of you…

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Isaac…

I could cry right now.  I’ve done it quite a few times in the last few days.  As a pregnant woman, I should be used to crying, but no.  I’m not a crier.  So when frustration comes out in the form of tears more than once a month, and even more than once a week, I’m left feeling shaken and out of control.

Maybe staying for the storm wasn’t such a good idea.

When we began to make decisions and preparations, I asked my husband if he thought we’d lose power.  His answer was no.  Since he has lived in the Metairie and New Orleans areas for much longer than I have, I felt like there was a good possibility he was right.  I also didn’t hear anything about our area needing to evacuate, and I thought that surely there would be an order issued if the danger was real.  So we (I) cooked all our food, made lists of what to stock up on, did all the cleaning I could before the power possibly went out.

We were originally told that the storm would hit Tuesday morning.  We waited all through Tuesday watching the drizzle stop and start, watching a breeze come up from the summer still.  The new estimate was Wednesday morning- the storm had slowed down.  Tuesday evening, in the midst of light rain and light breeze, people started to lose power.  Mother in law lost power 5:30 PM on Tuesday.  Winds didn’t start coming in until about midnight, when we lost power.  Believe me when I say that summer thunderstorms are worse than what we experienced when we lost power.  We woke up the next morning hot and cranky.  We opened all the windows to let in the breeze, but there was no cross-ventilation (all of our windows are on one side of our apartment).  It was miserable.

Gwenna was the exception- she continued chirping and chatting even as her hair became matted with sweat, and through the whole thing, rarely asked about the lights.  At night, we’d put her to bed naked, and she’d insist on covers.  We’d wait until she was asleep to take them (which I felt was a sad betrayal, but necessary) and I wiped her skin down with a wet rag to cool her off through the night.  So many times, our hearts caught in our throats as we watched her chest rise so slowly, we were so worried that she would be badly affected by the heat.  But she pulled through, happily.

The light rain continued for the rest of the day and night on Wednesday.  We got reports of areas family lived being affected by flooding.  Thankfully, everyone is safe, but my heart hurts for the people the government decided to leave out of the new levee system (“Yeah, we’re building a great new levee!  But you’re not important enough for us to worry about placing it outside of your homes!”)  The next day (Thursday), it stopped and started, but the breeze was weak.  Friday was bright and sunny, with no breeze.  We couldn’t take it on faith anymore that we would have power back soon, and fled to Gulfport, where Zack’s aunt pulled the Wonder Woman move of negotiating a low price for a beachfront condo rental.

I’d like to say it’s been heavenly here, and mostly it has.  The condo is beautiful.  The a/c works.  There’s a kiddie pool, large swimming pool, hot tub, and playground right outside of our condo.  The beach is across the street.  Zack’s aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother are nearby, and it’s always nice to see them.

But the fact remains that I am 8 months pregnant with unmedicated anxiety and still trying to process the way my family has suffered in the past week.  Presently I’m still swollen to a ridiculous degree from all of the preservatives and sodium a hurricane diet is filled with.  I’m emotionally unstable, worrying about what mess awaits at home- a broken front door, a wet kitchen (refrigerator/freezer thawing), kitchen stench (water conservation is important when you don’t know how stable the sewage system is- so no dishwashing for us), possible mold in the house (rain and humidity got in when the a/c went out, and we do have nothing but carpet floors), catching up on work and anticipating a hard few weeks catching up at school, the mess we left across our home in our rush to get out, birthday party invitations to write and send for Gwenna’s party in exactly one week, and an empty pantry and refrigerator to re-stock.

Then there was the incident involving a certain sweet child and a recliner.  Gwenna grabbed the extended foot of the recliner Zack was in and he responded with, “No, Gwenna!”, and just as soon, she shrieked out in pain.  I grabbed her immediately and saw blood covering her hand and couldn’t bring myself to look at it, I just ran to the bedroom to comfortably hold her close and calm her, and sent Zack to get a rag that I could use to put pressure on her hand, on which I still wasn’t sure where her injury was.  I shook and cried right along with her.  We were all relieved to find that she kept all of her fingers, but a big chunk was taken out of her pointer finger.  Zack’s aunt called the doctor who lives next door to her, and we went to see what he’d say.  My maternal instinct was to go straight to the emergency room and have them clean and fix it up and make sure it wasn’t broken, but there is no children’s hospital here.  Maternal confusion.  The doctor said that she was fine apart from the cut, and just to keep it bandaged and clean.  I still shudder when I think of it.

The visit here has been marred by obvious trauma as well as more subtle erosion of the patience, and I won’t get into that right now.  I will say that people tend to forget that I am 8 months pregnant and my husband is one of them (I love you honey).

We are still waiting on our power to come back on.  This is day 5.  For a barely-hurricane/mostly tropical storm to leave us in this way, I find myself feeling hopelessly angry with the energy company.  Our power went out before the storm even got there- a sign that they should have put more money into prevention measures.  Men are working long days and taking nights off, rather than the company bringing in even more men to work around the clock.  Because they won’t send men out at night, the restoration process began a number of hours after it could have started.  The small amount of money we will save over not having power for a week will in no way amount to the money we’ve had to spend to survive away from home.

So there’s my update.  We’re alive an well, albeit cranky and angry.  Too bad I can’t have a goddang margarita.

 

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Isaac!

We live in the New Orleans area.  This place is all in a tizzy over the coming storm… and I’m just a little bit excited.

As someone who never evacuated for these storms as a kid, I’m prepared for the annoyances with waiting for the electricity to get turned on again, for the schools to open again, for the traffic lights to work again.  But this time, I’m the mom!  I’m the one in charge of preparing our home for the storm and cuddling with the baby when the wind and thunder get scary.  I’m the one she’s going to look to for reassurance that it is all fine, and we’re going to go on this adventure together.

I know it’s not all fun and games, though.  I didn’t leave for Katrina, and dealt with no electricity or water for who knows how long.  I remember roads being blocked everywhere from downed trees, and holes in people’s homes.  I remember the reports of flooding all around.  I remember the aftermath, and going to work at the drug store while the National Guard kept us company and we snacked on MREs for meals.

I wouldn’t say we should stay if this storm was a Category 3 or above.  I would not have my little one and the belly in the middle of a disaster like that.  But at the rate it’s going, which will maybe have it at a Category 1 when it hits, this is just a rite of passage for us.

We are away from trees and on the second floor.  We have stocked up on water, batteries, matches, paper plates, toilet paper, non-refrigerated food that doesn’t need to be cooked.  I’m cooking all of our meat today, in case electricity goes out and the refrigerator doesn’t work.  Baking brownies to use some of the eggs, and boiling the rest.  We borrowed an air mattress for our nanny and her husband, who live on the bottom floor in a flood zone, so they’ll be over to keep us company (yay!).  We have board games ready and I’m doing all the dishes, laundry, and cleaning today.  Laptops and phones are staying on charge all day.

A massive amount of crispy cooked bacon- I would surely never let a pack of bacon rot in the de-powered refrigerator!

Bring it on, Isaac.  Let’s turn this home into a camp ground!

Aside
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Tonight’s post is partly a response to this post on Mama Birth (someone I read often, and mostly enjoy), which is a response to this article.

Both of these were a pain in my butt.  The article, mostly- because I don’t believe that a woman’s success is defined by her career and hindered by a family.  That’s incredibly narrow-minded.  I don’t believe that women who turn their cheek to abuse from men, no matter how well they play with the boys, are to be admired.  I don’t believe that women developing personalities that mimic those of the most obnoxious men is really the answer to the question of gender equality.

Nope, there’s no doubt that article made me roll my eyes.

On the other hand… the extreme response at Mama Birth, and mostly the comments on “immorality” in a “hook-up culture” also upset me.  I definitely don’t think women should use sex to validate themselves, or practice unsafe sex, or use sex as a means of manipulation.  However, Mama Birth never mentioned anything about these specifics- we just got a general statement about hookups being immoral or something.

I know that much of the Attachment Parenting/Natural Family Lifestyle community is religious, and I know that the bible has much to say on sexual involvement.  I don’t have a particular religious affiliation.  I do, however, take much issue with parts of the bible- usually the Old Testament, especially when taken literally.  Reading about marriage in the Old Testament is reading a slave code.  I am not exaggerating, and I think the majority of people are aware that women were traded away into arranged marriages and treated as property (just check out the bible verses mandating a woman who was raped to marry her rapist– it’s the punishment for the rapist, apparently!).  Does this mean the entire bible and the entire religion of Christianity is evil?  Certainly not, but I do feel like it’s enough to beg us to consider that the “morals” of these particular passages are no longer relevant.

That Old Testament thinking, by the way, is what crushed me after my first relationship, since the world had told me since forever and ever that any girl who lost her virginity and didn’t marry the guy was a tramp.  The “good girls” don’t give it up easily.  The best of them obviously only give it up to their husbands on their wedding night!  If you don’t love a man you sleep with, you’re a whore.  Your age and the amount of men you’ve been with is directly proportional to what you’re worth.  Your virginity is something you treasure, and only give away if you’re SURE he’s not a jackass.  If he leaves you, you didn’t wait long enough to give it up, and he obviously left because you’re a slut.

Nevermind that our culture and our biology pushes us toward sex.  Nevermind that expecting these things of young women (expectations born in a time when women and their vaginas were property) is unfair and setting them all up to fail.  When a young woman inevitably gets that v-card punched and then gets her heart broken, she’s left to wonder why her special gift wasn’t enough to keep him around.  She mourns the loss of her first love and the label she proudly carried: “the good girl.”  She no longer knows who she is.  She may cut herself off emotionally from any type of intimacy, having been hurt so severely from her first intimate experience.  And often, rather than having someone there to guide her through the heartache and tell her that she is every bit as beautiful and valuable as she was before he came along, she has brainwashed women parrot to her that she should keep her legs closed next time, make them wait longer.

It’s heartbreaking.
Ladies, we are no longer property.  We are expected to take full responsibility of our sexuality- and why are we so ashamed of that?  So many women have complained before me about the double-standard of sexuality; men are worth more when they’re more sexually active, and precisely the opposite seems to be true of women.  But what is so inherently, inarguably immoral about a teenage girl sharing her first time with someone she loves (don’t forget the protection)?  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the girls who choose to do it.

I must concede, though, that women who have meaningless one night stands are just simply immoral, right?  No… definitely not buying that.  Why should I?  If a woman is having a good time with someone on a particular night and feels a physical attraction, she might want to see where it goes.  She might intend to keep up some sort of relationship.  She might be under the impression that he’ll stick around like she wants him to, or she might just be enjoying the moment.  Single nights can mean something.  They can be lovely memories alone, or they can turn into many nights.  Where, in any of the above, does one arrive at the conclusion that a person who wants to connect with another person is evil, wrong, or immoral?  And above all, who is the authority who gets to decide that any of someone else’s sexual experiences are meaningless?

I will say this: I know that it’s harder for women to remain unattached, emotionally.  Our hormones push us more in the direction of commitment than men’s hormones do for them.  For that reason, I will make sure both of my little girls know that they should be smart about who they get physical with.  I will make sure they know that their precious hearts are on the line when they decide to cross that line… but I’m not going to pretend that teenagers haven’t been sexually active since puberty was placed right at the beginning of those teenage years.  I’m not going to pretend that any teenage girl who falls in love won’t want to share that experience with the surely-undeserving guy (because no one is ever good enough for our children) she falls for.

And I certainly don’t want them to feel worthless if they don’t marry the first guys they sleep with.  If guys end up breaking their hearts, I’m sure it won’t be because either of them are “sluts”, or some other goofy word with an ever-changing, offensive meaning.  I don’t want them to suffer a debilitating identity crisis when they’ve only just begun to define themselves.

So, to summarize what I want for my daughters: if you marry the guy you lose your virginity to, that’s wonderful.  I hope you have a happy relationship for the rest of your life and never have to deal with heartache from him.  But, if you’re like most of us who think we make solid and researched decisions and still don’t get our happily ever afters on the first try, please do not think you are immoral.  Please don’t think you’re a bad woman for not choosing the right man, or not being able to keep the one you thought was right.  Please don’t build your self-esteem upon your ability to abstain (an intimate relationship with the right person is not something to be ashamed of).  And please don’t ever be afraid to come to me with your broken hearts, so I can help you pick it all up and point out just how beautiful it is, and how amazing you are.