Tuesday, February 28

Why I don't tell my mom anything

This is a story about something that happened to me. It has no theological, or philosophical implications. I can't think of any way to make it more than just something that happened to me. So even though this is technically off-topic for this blog, it's my blog so I'll post it anyways. Complaints, if any, may be submitted below.

My brother got married when I was 13. His wife was tall, athletic and pretty. She had two younger sisters, who were both older than me. They too, were tall, athletic and beautiful. Her dad was a career Marine, he was big, loud and scary. Her mom was one of those pushy women that have a way of making anyone feel like they're five years old. They were all new and unfamiliar to me, we first met on the day before their wedding.

They got married in Colorado because it was the halfway point between where her family and my family lived. After the wedding we all drove to Missouri for their first reception.

About halfway through the reception I started to feel funny. I went to the bathroom and was shocked to see that I had started to menstruate for the first time. Menarche.

I had already gone through several years of sex ed, and knew exactly what was happening, but I didn't know what to do about it. I went and got my mom. I didn't want to tell her there in the cultural hall, so I made her come with me into the bathroom. When I told her, she asked to see my underwear. I didn't want to show her my panties, but knew better than her argue with her. She looked at them and said "Yep, that's it. Just put some toilet paper there and you'll be fine." She left me there, saying that she needed to get back to the receiving line.

Before I went back out I looked at myself in the mirror. "So," I thought, "I'm a woman now, huh?" I didn't feel like a woman. I felt like a short, flat chested 13 year old with goofy hair and wads of toilet paper in her drawers. I had expected to feel pretty. To be tall. To be cool.

When I entered the cultural hall again, my mom was most definitely not in the recieving line. She was standing in a circle of people, including my dad, brother, new sister-in-law, both of her sisters, and her parents. They all turned to me with knowing smiles, my mom had told them all.

I went over to her with intentions of telling her that what she had just done was not cool. As I approached the others wafted away into their own little groups. I asked my mom "Why did you tell them? I didn't want them to know." She made her angry face, and said "It's very special, they deserved to know."

Dad? Sure. My brother? Maybe. His wife? probably not. Her sisters, and Mom? No. Her dad? Heck no!

I was furious, and went to my sisters at the refreshment table to complain. They too got mad at me, and told me that mom is just that way and I shouldn't have expected anything else. That was one of the last times I told my mom anything personal. Every other time I told her something personal I regretted it later, just like I regretted this.


Anonymous said...


I obviously know nothing about your family dynamics aside from these brief glimpses you've shared, but my first thought is, your mom's behavior/mindset I consider somewhat atypical and slightly messed up. This example here indicates a great deal of insensitivity (guess she was never an awkward girl entering puberty, huh?). I'm beginning to understand now why you've got some issues.

And of course I'm still curious as to if anyone got dinner when your dad was out of town...? ;o)

Granted, parenting doesn't come with an instruction manual, but some things are simply a matter of just plain common sense.

As to your previous post, did your dad order your mom around, or was that a role she was happy to play?

I don't suppose your mom considers feminism a worthy pursuit? Does she have any inkling of your feelings along these lines (does she read this blog? -- hi mom!)? Would she be horrified? How about your sisters? Ever discuss any of this with them (out of mom's earshot)? Just curious. Is your brother's treatment of his spouse equitable, or is he perpetuating your parents messed up roles?

Forgive me if I'm making any huge, unjustified leaps or ASSumptions -- I'm just an outsider here trying to make sense of the bits and pieces you've dropped along the way.

I'll share a classic parenting moment with you. When my oldest was about 14, I was working in the basement, removing some old sheetrock from the ceiling, when she approached me unabashedly, and point-blank asked me, "Dad, what's oral sex?"

I'd be interested to hear how your mom or dad might have responded if it was you that was asking (how would you have responded as a parent)?


Posted by Rich

Anonymous said...

"And of course I'm still curious as to if anyone got dinner when your dad was out of town...? ;o)"

I cannot remember my dad ever being out of town without my mom. The man can't go anywhere without her, even home depot. She doesn't get a lot of personal time.

My mom married my dad when she was 16. As far as I know, all of her opinions are the same as my dad's, and from what I understand my dad belonged to the John Birch society for years. They think I'm a flaming liberal, and I've never discussed feminism with them. Since I'm the youngest the status-quo was pretty much set by the time I arrived. When things didn't happen the way they always did, my dad was the king of passive-aggression.(*sigh* there's no fork here, guess I'll just eat these eggs with my hands.) I've never heard my mom complain. Then again, not complaining doesn't mean happy.

Issues? You think I have issues? Well you're right. I have lots of issues. My whole family has lots of issues. I'm one of the 2 kids out of six who hasn't yet been prescribed antidepressant medication and counselling, and I'm not sure I haven't needed it.

As far as if my family reads this, no they don't and I hope they never do. That is a major reason why I haven't used my real name, or posted a picture of me.

Re:the oral sex question I'm guessing my mom's immediate answer would be "It's a sin. Something homosexuals do." or "you haven't done it have you?" Then after confirming that I'm not a sinner she'd explain the mechanics. I would never have asked my dad that.

My response (I hope) would be, "I'm glad you asked me," (as opposed to googling it, or asking friends.) Explain the basic mechanics and then have a discussion on praying for guidance with premarital affection, and praying for help with setting boundaries in marital sex.  

Posted by Starfoxy

Anonymous said...

I wonder if "issues" aren't more common than we realize. They run in my family too. I had a two-month stint with anti-depressants that I'm not sure I needed, but therapy with a good counselor did wonders for me.

I really like your imagined response. It's affirming and turns a moment of honest query and vulnerability into an opportunity for spiritual and emotional teaching. You also involve your child (and God) in searching for answers, rather than taking the authoritative, or worse, the evasive route ("um, go ask your father!"). 

Posted by John

Anonymous said...

These are stories that men do not often hear, or at least not in much detail.

My daughter's first period occurred at age 10, late at night in a snowstorm, during a week when my wife was out of town. It was not comfortable to be the only adult available that night, but I don't remember it as an awful experience either. I had formerly run WIC, Head Start, a transitional women's shelter, and health education projects, and she was probably a little less inhibited about talking to me than other girls might have been with their fathers. At least she didn't hide it and she wasn't alone.

However, we have never talked about it in the intervening five years. I wonder how her narrative would go if she was an adult writing about it. I wonder if I was OK, if I did and said the right things. Did I really do an awful job that she will mortify her forever? Is it the outrageous conceit of the male former health educator that deludes me into thinking that I was an acceptable emergency substitute for my wife or a trusted female friend, or that she somehow found me more approachable than the average dad? My wife says that she never has mentioed it as an embarassing issue, but who knows?

Not everything is knowable, and truth sometimes appears to change with time.


Posted by Gray

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