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Single+1

Sarah Fowler

Disclaimer: If you are my mother, please stop reading now. If you blush easily and/or are easily offended, please feel free to do the same. If not, carry on. I’ve wanted to write this column for a while now but haven’t had the courage or the motivation to actually do it. However, something happened yesterday that changed all that. Prinny and I were in the car, driving and singing along with the radio when a Katy Perry song came on. I wasn’t really paying attention to the words until I heard my five year, singing her little heart out, belt out the lyric “then we had a menage a trois…last Friday night.” Trust me, I started paying attention. I snapped off the radio and quickly put in a Disney CD hoping the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid could erase what she just heard, and worse yet, repeated and seemed to know by heart. Later that afternoon, we were watching the beloved Disney channel when yet another sexual reference was made. That’s it. This Mommy has had enough. Yes, it is my responsibility to filter the things that my daughter is exposed to but dang it, aren’t I supposed to be able to trust that society won’t bombard my kindergartner with blatant sexual innuendos at every available opportunity? I am very well aware that one day we will have to have the “birds and the bees talk” but it seems that pop culture is having that conversation with her well before she is ready for it, and quite frankly, well before I am ready for it. Short of building a bunker underground and cutting off all forms of communication to the outside world, what am I supposed to do? In the famous words of Salt N’ Pepa “Let’s talk about sex baby.”
I have had great reservations about writing a column about sex. I don’t want to be seen as a trashy columnist who has hit the bottom of the barrel and has nothing left to talk about but taboo topics. More over, I don’t want my daughter to stumble across this when she is 16 and be completely embarrassed. Yet when it comes to sex maybe a little embarrassment would do us all some good. I was in 9th grade when Britney Spears came out with her infamous video “Hit Me Baby One More Time” where she donned a school girl outfit, pigtails, and a midriff flashing her belly button ring. Being a somewhat overweight teenager, I didn’t get it. But then, a few short years later and 20 pounds lighter, there I was sitting in some side of the road tattoo parlor on my 18th birthday getting my belly button pierced. In the next two years I morphed into a girl that I nor my parents recognized. My shirts started getting tighter and my skirts started getting shorter. It is by the sheer grace of God that I didn’t get some regrettable tramp stamp tattoo of a butterfly on my lower back. I look back at pictures from that period in my life and “embarrassed” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I wonder what Prinny will want to dress like at 16, 18, and 20 and what kind of argument I can make without her throwing “You did it, why can’t I?” back in my face. The answer I will give her isn’t a pretty one.
I kissed a boy for the first time when I was a senior in high school. Nearly three years later, and two months short of my 20th birthday, I was pregnant with Prinny and a glaring statistic. I was a pregnant teenager. Now as a mother of a little girl I am scared to death that she will be yet another statistic. Please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. My daughter is the reason I live and breathe and there isn’t a second of the day where I can imagine my life without her. I don’t regret anything about the way she was brought into this world and we have built a wonderful life. That being said, our lives wouldn’t be the way they are if we didn’t have such an amazing support system-a support system that most girls in my situation aren’t fortunate enough to have. My parents, former in laws and my friends have rallied around us and while I am a “single mom” we have an incredible extended family that many young girls in my position do not. Even still, it’s unbelievably hard. There are blessings and triumphs but at the end of the day, I’m a 26 year old divorced single mommy. How do you tell your daughter that yes baby, you are the pride and joy of my life but please don’t be like me? I want her to graduate college, fall in love, get married and then have a baby. What she doesn’t understand is that while it is possible to get pregnant and balance life and motherhood at such a young age, it’s an uphill battle from the word go. I don’t want that unnecessary struggle for her.
Even though I can personally attest to the trials and tribulations of being a single mom, what scares me the most isn’t the idea of my baby having a baby. What keeps me up at night, what terrifies me right down to my core is the fact that teenage pregnancy is becoming the social norm. Kids are having sex at an increasingly young age and as parents, there has to be another option besides sticking our heads in the sand repeating the mantra “My child would never do that.” I hear horror stories about sexting, “rainbow parties” and what actually happens in the back seat of a public school bus and while it terrifies me as a parent, it breaks my heart as well. I don’t want that for my daughter. I don’t want her to lose her innocence in the back of Ford pickup after a football game. I’m not just talking about her virginity, I’m talking about the sweet innocence that makes her who she is. I don’t want my daughter growing up with an ambivalent attitude about sex. I want her to know that it is supposed to be special, with someone she loves and with someone who loves her and I want her to be old enough to truly understand what that means.
As a mother, I realize that if I want Prinny to see sex in a different light than her peers do, see it for what it truly is and what it’s meant to be, that conversation has to start at home. I know she’s only five but one day in the too-near-future she’s going to be presented with the option to have sex. When that happens I want her to be able to think back to our conversations instead of having to rely on the advice of MTV. I need to talk to her about sex, teach her to respect herself as young girl and hope she carries that attitude with her through her teenage years and into adulthood. When it comes to the topic of sex and discussing it with my daughter, I would much rather have a “before” conversation than an “after.”

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11 comments

  1. “Yes, it is my responsibility to filter the things that my daughter is exposed to but dang it, aren’t I supposed to be able to trust that society won’t bombard my kindergartner with blatant sexual innuendos at every available opportunity?” The short answer to your question is No! Society is not marketing music; big music corporations are. The last couple of decades should have taught us all that ethics and business no longer go together–one goal: PROFIT. By the way, Katy Perry left her Christian roots years ago; somehow; you might want to raise the setting on your child filter…

  2. Sharon B

    16? I guarantee she Googles you before her 13th birthday. I would stop writing about your sexcaspades and the different men in your life and write about being a single mom. The title of this column implies a column about a single woman and her life with her daughter. Get away from the Springer audience and move on to a more mature adult reader base and write something that your daughter can be proud of.
    Statistics are not on your side. Teen moms beget teen moms. Single moms beget single moms. SHOW her how raise above that by raising above it yourself.

  3. Single -3.

    You did it.. I am impressed. You came up with a piece in which no male should offer any comment, favorable or unfavorable, i.e. “the talk” between mother and daughter. All I can say about this special time is if you want it to be a “before” conversation, you should go ahead and start breaking the ice now. BTW nice cleavers.

  4. Chris

    These BOYS need to take some responsibility.

    From an teenage lover, to an unwed mother
    Kept undercover, like some bad dream
    While unwed fathers, they can’t be bothered
    They run like water, through a mountain stream

    – John Prine

    Check out the song. Its right on point.

    http://youtu.be/uVXCVKqpw1s

  5. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    I don’t want to be seen as a trashy columnist who has hit the bottom of the barrel and has nothing left to talk about but taboo topics.

    Too late for that.

  6. Lindsey

    Mississippi has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country and has for over a decade. If more Mississippians had this approach to “the talk” in addition to showing the Bible, then I believe that rate would decrease. I also believe the rate would decrease if schools in Mississippi not only taught abstinence but also practicing safe sex. Also, showing them the pictures of what stds look like, videos of what could happen after sex, and those trials and tribulations of teenage motherhood. I saw all of those in our high school health class and if I were pregnant at 20 then I would have been another Virgin Mary.

    I have met plenty of Mississippi teenage girls who are convinced they cannot get pregnant from their first time. Education is key and it definitely starts in the home.

  7. SlowDave

    Sex Education is the key to lowering the pregnancy rate for teen’s. It would appear that “parents in the south” cannot understand this. The bible never has and never will keep anyone from getting pregnant; we are in the “bible belt” !! Sex education should be taught in schools starting at the age of twelve.

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