When I was 13 we moved across the country. One of those fancy planes with the awesome stairs to that up top room in first class. My mom is there. She is 39 at the time. I have no idea that this is young. But it was. Is.
I go up these really cool stairs and find my mom talking with this man. And smiling. And laughing and having a really good time. I feel uncomfortable about this and do not stay up there very long. It is the first time I think of my mom as a sexual person. Though, in all truth, I probably do not have those thoughts at this time. They are adult thoughts and I am 13 and so am just uncomfortable and do not stay long up there with them.
I remember this now because I was out recently with some friends. I had a great time. It was just one of those nights where everything feels really good. The people are easy. The drinks flow freely. The music is live and so fine.
And that sexual banter that I fall into—my way in the world when I am out like this—I was grooving on that all night (grooving, haha, where did I pull this word from…)
And my daughter is with me.
We talk about this on the way home. My way of being in the world on this night. We start this conversation and I feel surprised by how uncomfortable she feels seeing me. But then she says something really interesting to me, she says she is me. That she sees herself in me. And she struggles with whether this is ok.
It is very ok, I say. Our sexuality is an important part of who we are as women. It is powerful. Celebrating it feels good. There is no shame in this.
This is a really good conversation I am blessed to have with my daughter. My now adult daughter. My 21-year-old daughter. And a really incredible opportunity to reinforce to her that she is perfect in anything that she is.
Being a young women is really complicated. The barrage of images laced with suggestive innuendo or blatant sexual messaging is contrasted by reports of rape and sexual assault and the suggestion that these events were perhaps brought on by the women themselves.
It is dangerous to be sexual. Flirting at a college party leads to date rape because she wanted it. Terms like cock tease are thrown at any young woman who does not follow through. Embracing your sexuality and allowing it to be seen is considered an invitation for more.
And so for my daughter, to see me—be me, that brought up all those concerns about how she too will be perceived in the world. And how she should best celebrate the beautiful, dynamic and yes, sexual woman that she continues to become. And how she can best navigate this strange and often unsafe time that she lives in.
When I saw my mom in that plane I do not recall that I felt it was me that I saw there. But I do still remember a discomfort in my stomach, where my truth lives. And I still see her sitting there, the image so clear, which means the memory is important.
I will continue to share stories like this with my daughter. We will have more to talk about. And she will settle in and ground into her true self. And she, too, will find a way to stand firmly in who she truly is while soaring through her life.