I believe in honesty: pure unadulterated honesty. The following is an anecdote to illustrate why I would believe in such a thing.
When I was in labor with my first natural child, Sophia, I asked my sister Liz, to videotape the birthing process….. I remember telling her to try to get “the whole thing” on the tape. As I gave birth to my little girl though, directing this home movie was the last thing on my mind.
The day after my deliverance from the wonderful, yet symbiotic little girl inside me, I went over to my mom’s house to show off my new baby. As I walked up the stairs, I realized it was really quiet, unusual for a house with six kids living in it. I made my way into the den and was horrified at what I saw. There on the television screen, larger than life, was a picture of me, legs spread wide, with my daughter’s head emerging from my “birth canal” . Apparently, Liz’s vision of getting “the whole thing” did not involve an aesthetic approach. Her vision was twenty minutes of reel to reel, blunt, unadulterated infant emergence.
To make matters even worse, my brother Joseph, nine years old, and his best friend Dane, ten, were completely engrossed with this graphic birthing smut! I yelled at my mother “Mom! Why are you letting them watch this?” I turned to the kids. “What the is wrong with you guys?” I turned it off as fast as I could. My new mothering sensibilities could not stand for this sort of thing! My mother hollered at me from her crocheting in the adjacent room: “Dane’s mom said it would be ok for him to watch the birth video. It’s good education”.
The icing on the cake came when, with absolute frankness, my brother Joseph asks me “Jamie, are all women’s butt holes that close to their vaginas?” What was I supposed to say here? I just stood there, shocked and dumfounded. The boys waited patiently with inquiring looks on their faces. After what seemed like an hour, I pulled it together. “Joseph”, I said, with a snotty tone to my voice, “I imagine most women’s anatomy looks just about the same”. The floodgates opened. Question after question flooded forth from both the boys. “How does the baby get food while it is inside of you?” “How does your stomach stretch so far? How does it feel to be pregnant?” The two boys were truly interested in the cycle of human reproduction. What I thought was kind of a smart-alecky attempt to get my goat, was really a sincere desire to understand something totally foreign to these silly little boys.
I stopped feeling so bothered by the graphic nature of my birth video and answered their questions as best I could. After all, if they weren’t bothered by it, why should I be? I just gave birth in front of a whole room of people and a video camera and wasn’t shy! Why start now? I found that I can draw a pretty mean uterus and fallopian tubes. After about thirty minutes of frank and honest dialogue, and diagrams, the boys had a newly found and well informed appreciation for the woman’s body and childbearing.
I was so empowered by this situation. As Dane put it with eyes round in disbelief “women sure can do a lot of amazing stuff”.
They sure can, Dane.
I found out that even with children, honesty, measured with some humor, is truly the best policy. Honesty taught me to be unashamed of my body and its natural functions. Honesty taught two little boys to appreciate women and their bodies. Honesty…. It’s something I can believe in.
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