Rulers of Our Own Castles

I have been thinking about this blog a lot lately.

Growing up I was taught that I was a piece of property owned by my parents.

Heads up Mum, I am not racking on you, I am just stating how it was. I don’t really think it was a malicious idea that my parents came up with, it was traditional way of raising children, especially daughters.

I was taught there were certain ways I was to look. I couldn’t dye my hair until I was a bit older (and could pay for it myself…that makes sense) and I also wasn’t allowed to get tattoos (I did when I was 16 anyways) or piercings (which I also did at age 18).

Sex was also a super taboo no-no.

I never really had anyone to talk to about my sexual inclinations or how to protect myself. What I learned about sex was what I learned in sex-ed, TV and from what my older sisters joked about.

So, at a young age, I learned that my body was a temple, but it also wasn’t fully mine… until the day I realized I actually did have complete control.

There came a point where what my parents told me and demanded of me no longer aligned with what I wanted to be. I wanted to control my own self and I guess that came in the form of rebellion. I am also quite the polar opposite when it comes to some of the views of my parents. Piercings and tattoos can be beautiful and also reminders of life experiences. Sex is a fundamental part of life. There is no such thing as sluts.

I find the idea of basing someone’s worth solely on the amount of people they have had sex with completely absurd. As long as the sex is consensual, they aren’t sleeping with your partner, breaking up another relationship, or purposefully spreading STDs, why the fuck would you care what someone does with their body? Also, sex is (mostly) awesome… so… shaming someone for having an awesome time doesn’t make any sense to me.

So, here I am, the mother of two girls. One of my girls is almost 14 years old and the other is 2 and a half. I don’t have much to worry about with the toddler yet… besides keeping her alive and preventing her from tearing our house apart, but my teenage daughter is at that age where she needs a lot more guidance.

My ideas on these subjects could all backfire on me, but I am hoping they won’t.

What I want to instill in my daughters is that when they can fully comprehend the idea – THEY get to decide how they wish to treat their own bodies.

What? Hold the phone. I am not saying my small child knows when she should be able to get a tattoo or anything – there is definitely an age when I think it is more acceptable for them to be able to choose those things.

What is that age? Um, probably different for each of them?

The biggest factor is how the communication flows between us.

  • Are we able to have an open conversation about the repercussions of some of their choices?
  • Is what they are feeling a fleeting idea or a thought coming from peer pressure? Or is it something they have been thinking for a long time and know the pros and cons?
  • Can I trust their judgement and can they trust my advice?
  • 1 MILLION other things that I can’t list here.

I can feel when my oldest is really serious about something. She is probably more mature than most girls her age and it can be a real eye-opener for me sometimes.

So, when the idea was brought forth to me that she wanted to get her nose pierced I thought of all of these things and more. I also had the fleeting thought that my parents (her grandparents) would be pretty upset if their grandbaby visited them with a new piece of ice in her nose. But, it didn’t stop me from having an open conversation with my kid. If anyone is willing to go up to bat for her daughter making the decisions about her own body, it’s me.

The discussion about the nose piercing lasted about four weeks in our house. I had my nose pierced before and flat out told her that it hurts, mine became infected and kind of looked like a big boog on my nose. It didn’t suit me. If the idea of these things didn’t phase her, she was probably more serious than I thought. She also had to pay for it herself… or so I told her.

Then the text came one day from her Dad – we are pretty lucky that we are both pretty rad, because I don’t think my Dad would have ever have opened up this door – and the text said, “Hey what do you think of M. getting her nose pierced?” Since we had been talking about it at our house for quite some time, I told him that when it boils down to it, a piercing is just a hole. A nose piercing won’t change her in any other way besides putting a tiny hole in her face. A nose piercing doesn’t open the doors for undesirable behaviours like underage drinking or drugs or prostitution. It is just a tiny hole in her face filled with a pretty gem.

Lo’ and behold, Teenager and Her Dad were close to a reputable piercing shop – and honestly, I am not even sure I would have wanted to be there in person – so they walked in and she got her piercing. The only request I had was that I got sent a video. She took it like a champ and much better than I did when I was 18.

But, what I am really hoping she got from the experience was that she is the ruler of her own castle – her body. She get to make the decisions of what happens to it, how it is modified and how it is used. I hope with all of my heart that it gives her strength to say “NO” when she means it and “YES” when she feels it. I hope it gives her confidence that she can not be used like a toy and also that she can respect her body for what it is…

Her temple, her castle, her self.

 

Love Yourself,

Allison

PS) She’s a beauty inside and out!

love love love

 

Guest Post #1 – By “M.”

This is the first Guest Post here on Waking Up Thirty. 

We all go through different trials and tribulations in life – how we battle them is much more defining than the actual outcome in a lot of instances. 

Cheers to “M.” for being brave and sharing their story.


M Gp

By “M.”

In January, I wrote a list of goals for 2016. I am not a fan of resolutions but I do believe if you write things down there is a better chance of them being crossed off and accomplished. The list included items like drink more water, plan trips not purchases, breathe, compete with myself not others, Do Mud Hero, Not Since Moses run and 10km at Maritime Race weekend, Love myself, be in bed by 10pm, Go to church more regularly, more day trips as a family, more get togethers with friends, Seek Joy and At the top of the list, Get Pregnant and have another baby.

Well it is more than half way through the year and I am still not pregnant and we started trying about 6 months before I wrote that list. I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened yet. With my first, it happened quickly. There are reasons I’m sure. Physical reasons, emotional reasons, timing, purpose etc…  Trying not to focus on it is an exercise in futility. Instead I try to listen to all the subtle truths being revealed. Truthfully it amazes me how we multi-task in this life. We carry on in our day to day (jobs, doctors appointments, friendships, family obligations) while just under the surface or behind closed doors we balance the emotions and struggle we experience in the waiting, in the living, in the knowing of not knowing, in the realization that we can only control so much. This is true of so many of life’s experiences not just trying to conceive. I’ve seen it in my friends and colleagues who care for their ailing parents or battle illnesses all while showing up for work , taking care of their kids and all with such strength and grace. It’s Amazing.

As a planner, someone who makes lists and crosses items off and someone who isn’t particularly fond of change, when you are ready to embrace a new life altering change and it just doesn’t happen it’s unsettling. I remember a quote from Ruth Houtby at the pulpit “Losing Control is losing the illusion that we were ever in control to begin with” This quote has had so much meaning in so many situations for me and yet I keep hearing it and learning it in different contexts. It feels particularly relevant right now.

I read this article the other day about how to support a friend through infertility. It made me realize three things. 1. We are not alone in this experience 2. I have some amazing friends. 3. The last paragraph… “At the end of the day, whether you are able to have the family you desire or not you will be made a better person by the experience.” Katie Hintz-Zambrano writes “While that is not an easy thing to tell a friend (or hear), it’s a reality of the experience. You will be a better parent, friend, sister, wife, person in general.” I would extend this to husbands and fathers as well.

I truly feel this. Even though it is hard and a struggle not knowing when and/or if it will happen for us again, it is shaping me and our family, growing us and challenging us to be more appreciative of the family we do have and more willing to explore new experiences and take more chances. We are living life more fully, more presently.

Have you ever written an “I am” list? You know the ones where you write “I am…” at the top of the page and then fill the page with positive affirmations about yourself? It’s big in the self-help world. Anyway I have. I am kind, I am generous, I am a loyal, I am happy yadda yadda… I get about two lines in and start trying to think about how I can re-frame negative self talk to be positive. (Side note: why do we carry such negative self-beliefs) But one truth I know is that I am a good friend. I care deeply about my friends and I prioritize maintaining friendships. It brings me joy to sit with friends and connect, no matter what the topic or context.  It is equally joyful and challenging to connect with friends who are experiencing something in their lives you wish to be experiencing in your own. When you are trying to get pregnant you become that much more aware of all the pregnant people around you. I have experienced so many emotions as my friends experience pregnancy and the birth of their children, some for the first time and others the second time around: excitement, joy, jealousy, resentment, gratitude, sadness, guilt, longing.  I have also become a more sensitive friend. I am that much more aware of the questions I ask or  how I talk about my own child with others. It is so easy to complain about sleepless nights, how whiny your child is or the general struggles of parenting. I no longer take these things for granted.

In the midst of a particularly rough weekend which corresponded with sleep deprivation, PMS and the cycle that is the roller-coaster of emotions one experiences when trying to get pregnant (sorry if TMI) our family sought refuge at my mom’s. After I left she wrote to me. She said “You need to be more kind to yourself and trust your instincts. You are a good person. Sometimes I think you need to reverse the golden rule and do unto/for yourself as you would do unto/for others. Love you”

It meant the world to me to read those words from her. I felt as though she looked at me and really saw me. She saw me where I am currently and said exactly the words I needed to hear.

I know I am so lucky to have had a successful pregnancy the first time around and to have a loving husband and awesome little boy. Throughout and as a result of this experience I have also had the opportunity to cross off some of the other items on my list such as competing with myself and not others, running a few races, planning trips not purchases, taking time to breathe, practicing self-care and mindfully seeking Joy.  What Katie Hintz-Zambrano writes is true. I am a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister and person for having this experience. I am learning and growing. I am present enough to recognize that there are so many known and unknowns becoming manifest and in the midst of it all, I have hope.

  • “M.”

 

Thank you so much for the entry, “M.” 

I think we can all agree that life doesn’t always give us what we want, but it has a way of giving us what we need. 

Here’s to the strong ones who push through!

 

Love Yourself,

Allison