Why is it so hard for me to tell things to my mother?
I must have been conditioned to keep things to myself. I can't remember any defining moment when this rule was taught, but its effects have been plaguing me for most of my life.
The first time I remember challenging this rule was when I was about 11. I had been out riding my bike and had taken a nasty spill in the road. I landed face down in the gravel, smacking into the handlebars with my chest. There was one very distinct round red bruise right above my left breast.
Knowing an opportunity when I saw it, I began to formulate a plan. I was going to have to take off my shirt to show the bruise to my mom and that was when I was going to do it.
Standing in the kitchen, my mother watching with concern, I began to peel my t-shirt off over my head. Just when my body was exposed and my face fully covered with my shirt, I said, "Mom, I need a bra." I don't remember if that worked, but it at least started the conversation.
The next big conversation was not long after the bike incident.
I had seen the filmstrip in fifth grade about "becoming a woman" and had 3 older sisters, but I still wasn't ready when I got my first period. These were the days when you had to wear this contraption like a garter to hold the pad in place. Try asking your mom about how to use that!
I think they made tampons back then, but you weren't supposed to wear them until you were married. At least that's what Mom said.
I managed to avoid all other possibly traumatic conversations that could have come up during high school and college. There was just no way I was talking about boys or sex with my mother. She wasn't talking about it with me either. This worked for us. Well, it worked until she found out I was using tampons. Then she was worried.
I was very clever when I broached the subject of marriage. My boyfriend and I stopped to visit my parents and I told my mom that I had a sewing project and that I needed her help. Then I showed her the pattern for the wedding dress. Mom took one look and collapsed into a chair. Then she hollered for Dad.
It was always best to tell Dad through Mom. I think this was another rule - it may have been my own. Hey, it was hard enough to tell these things to my own mother - I had no idea how to communicate with my dad.
My dress turned out beautiful, by the way. Wish I could still squeeze into it.
There's not much we can't talk about now, although it's still hard to talk to her about boys. Since we didn't talk about them when I was a teenager, I feel kind of embarrassed talking about them now.
I know that she's hoping that I find that someone special so that I can live happily ever after. She and Dad are in their 60th year of marriage!
I don't think we will be sewing my next wedding gown, but I sure hope that "Mom, I've met someone…" is a conversation I will still get to have with her.
Thankfully, we won't ever have to go through that bra thing again. And I'm pretty adept with the feminine hygiene products these days. I suppose in a few years we may be having a tête-à-tête about menopause but I'm willing to put that off as long as possible.