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I've been thinking a lot lately about sex, how it weaves through our lives. It's complex, and so hard to put words to. Thank you for finding a way.

I get nervous even reading what you write about it! and I was a BIO major for peets sake! I want my daughters to feel comfortable talking to me about sex, so with all things related to parenthood, I have just jumped into the conversation and am figuring it out as I go. I'll let you know in 30 years how it is going!

Jess and Fleming--thank you, thank you, for writing; I needed to hear from someone after writing this because I felt too exposed and filled with anxiety after publishing it-- that voice that says "good girls don't like it" or at least don't admit to it publicly.

Sex. Such a little word with tremendous power. But I guess, as scary as it is, a part of me wants to free myself from the shame and sexism and politics and all those crazy layers that often keep girls/women from enjoying it.

Anyways, thank you both for writing. Flem, keep me posted on how those conversations go:)

Once again, you write what is raw and true. Thank you for your honesty and openness. It's amazing how society, history - you name it, has created something so natural to be so taboo. Thanks for putting it out there, part of the healing process I believe.

Thanks Audrey, and you're right about it being part of the healing process; there was a time when I spoke publicly about my negative experience with sex, attended Take Back the Night rallies, wrote and performed poems about sexual assault, and looking back I think I needed to share to cleanse. Now in a healthy loving relationship for over 10 years I feel like the good side deserves to be celebrated and spoken about...because, well, its not always bad:)

I think the hard part is that, as girls and women, we do generally feel physically vulnerable. At least, I know I did when I was a teenager. Still do, at times. It's hard to feel free and cautious at the same time.

Well said, Tabatha, it is a bit of a dichotomy, how to let yourself go and protect yourself all at once. How to admit that you enjoy it without feeling like you've risked judgement or your safety. I wish it wasn't so complex, so confusing, and I may be bold now that Olive isn't yet two but check in with me again when she starts asking about it.

Before my daughter was born (now also 19 months old---and, as an aside, I have an almost identical picture of her wearing nothing but a diaper and rain boots but she also added a sun bonnet)...

Anyway, before she was born I was told to begin talking with her about the "hard stuff" like sex and drugs early. Way early. Before she'd ever understand. It would make it easier when she could understand, I was told. So I tried it.

Saying the words vulva, vagina, clitoris, and labia to my four month old daughter during a diaper change made me feel... gross. Dirty. I shouldn't talk like that! To a baby! Out loud! But I kept at it and it's gotten a lot easier. When she reaches down there I tell her that's what makes her a girl and name the parts, and then we talk about how inside she has a uterus and fallopian tubes and ovaries. Like Olive she's also discovering her body and will sometimes choose big girl panties over a diaper just to have access. When we say our bedtime prayers we thank God for our bodies--just like that, thank you for L's strong, healthy body that lets her move and jump. I'm already struggling with the thought of raising a girl who loves herself, despite media pressure. It's a tough one, for sure. I also occasionally give a little thanks for whoever it was--I can't even remember--who gave me the very valuable advice of talking about this stuff so early. It really has made a difference.

Amanda, I love this and it encourages me to keep talking to Olive about her parts in a matter-of-fact way, this is your body, strong and healthy. Once when Olive was tiny, Elias helped me change her diaper and when he asked about her body parts I used the word labia instead of vagina to be more accurate (though vulva would have been the right word but somehow labia is easier for me to say than vulva.) A few months later he pulled out the word labia in perfect context and that kinda floored me.

And I hear you about the media, our girls have a lot to go up against when it comes to maintaining their view of their bodies as healthy and strong but maybe if more of us Mom's raise our daughters this way (or try) they'll be the ones changing the status quo. Oh, I can dream...

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