If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time rolling your eyes at the constant onslaught of strangers offering you unsolicited and unnecessary parenting advice. We are subjected to this every single day online, at school, at daycare, at the doctor’s office, etc. It starts the moment you announce that there’s a bun in the oven!
I get it. Really, I do, and the last thing I want to do right now is add to that list. So, let me go ahead and preface this by saying, I am not a perfect mom and I know I fail daily! I am not here to tell you what to do or how to do it; just having a conversation and if what I tell you here helps you, then great!
A couple of months ago, my primary doctor decided to send me to my gynecologist for some tests related to an issue I have been having. I was worried and, of course, Google didn’t help ease any of that concern (Side note, self-diagnosis is rarely EVER right, just don’t do it. Save your sanity!).
After a couple of weeks of going back and forth for visits and tests, being poked and prodded in a way I can only describe as being like the victim of an alien abduction, and convincing myself that I was going to die of cancer within the next year, I was informed that I have two problems that I have never heard of in my life. The first is a fairly large complex ovarian cyst and the second is something called cervical ectropion.
I am not afraid to tell you this because there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We are all grown women and these are issues any of us could face (at some point in our lives), and there is really nothing we can do to prevent it.
However, there is one big thing we can do. We can talk about it… with our daughters.
As parents, it’s our job to ensure our children are educated. This doesn’t just mean making sure they attend school. It also means making sure they are taught at home about life, family, finances, and basically anything else that’s important to survive in this crazy world.
I think sometimes our desire to protect our children from the pain and stress that adult life, in particular, often interferes with our opportunities to teach them valuable life lessons.
This is exactly what almost happened to me. Throughout all of the back and forth and poking and prodding, my teenage daughter was watching and worrying. She kept it to herself as she didn’t really know what was going on. However, one night after the second round of tests, she came to me and wanted to know what was going on.
I never knew about my mother’s battles with ovarian cysts when I was younger. Actually, I didn’t learn about her struggles until I became an adult myself. Much of it I learned from her diaries after she passed away.
My mother was an amazing woman who believed in keeping her adult life private from her children. That’s how she was raised, and I can definitely understand where she was coming from.
However, my daughter and I have a much different relationship than I had with my own mother. I’ve always been open with my daughter about everything in my adult life, but for some reason, this felt different.
I could clearly see the deep concern in her eyes so the protective side of me wanted to put her at ease as quickly as possible. I didn’t want her to worry any more than she already was, so my first reaction was to say I was fine and change the subject.
However, as I started to speak I realized if I just blew it all off with an “I’m fine,” I would be causing her more harm than good. How would she learn of the genetic issues with cysts on her mother’s side of the family? How would she even know what it is if it happens to her and I never bothered to teach her anything about it?
This was my chance to teach her about important female issues that I never knew about before becoming an adult. I spent the next hour happily explaining it all to her and answering every question that she had for me.
This talk became one of the most important and eye-opening discussions that I have ever had with my daughter. As she asked dozens of legitimate questions, I realized that I had assumed that she knew far more about genetics and the female anatomy than I should have.
I am so thankful that she came to me wanting to learn about my struggles and that I realized how important it was that I provide her with all of the knowledge I had about this very important subject.
Our life experiences can, and should, be used to teach our own children. Knowledge is one of the most important gifts that we can give to our own children. Let’s make sure we all take advantage of these opportunities!