I, by and large, led a sheltered adolescence.
I like to joke that I was a nerd, in hopes that it will be sufficient explanation as to why I didn’t really drink underage. Why I never wanted a fake ID. Why I didn’t do drugs (much). Why I waited to have sex. Why I didn’t dress “promiscuously” or disobey my parents or sneak out of the house or get in physical fights.
The truth is? I don’t know why I was sort of a good kid.
I could attribute it to parenting. My parents were open and honest with me. They made sure I knew that I was loved. They always told me I could go to them if I was in a tough situation. They also let me know that drinking and sex at a young age was not acceptable. And disobeying them was met with utter disappointment. (A fate worse than making your parents mad).
They were what my husband and I hope to be. Good parents.
But is that enough?
I know I’ve already discussed the joys of having girls. But, at the same time, I have to admit that I’m terrified because I know what females have to face.
Becoming a woman is a hard, hard thing.
The rush to grow up. The sexuality. Emotional bullying. Pressure. Not to mention the bigger, weightier issues like love, work, children, choice, our rights, our physical safety.
I’m constantly amazed that I made it through adolescence. And I’m constantly racking my brain to try and figure out how I navigated those extremely tough years and came out on the other side happy, healthy, unharmed.
Was it solely good parenting? Is it a gene I just happened to have? Is it the environment I grew up in?
Sometimes I think it was just dumb luck.
And that’s what terrifies me.
How do I protect my girls? How do I prevent them from being that innocent girl on the subway platform, minding her own business before being assaulted? How do I keep them safe?
Maybe having a discourse about it will be part of the solution. Maybe telling them what I believe to be the difference between right and wrong will help. Maybe I just need to try my best to model good values and respect and then let them navigate for themselves.
I don’t know for sure.
But I do know that at some point, they’ll be too old to just accept my answers at face value. They’ll need and want to grow and explore. They’ll have to be set loose into this often-frightening world.
And I’ll have to be okay with that.
It will be at that moment that I will truly be tested as a parent. As a woman. As a mother.
It will be at that moment that I will close my eyes - for just a brief moment - while I hope and pray that my love and guidance is enough to keep them safe.
And then? I will open my eyes and hope that my daughters turn to me.
Because I will always be here for them.
That's right my loves, I'm talking about you.