I walked into the pharmacy to buy my first box of condoms in about 20 years. I walked down the aisle and started reading the boxes.
“Ribbed for her pleasure.” Out.
“Ultrathin.” Absolutely out!!
Where was the box that said, “Think twice” or “Are you sure?” or “Call your mom first”?
I picked the plainest box of condoms I could find, without the word pleasure on it. This got me thinking about a niche. Condoms by moms, with sayings, and skulls and crossbones, and warning signs. Maybe some pics of STDs.
My sex talk may not be the best, but I give it a good old college try, followed up by handing them their first box of condoms.
It is a sensitive subject, no doubt, made even trickier since my husband and I had our first son before we were married.
This is no secret to my children. Our son Evan is in the wedding pictures. I am proud of this life we created, and our 4 kids. I often wonder how many people sat at our wedding and made bets it wouldn’t last.
So when I planned to give them the talk, from the “mom” perspective (my husband has his own plans, but I want to be sure all the best points get hit, so I give my own talk), I had a few approaches in mind.
Approach number one, “Wait until you’re married” clearly doesn’t seem right. I certainly can’t justify asking them to wait until they marry, knowing good and well that I did not. I do, however, suggest, that there is a value to waiting until you marry. I feel it is my duty as a parent and a scripted part of any sex speech.
Then I move on to what I hope is more realistic advice, about being in love with an intimate special partner and the dangers of casual sex. I discuss respect and consent and I tell them, “One day you may want to share your sex partners with someone you are in love with or maybe about to marry, and please don’t let that list be too long.”
Then the “wrap it up” part of the speech, and I mean wrap it up. I try to sneak in some scary STDs, you know, your run of the mill genital warts, before they run out of the room or beg me to stop talking.
“If you do decide to have sex, wear a condom, 100% of the time. You do not want to look like this (insert terrible STD picture here) and you don’t want to get a girl pregnant.” It’s hard sometimes to talk to my sons and make them realize the challenge of having a child before you own a home, or have a career, or a marriage, and yet make sure they know, I would not change one thing.
I was 21 when I found out I was pregnant. 21 for about 4 months. So much for going clubbing! I was entering my last semester of college. It was August, classes hadn’t started yet. I bought about 6 pregnancy tests and they all came up positive.
I called my sister and said, “I have to tell you something,” and she immediately knew and said “you’re pregnant.” I called my now husband and told him, and was sure to say, “I don’t need you for this, I have my family. So if you are not all in…go.” Lucky for us, he was all in. I told him I did not want to marry him, just because we were having a baby.
Things were hard for a while. It took my family time to adjust. I changed my plans to go to grad school and took the first job that was offered to me post-graduation. I lost just about all my high school and college friends, because I am sure a new mom is not a pleasure to be around. We were likely just in different seasons of life.
When I talk to my sons about it, I try to point out the difference between being 16 verses 21, or no college versus being almost done. I also try to tell them about the things their dad and I missed out on like being young, traveling, having no worries.
I never once regretted the way we did things, I honestly wouldn’t change anything.
Yet, at the same time I wouldn’t want this path for them.
Basically do as I say, not as I do. We tell our kids, just say no, even if maybe we didn’t always “say no.” We tell them to go to college, even if we didn’t go. We do this, because we want what is best for our kids. We can see it all so clearly now in hindsight.
Yet this path, this “broken road,” is what led us here.
Here, in this moment, I am beyond proud of what I have accomplished. I still always feel a few steps behind, but maybe we all do. I was given a gift of this amazing young man, who literally brought us together as a family and created a life I could never have imaged when I was 21 taking 6 pregnancy tests.
I pray every night that my children’s paths is the least broken it can possibly be.
That I am equipping them with all the tools possible to prevent the cracks and landslides that life may throw at them. Yet hoping, that when it does break, they come out on the other side as proud as I am right now.
Tricia Zurawski is a married working mother of four kids ages 19, 17, 12, and 9. She lives in New Jersey. She is a runner who loves her running tribe and believes running with them is cheaper than therapy. She thought parenting would become easier as her family grew, but she realizes she was so wrong.