My oldest child, M, is 9-years-old. I see every day little ways that she is growing, maturing, and opening her eyes with ever more clarity to the world around her. Watching a child at this stage of their development is intriguing, exciting, and scary all at once. In just the tiniest of ways I watch her emerge from under the blanket of childhood innocence as she begins her journey as a seeker. At this stage she is beginning to ask more questions than ever before, she wants to know things...I mean really know them and understand them, to devour knowledge and let it sink into her bones. Sometimes I want to jump in front of her and protectively yell "STOP!" as though she is a baby about to crawl onto a busy highway, but mostly I know that her curiosity is a wonderful thing that needs to be fed and nurtured in a healthy way. It is with this understanding that I am now seeking as well. I seek to help her, I seek to guide her appropriately, I seek to know how in the world to answer some of these wild questions she asks...or even the simple ones that I shouldn't be afraid to answer, but somehow I am.
As you can imagine, some of her questions...ok, a lot of her questions...are beginning to turn toward matters of puberty. AKKK! She is seeking to find her "women's wisdom" as I call it. I always thought I would be so good at this part. As an aspiring midwife and a person who is not only comfortable with but truly fascinated, as well, with the workings of the female system, I thought things like "the talk" or dealing with per-pubescent queries would be no big deal. I just don't know where 9 years went. How can these questions be here already? How can it be time? I want more time.
Really though, it is exciting and beautiful to watch her grow and to allow her to find her inner wisdom as she becomes ever more the seeker. This is, after all, what I want for her. I want her to live as though the whole world is open to her, I want her to approach life as a constant learning adventure, I want her to seek and to find-- and most of all to find her wisdom, her confidence, herself.
Therefore, I've been trying to shake off the heebie jeebies that I feel when these things come up, and I've decided that maybe what I need is to know where to start. I don't want to give her more information than she needs, but I don't want to hold back on things that she does feel ready to know. I must let her grow. After much searching for exactly the right tool to help me out, I have found this: The Care and Keeping of You (put out by the American Girl company)
Personally, I think this book is fabulous and just right for beginning a journey into question-and-answer-land. It has helped me a great deal and M looooooooves it. She reads a bit of it almost every night. It doesn't just talk about puberty, but about general good health and exercise, hygiene and the like. As far as the puberty stuff goes, it gives just the right amount of information, is factual without being boring and doesn't lead her to any questions that she or I can't handle at this point.
When I first gave her the book I let her look through it on her own for awhile and then I sat down with her and asked if she had any questions...of course she did, but they weren't anything I couldn't handle and I was able to mostly rely on what was already in the book, only elaborating in ways that I felt made sense for her right now. I highly recommend this book!
Other great books in the same series deal with friendship issues, feelings, responsibility (such as with money) and all sorts of goodness for growing smart, confident young women. (Check out American Girl's "Be Your Best" series.)
I would love to hear how other mothers/women are approaching these issues with their own daughters or with young women in their lives. How are you--or how do you plan to--share your women's wisdom with the next generation? What experiences helped you gain your own women's wisdom as you grew? Maybe there are things you learned from the preceding generation that helped you along, or maybe there were things that you learned from because you wished they had been different. Please feel free to comment and share.
In the mean time, I will continue my journey with M as we learn, grow, and share wisdom together.