Like it is for many professional women, my life is an extremely busy one. Between my three kids, my job, running the house and everything in between, there is often very little me time.
This past weekend, I learned something about myself which I suspected for a long time but was never quite able to label or put my finger on. Some would say that I had an AHA moment.
The weekend was a particularly crazy one in our home. It was my daughter’s 6th birthday party. And although between my 3 children I can put together parties in my sleep, for some reason this weekend was a tough one for me. Maybe it’s because I had 26 five year-olds running through my house, or maybe it is because I am getting older. Or maybe it is because my patience is growing thin. For whatever reason, by 6 pm on Sunday, I had transformed into a very short-tempered, exhausted and don’t talk to me wife and mother. Precisely the type of person I dread becoming. I hate that I was pushed to the point where I was taking my exhaustion out on my family.
I realized that I was missing my me time. And for the record, for the purpose of this blog, me time is not defined as going to the gym or the spa or out with friends.
I am referring to the need to be able to breathe.
Rather, I am referring to the need to be able to breathe. I need, for just a few moments a day, not to be talked at, interrupted, called for or whined to. I need my personal space. And when I do not get it, even for a few moments, I get fidgety, easily annoyed and extremely uncomfortable in my skin.
A typical day in my home looks like this…I walk into the house. With the sound of the front door opening, I hear the pitter patter of feet running to greet me.
Along with the delicious hugs and kisses that I receive, I also start getting the complaining and the whining, and the stories about who did what to whom at school…all this information is important and I want to hear it all. But, I would first like to enter the house, close the front door, hang up my jacket, take off my shoes, and maybe go beyond the foyer area before I get bombarded.
(I guiltily admit that on occasion, I take the long way home from work just so that I can have a few moments to myself, uninterrupted, in order to wind down from the day.)
So is a little personal space really too much to ask for?
Am I ever allowed to be off duty just for a few moments? Do I have the right to ask this of my children, or did I give up the right for personal space the day I became a mother?
Research has shown that there are, in fact, detrimental effects on our minds and bodies when we do not feel we have our space, or if we feel as if our personal bubble is being invaded. They interfere with our responses, our behaviours, and the manner in which we communicate with those around us.
The Detrimental Effects of No Personal Space:
So what is the moral of the story? We all need a break at some point. We all need our space. We need to figure out a way to take it. Whether it is by asking our partners to cover us for 10 minutes, taking a walk, locking ourselves in the bathroom or taking the long way home from work. Taking that space will make us better listeners and communicators in the long term. Hopefully one day, our children will thank us for it.
So I have been reading a lot about the new Sex Education Curriculum which is scheduled to be implemented in Ontario schools this coming September.
The first thing that crossed my mind was that it is about time.
Anyone who knows me would describe me as a say it like it is kind of person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I speak from the heart. I don’t mince words and I speak the truth.
So when it comes to teaching my children about sex and sexual issues, why would I be any different?
Well, the truth is, I am not.
Several months back, my 11-year-old daughter was studying health in school and she was learning about the human body and reproduction. She needed to memorize all the male and female anatomy, and know all of their functions. She also needed to understand the process of reproduction and how the sperm fertilizes the egg.
“But mommy, I understand that the sperm and the egg are both needed for a baby to be created. But how does the sperm get into the egg?”…. And so began a very long and descriptive conversation about sex and ejaculation and everything in between. You name it.
This whole process was quite an experience for me, as her mother.
My daughter was curious and she wanted to understand. When reviewing all the systems with her, I made sure she knew all the proper terminology for the male and female parts. I did not make up words, and I did not fluff over the important processes. If certain facts grossed her out, which some did… I described them to her anyway. Better she have the facts. I knew she would eventually get over the shock of hearing it all.
As a professional social worker, as well as a mom, I think it is a brilliant idea that children are going to be getting this information in school starting as young as grade 1.
I am a big proponent of being honest with our children.
Whether they are learning the right names of body parts, about same-sex relationships, sexting, online sexual relationships or masturbation. Whatever the case may be.
The truth is, our kids are talking about it. At every age and at every developmental level. So why wouldn’t we prefer they get the facts? The new Ontario curriculum gives the facts. And it ensures that all students are on the same page.
So how can we complement at home the information that our children are receiving at school about sex?
Keeping the conversation positive will also empower our children to come to us instead of shying away.
The aim of the Ontario Sex Education curriculum, in my opinion, is a means to provide the groundwork for our children. Values and ethics start at home.
More importantly than anything, we must be real. Educating our children about sex, does not necessarily mean we are condoning certain sexual behaviour and that they should go do it.
But by providing this groundwork to our children in school, we are merely planting the seed. How this information gets nurtured depends in a large part on how the information is processed and brought to life by parents and caregivers.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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