Guest Post by Clancy Briggs
I thought I had more time. When the doctor passed me my beautiful baby girl, I looked at her and thought to myself “You are going to be just delightful for at least the next 13 years, aren’t you?”, but I was wrong. I was not prepared for the early onslaught of sarcasm, attitude and arguements, that I had only just finished dishing out to my own mother a few years earlier, to rise out of this sweet baby girl just 9 years later.
It’s a common discussion between my friends and I with daughters of the same age. We are all so sure we didn’t start “sprouting” anything until we were about 12/13. But when I received a pink Post-it stuck to my kitchen bench late last year from my then 9-yr old informing me that she thought she “had pubertie”, I was devastated. The irony was not lost on me that she referred to this change as some kind of contracted disease! And alas, there it began. Shopping for crop tops and beginner bras because we had to, not because it was a fashion trend. Explaining about privacy and how she really couldn’t shower with her little brother anymore. Identifying the difference between a freckle and a blackhead, picking the right cleansers for children’s skin and searching for the perfect literature to accompany my own advice.
Some say it’s in the chicken, all the hormones we eat. Some say it’s genetic and some say it’s just the way it is. But it doesn’t make it any less heart breaking. When my friend’s daughter got her first period last year, at age 10, it was not just my friend that was shocked. Our little girls who still secretly play make-believe games with their younger siblings and watch the “baby” shows on TV are becoming woman way before their time. And it’s not fair.
My own experience with early puberty has made me determined to make sure my girls feel comfortable enough to talk to me about anything. There was no talk about sex, periods, pubic hair or hormones in our house, only a packet of Libra Fleur, a book called It’s OK to be You, and instructions to “not tell your father!” There was great debate whether we buy our daughter a book, because they have become almost a tradition. Many a discussion has centred in a wine-induced haze as to which puberty book you had when you were young! Yet when my daughter came to me at 8 years old and asked me what a sperm was, I sat down and told her the truth myself, no book available. And at Friday morning coffee that week, I received a pat on the back from some of the Mums, and looks of horror from the others. It is a very controversial subject, the what, when and how much to tell debate. As it turned out, I didn’t get it all right, as demonstrated when she came to me a few months ago and asked me if the thing growing under her armpit was a hormone! Hence the need for the purchase of the book!
So it is with a heavy heart, and a headache from hearing One Direction blasted from the above-mentioned daughter’s room, that I embark on this journey with my baby girl. And I say I, because this is something that I believe is just between mother and daughter. My husband would contribute and help the best he could, but his turn will come with our son. My mind is racing with appropriate responses to her back chat, her attitude and her bitchiness, but most of the time we argue. All because she wants to wear her black cardigan, not a daggy school jacket, or she wants her hair a certain way and because it would take me 30 mins to do it, I’m just not prepared to pull it off. Or for 500 other reasons that seem so petty to me, but I know, deep down, are so important to her. Like so many others I’m sure, I come up with the understanding and compassionate negotiations after she has stormed off to her room and I’m cursing the fact that its only 8am and it’s too early for a glass of wine!
Clancy Briggs has been “learning on the job” since becoming a Mum 10 years ago. She struggles daily with her role in the home as well as in the world and is a self-proclaimed “sporadically irresponsible” parent! She lives with her 3 gorgeously feral children, her long-suffering husband and their domestic zoo, is seriously addicted to chocolate and the idea that someday she will find her inner enlightenment and everything in her life will run smoothly!