Friday, June 13, 2008

Substitute Mom Assignments

I was talking to a girlfriend recently about our daughters and about some of the things mothers do with their daughters as they grow up - shopping for their first bras, talking about their periods, telling them about sex, and so on.

Tony's a great father, but he's a man. He's going to struggle with this area of parenthood after I'm gone. My girlfriends are going to have to step in to guide Josie through girl issues like these. Then it occurred to me that each of my girlfriends has a special strength, talent, or area of expertise. One might be better than others for having the sex talk with Josie. Another might be better at taking her bra shopping. Yet another might be better at giving her advice about boyfriends.

So I thought I'd make a list of issues that are usually a mother's job and assign them to my girlfriends. Here are some I've thought of so far:

1) Menstruation - tampons or pads, PMS, period pains
2) Puberty - physical changes, body hair, shaving legs and armpits, bikini waxes, acne, body image
3) Bra shopping - making this fun, not embarrassing
4) Sex - abstinence, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases
5) Boyfriends - recognizing the good guys from the bad, dealing with crushes and break-ups
6) Clothes and shoe shopping - a fun girls' day out
7) Love - share stories
8) Diet and nutrition - very, very important to me since this will be Josie's first line of defense against breast cancer
9) Health - breast self-exams, gynecologist visits
10) Self-protection - dangers facing women, the "date drug", on-line predators
11) Self image - how to be confident and not follow the crowd or depend on other girls' or boys' approval
12) Feminine hygiene - wiping front to back, yeast infections, urinary tract infections

[NB: Josie should know that if she gets a "tramp stamp" (tattoo in the small of the back) she may not be able to get an epidural during childbirth. Not sure which of the above categories this one belongs in.]

If any of you girls want to step forward and volunteer for one or more of these assignments, go ahead. If you think of other mother-daughter issues I've left out, please suggest them.


Anonymous said...

Career discussions, career vs stay-at-home moms!

Not that I ever discussed this with anybody, but it might have been nice to be told that there are several different paths in female adulthood and that each path has its ups and downs! And that some careers are a bit more mom-friendly.

Marge said...

Well, I think you know I gotta choose "bra shopping". For god's sake, I've journeyed through every size from A to DD.
And if I may be so greedy - I'd also want to talk to her and share stories with her about love (romantic, familial, et al), though I know she'll have ample substitute mommies on this topic. The good thing is you can't have too many mommies/advisors when it comes to love.

deb said...

I'm all in favour of Marge having the bra shopping role but lets face it, it's highly unlikely that she'll ever be a DD if her Mum is anything to go by :)
I'd like to do the "self image" because in this role comes real confidence building to deal with what ever life throws at you. I think you are very confident with the way you are but I see many poeple who aren't and I'd like to teach her your style, it's the only way to go.
I hope I can be a general "all rounder", greedy I know but I'll be there for her whatever.

She's going to be looked after, don't you worry.

Love ya XXXX

Anonymous said...

Let her know about boys and their sexual aspects. Start small then add as time goes on.

The epidural? Include it in "How babies are born."

Love your thoughts and insights.

Alistair said...

At some point Josie may want to seek a male perspective on some of this...and may shy from raising some subjects with dad, even one as understanding as Tony. As my girls may be just ahead of her on this arc, happy to volunteer.
p.s Thanks for the tramp stamp. Other advice I received a while back is if your daughter says she is going to have a tattoo, rather than freak out, reply that you will have an identical tattoo. She will freak instead and may reconsider.

Shin said...

These are all great ideas. Thanks so much for your input. The male perspective from a non-dad person is an angle I hadn't thought of. Good one, Alistair.

I said these assignments are for my girlfriends, but I assume my sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, and other relatives know I include them as girlfriends. And, of course, my guy friends who are as clever as Alistair.

This is sort of a fun exercise, but I hope through this that Josie will see that I did what I could to make up for the fact that I couldn't be around for her.

This is the hardest part of dying - knowing that I'm cheating Josie and Toby out of all of the things that a mother does for her children. I feel better knowing that you're all going to help make sure that they don't feel too cheated.

Katie said...

Hi Shin,
I think I can speak for all of your girlfriends when I say that we will always be there for your kids and help in any way possible. A point to consider - My niece's best friend's (they are both 15)mother died from breast cancer a few years ago so this girl is round my sister's house all the time. I think by default my sister has become a surrogate mother in terms of navigating her through adolescents because it is done in tandem with her own daughter (my niece).I don't think my sister even knew this girl's mother so she definatley wouldn't have been 'a chosen one' but it is obvious that the friend is most comfortable learning and discussing issues with her best friend and my sister (her Dad even asks my sister for help in certain areas if the need arises )My point being maybe Josie will choose who she needs to help her and it will just happen naturally. (but if it doesn't then can I do the prom dress shopping !!!!!!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Shin, I'm a long way geographically from you guys, being in Australia. But I'd like you to put me down on your list as a "home in Oz" should your kids do the round the world thing when they are young adults. They are both welcome to stay as long as they like, whenever they like. Being from London, we also have many contacts there, so would definitely be able to get them a "home in London" too. Therefore, Josie, Toby - if you're reading this in 15 years time (which I'm sure you'll do over and over again in the years to come), please call me on +61 754835190 if you need help with the above. Mel xxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

I'll take care of the hair issue - from head hair, to body hair, arm pit fashion, pubic hair etc... depilatories, shaving, waxing, Brazilians, IPL, lasers etc. Lord have I spent enough time in my life being a sucker to Gillette and buying "Venus" razors, stealing my hubby's 10-bladed-vibrating razors. I'ld give myself a PhD on this topic.

I'll explain it all :-) Josie and Skylar seem to get on fine so I'll make sure the girls and even Toby will understand this hirsute jumbo-mumbo and make wiser choices than I did in my teens and twenties! Ouch....


Julide said...

Dearest Shin,

I would like to volunteer for `boy-friend / husband troubles and questions` :) Please make sure that Josie knows that at ANY time in her life, even if
this might be when she is fifty, she can contact me when she runs into trouble with men ;)

Please make sure that she know that even if she might feel hesitant to contact me, she should contact me anyway. My e-mails and phone numbers may change but all she needs to do is type `Julide Okday` in the internet and she`ll find me.

Having been through a variety of issues in this matter, I believe I have constructive things to say ;) Josie can e-mail me, talk to me over the phone, or visit me in Istanbul to have a more lengthy chat.

I am currently in the process of buying a sofa bed for my new home and I will be thinking of Josie when I select it :) It will be a great delight to be able to have her over. Needless to say, she doesn`t need to have men trouble to contact me :) Any reason will do! If she fancies visiting Istanbul, that`s good enough reason to contact me!

Also needless to say, Toby might have questions about the feelings of women... Or, he too might just fancy a trip to Istanbul. Noone will be happier than me to pick him up from the airport and let him have a great time here :)

Hugs for now.