Monday, December 18, 2006

A Savvy Mother Talk Book Tour



Many of you already know that I am the mother of two bright and beautiful daughters. God knows I post enough photos of them around here to make it pretty obvious. So, what does having daughters mean to me? It means a lot but what first comes to mind is my wish to raise them to be strong, independent, empowered women all the while trying my darnedest not to saddle them with my own baggage (namely, the female kind). So far, so good, I guess. But my oldest is headed for Tweenville and that means it's only going to get harder for me to navigate the precarious mother/daughter waters.

Long ago, back before we even had kids, my husband insisted that I bow out of The Sex Talk if ever that time came. He was certain that it would be futile for me to try to hide my uptightness about all things below the belt and figured he’d be the better speaker of the house. I didn’t take offense to it because I knew he was right. But time has passed and I better understand some of my issues and have faced them over the years. And now, in the blink of an eye, I am dealing with a nine-year-old daughter and on a daily basis am deciding how and when to interject the tid-bits of girl info as she needs it. Considering I never even called a vagina by it’s proper name until she was like 5, it’s been a slow road. Regardless a few set backs, over the last few years, I have decidedly been much more forthright with her, sharing the details of my own cycle in ways that have seemed to comfortably open the lines of communication. Whew. I figure if I can keep it going, then the talk won’t necessarily have to be such a big talk but more of an extension of the things we’ve already been sharing (she says with fingers crossed).

Lucky for me, before things have gotten hairy (that might be a pun if you really think about it- so try not to think about it), a book like Toni Weschler's Cycle Savvy came along. I was thrilled when the call went out from Mother Talk to review the new book geared toward girls 14 and older. "Ah ha," I thought, "I’ve got a few years until then and I have time to arm myself with the info in this book so I’ll be really ready!" I figured from the title and the fab graphics that it’d be a perfect book to read and entrust my daughter with when the time comes. I started with the “note to moms” which is obviously a disclaimer for what was about to be discussed in the book and it managed to put me at ease right away. And then I really began. When I got to page 8 it was all I could do not to slam the book shut. Oh my God, I am not ready for this. See, page 8 is a graphic line drawing of the female genitalia, spread eagle, labeled and plain as day. Breathe Tracey, breathe. And then, through one squinted eye, I studied the drawing a little more closely. My eyes opened. Aaaah, so that’s where that is. Oooo, that’s what that’s called.

I found I was able to gather my thoughts and talk myself off the cliffs of Mt. Prude. And what happened next was remarkable. I began reading Cycle Savvy as a curious teen. Apparently, in many ways I am. I won't pretend ladies, there is stuff in this book that I didn't know. I haven’t read Toni’s first, wildly popular book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Yet. Is it that obvious? Anyway, Toni’s approach is one of respect, knowledge, understanding and humor. I love her voice and to my astonishment I felt very comfortable reading about all the female stuff that might normally make me squirm especially in the context of knowing my daughter will be reading it one day. We’re not just talking periods here. Toni covers or perhaps better said uncovers topics like cervical fluid, ovulation, fertility, the ‘first time’ (gulp), birth control, and STDs to name a few. At great length and in detail I might add. Yep. It’s all in there and more.

So then I pondered her words and her straight-forward approach as a mother of a one-day teen and wanted to embrace her. She spoke in the language that I want to speak with my daughter; confident, kind, funny, and trusting. With teens, it’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it. And Toni has got it going on. She’s not trying to be one of the teens she’s targeting. Thank God. She’s just trying to be someone they will listen to, which is no easy task. She casts no judgment and offers clear, concise information that not only sheds light on the mysteries of the female body but empowers young women by entrusting them with the info they will need to make smart choices for themselves in life. As in every facet of life, not just in sex (although that is covered so well, I might have to memorize it and recite it when the time comes). Rest assured taking charge of your fertility isn’t easy at any age. If you consider doing so is like cracking the code to your whole personal make up it’s no wonder it takes some doing. But Toni offers the tools girls, ahem, women need to do just that, if and when they are ready to listen to and take charge of their bodies. It got me all fired up, I can tell you that much, and that’s a start.

Cycle Savvy is a book designed to help teen girls demystify their “awesome and amazing” bodies (gotta love those adjectives!) and in turn honor themselves and through it all offers the universal messages that many moms strive to instill in their daughters. One of the highlights for me is when the author describes “the four little words that can change your life.” She continues, “Commit them to memory, make them your mantra, own them. They will serve you again and again. Knowledge: Good. Ignorance: Bad.” That single message alone makes the book worth reading. I can guarantee that Cycle Savvy will be right here on my shelf (once I’ve read through it a few more times) waiting to be used for it’s highest good; to help me, help my daughter understand her own unique and miraculous body as she grows into the amazing young woman I see glimpses of even today.

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Just added-
I am giving away a free copy of Cycle Savvy- The Smart Teen's Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body. It'll be a random drawing taken from all the people who comment on this post. Thanks and good luck!

22 comments:

Mommybloggers said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who is freaking out about "the talk" (and who battles her inner prude)

Great review!

CindyC said...

Shriek! I'm soooo thrilled Toni Weschler wrote a book for girls! It is soooo very needed. I did read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" when we were trying for Rachel and *I* learned so much! BTW, I love how you've approached the "talk" with your oldest. That's exactly what I'm trying to do with Rachel.

Colleen said...

Wow! This sounds more like a book moms (like me) should read before their girls do. I grew up in a house where there was no talk about periods, sex, anything!!! What a nice book to have to open the communication about something so important. Thank you for sharing about this book! I will be picking this book up SOON!!!

Much More Than A Mom said...

Awesome post, Tracey! I'll be reviewing it Friday from the perspective of a teacher and a mother of a son. (And you'd love TCOYF - you should get it! Just as awesome, but much more detail, and I think you can handle it now!)

;-)

Catizhere said...

AACCKK!! I just realized that I'm going to have to have the "talk" with Maggie! I just assumed she's stay 3 forever! At least now I know there is a book out there that I can read first.

Toni said...

Hi Ladies!

This is Toni Weschler, the author of Cycle Savvy. Thank you for that incredibly thoughtful review. You might be interested in knowing how I dealt with one my niece's first period. Every year, on the anniversary of it's first arrival, we have an "August 28th with Aunt Toni Day", devoted to all things Girl, and all things confidential. So she is free to ask me anything and everything, knowing that our discussion doesn't leave our little inner circle of two. I think it's a great tradition for aunts to start with their nieces. Of course, it would be good if you could have the knowledge to answer all their questions! Just a thought. :-)

amber said...

I'm already having problems coming to grips with having the "talk" with my daughter, and she's only five, so I can just imagine what I'll be like when she's older.

elle103 said...

Well, I am on the verge of that "talk" with my oldest of 3 girls. She is 10 and I am proud to say still very innocent and not toooooo big for her britches...she is a moody one that is for sure!
As the mother of 3 girls I feel that we are chosen as mothers of children that are the same gender...especially girls because they are so fragile and our contribution as mothers and fathers to their lives are what makes them grow into strong women. That is why it is wonderful for us to stick together and learn from each other. Thanks sooo much for sharing and I cant wait to read more about it!!!

Crabby Girl said...

I have TWIN daughters who are 3 and a half and I am already worrying about what to say when. I've already screwed up! When my 6 minute later youngest asked me what her "little butt" was called I actually had to call my mother and ask her what to say. There aren't any cute little names for girls! She said well you call it what it is of course (notice she couldn't say the "v" word either). I can't wait to see this book and thanks for writing a review.

Scoutj said...

My daughter is 4.5 and I'm purposely much more open with her than my mother was with me. I had *the talk* with my son when he was six because he asked and I didn't want to lie. When I told him how it all happens he concluded the conversation with, "That's cool!"

I want to read this book! It sound fantastic.

Jessica New said...

I am knee deep in the middle of the CURIOUSITY stage. My step daughter is almost 9 in the 4th grade. She now has to wear little bras, she needs deodrant & though not yet her period & shaving is not far away.....
Her best friend has already "started" her period. And other friends of hers are already shaving.

So on any given day I get the questions
"Jane Doe says you bleed real blood from your private, is that true?"
"Does it hurt, all that bleeding?"
"Do you know what a tampon is?"
"Do you have to wear a diaper all day?"
"When do you think I am gonna have my first period?"
"I am getting a lot of hair down there, do you have a lot too?"
And the list goes on & on....

But I do offer this bit of hope to mothers with daughters:
It is not as bad as I thought it would be. I am not as embarrassed, or stumblinging, or shocked as I thought it would be talking over "these girl things". I think of her coming to me with questions as an honor. Since she trusts me to answer her questions, I am responsible to give her an open heart & help her through this crazy journey of becoming/being a women!!

I would greatly appreciate being entered into the book drawing. We sure could use it!

Jessica New said...

Also Tracey.... Auntie Jay is ALWAYS here if you or your daughters need me. (Since I read what Toni wrote about Auntie Day)
I look forward to having the Girly talks with both of your girls later in life... I am OPEN...

Claddyjack said...

I am an aunt of two niecesand think toni's idea is brilliant! I'm letting my sister know immediately. One of my favorite of your posts, Trace.

PeetsMom said...

I'm right there. We started with The Care and Keeping of You (American Girls), which I HIGHLY recommend. At age 9, it was the step we needed to launch into other areas...it generated questions..it was good.

Now I think is the time for this new book...it sounds like the next step for us - can't wait to get to the bookstore!

Thanks Tracey!

xo
k

jenlemen said...

this is an excellent review, tracey. i'm inspired! madeleine is eight, so i'll be following right behind you on this one. nothing terrifies me more than tackling this subject!

Suebob said...

Tracey - I'm glad you got the book and are working on being able to confront sexuality head on, in a healthy way.

I didn't get that and I am sorry to say that I started having sex way too early - because I wanted to find out what it was like. I wish someone would have been able to talk to me honestly. I'm really glad moms like you are taking this on.

Jessica said...

I, too, grew up in a house where there was no information whatsoever about sexuality, puberty, coming of age, etc. When I decided to have children, I so wanted a girl, in part so I could do those things my mom didn't- talk about sex etc., and encourage self-esteem. Well, I had a boy first- although they need the same info, too. And now, I'm pregnant with twin girls. So it's a way down the road, but something I'm already thinking about. Also, I loved Weschler's first book. :)

jenlemen said...

hey tracey--i think you should post this on minti.

TrishLS said...

This book you describe sounds fabulous. I remember the scared teen that I was....too freaked out to talk to my own my mom. Now I hate to freak YOU out. But I taught 4th grade in a private school and I had to teach sex ed! So your talk may be sooner than you think! Gulp!

Christy said...

When I was little I knew all the proper names for body parts but I thought getting your period meant one day of "peeing blood" in the toilet and that if you shaved once you never had to shave again. ( I even shaved my toes and arms thinking all the hair would stay away for good.) The only sex talk my mom gave me was about the difference between good girls and bad girls: She said it was up to girls to say no to boys and that good girls waited until they were married to have sex and that bad girls didn't, and they got a reputation. Needless to say, it took me years to get over the shame of being pressured into sexual activities before I was ready for them and the later discovering that I infact had a sex drive. It wasn't until my early twenties that I realized I wasn't "bad." And I'm not fully over it.

(Participating and performing in Eve Ensler's play the Vagina Monologues and teaching sex ed helped with my own healing process.)

Thanks Tracey for telling me about this book because I believe it is improtant to empower girls with knowledge about themselves as sexual beings-- not sex objects.

Kari Niedermaier said...

Thanks for the great review Tracey. I have a plethora of resources for the childbearing year and the early parenting years but am always looking for resources to recommend for teenagers and parents of teenagers. This looks like a winner and I loved her first book!

coolmom said...

Thanks so much!!!