What one mom thought was an OMG moment turned into a sweet lesson about innocence.
So the other night, my daughter walked in on us. Yup, that’s right, my 7-year-old daughter caught my husband and me in the midst of romantic rapture. I was sure it would scar her for life—and maybe even me, too!
It all happened around 11 p.m., when I thought my kids had already been asleep for hours. I couldn’t see anything in our dark bedroom, but I paused mid-coitus, sensing something just wasn’t right. “Shhh!” I said to my husband.
And that’s when I heard the whimpering.
“Charlotte?” I whispered into the dark room. All I could hear was crying at the foot of my bed.
“Charlotte! Is that you?” I shouted, my husband and I scurrying away from each other and reaching to cover ourselves in the tangled sheets and blankets.
“Mommy!” Charlotte squealed out. “Just tell me that you’re okay!!”
I told her that I was fine, and asked her to please hurry back to her own bedroom, and that I would meet her there. Thankfully, she did as she was told.
How long had she been standing there? What exactly did she see? I sighed and put my head in my hands as I tried to figure out what the heck to say to my daughter. I was completely unprepared to discuss where babies came from, right now, right here, in this very moment. I thought she would be older when this occasion came, that I would be prepared with books and explanations. This was not how this was supposed to happen, I thought, about both the events of the evening and my first birds-and-bees conversation with my kid. I just wanted to stay in bed and hide under the covers. But as I slid my bathrobe on, I realized I had to deal with the current situation. I stopped in the bathroom and splashed some cold water on my face. As I tied my hair up in a bun, I gave myself a pep talk. “You’ve got this,” I said to my reflection as I started collecting my thoughts on reproductive biology.
I found Charlotte sitting on her bed, wiping away tears, surrounded by tissues. First, I hugged her and said that she did nothing wrong and that Mommy and Daddy loved her. I asked her if she was okay—after all, why was she in my bedroom at such a late hour? She told me that she simply came looking for a hug after a nightmare. Kid, this is a far bigger nightmare, I thought as I smiled reassuringly at her. Just as I was ready to launch into my sex-ed talk, Charlotte surprised me by asking, “Are you okay, Mommy? It sounded like Daddy was hurting you.”
I suddenly realized that she actually had no idea what she had walked in on. She didn’t see anything; she only heard sounds that she assumed were of pain. I immediately pulled her close to me and told her that Daddy wasn’t hurting me, that I was fine.
“Then why were you making all those noises?” she inquired.
I exhaled, narrowed my eyes, and swallowed hard. “Well, you know how sometimes I tickle, hug, and kiss you and your brother and you guys start wiggling around a lot and sometimes you giggle, but other times you squeal and scream but you’re still having fun?” I explained. “Mommy and Daddy also sometimes tickle each other and roll around and giggle and scream—but we’re still having fun. It’s just one way we show each other we love one another,” I said, holding my breath, hoping this would suffice.
Charlotte nodded, seemingly accepting this answer.
Still, I felt it was my parental duty to make sure I covered all the bases. So I blurted it out: “Char, do you and your friends ever talk about where babies come from?”
“No!” she said emphatically. Then she got a knowing smile on her face. “Because I already know,” she said.
My heart dropped and I felt panic rise in my throat. I could only imagine what some older kid on the school bus must’ve filled her head with. Or maybe she saw something on YouTube, or the TV parental controls weren’t on correctly and she stumbled upon some porn channel. Now I was scared—of what she might’ve found out on her own, the misinformation circulating in the school yard, of her loss of innocence. I shifted my weight on the foot of her twin bed, nervously rearranging her butterfly comforter. “Really?” I said. “What do you know?”
“Duh, Mom,” Charlotte said with a roll of her eyes. “Everybody knows that babies come from heaven.”
I exhaled and laughed out loud as I hugged her tightly. “That’s right, my love, babies come from heaven,” I whispered as I tucked her back into bed, turning down the light. As I rubbed her back while she fell asleep, I smiled to myself, my heart swelling in the knowledge that I got to hold on to my baby for just a little bit longer.