She's going to have sex one day.
Let's let this sink in. Well, let's let this sink in if you are me, or her father, or anyone else in her little world who loves her. This child, this hilarious, bossy, smart, wonderful little girl is one day going to DO IT. This six-year-old who still loves math, who makes couture outfits for her stuffed hamster, who crawls into my bed at 4 a.m. and curls up next to me, her breath soft and warm on my neck, faintly smelling of Disney mouthwash and baby shampoo.She is going to have sex one day, even though a few short months ago she was mistakingly and charmingly calling her vagina "my pajama."
Let's not get into the gory details. We all know what DOING IT means. I don't like thinking of my daughter in that situation. To rephrase, I don't like the idea of thinking of my daughter DOING IT in certain situations. When she is much older I want her to DO IT. She can do it after she has graduated from Cornell or Parsons. She can do it when she is madly in love with a man my husband and I like, a man who is kind to animals and old people, a man who has written her a poem, who has held her coat for her, who has fed her french fries at the Hôtel Costes inParis, who has placed a simple yet lovely engagement ring on her finger and who has a damn job and donates money to the Red Cross and who doesn't do drugs or make jokes about fat chicks and who would never hit a woman.
My husband's plan was that my daughter would be born gay. We are 90 percent positive this is not the case, so I assume the people she will one day DO IT with are male. I know it is naive of me to think the relationships my daughter would have had with women would someone be better, kinder, healthier than those with men. It is from my own experiences with the other gender that I believe relationships are prettier on the lesbian lawn.
Mom, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you once rocked me to sleep, singing Latvian lullabies and braiding ribbons into my hair and making sure I always had my mittens when snow drifted against our door, your lips on my forehead and the promise of cocoa with marshmallows when I returned. I'm sorry I was so horrible at age 16. I'm sorry I drank warm $3.99 cold duck and puked all over my ostrich skin boots and had love bites on my neck and snuck out of the house and acted stupid with stupid boys who have names I can't remember and that I did drugs and had sex and despite everything you always told me, never believed you that I was precious, and rare, and worth saving myself for someone who would pull out my chair for me.
I don't think I understood my own worth as a girl until I held my own girl in my arms. That was my own personal reckoning with myself. That by looking at this perfect, pristine, chubby-fisted little being, "that I made!" "that came from me!" that I was finally able to understand and appreciate everything my own mother had felt for me.
It took seven hours of labor, perineal lacerations and a hospital gown soaked with blood and breast milk for me to fully appreciate breaking my mother's heart when I became a teenager.
I want all the girls to have sex. I want them to be safe, and use condoms and another reliable form of birth control with a 92 percent success rate and fall in love and out of love and sleep with bad boys and good boys and smart boys and dumb boys and boys just because they want to.
I want all the girls to have sex for the right reasons, not because they are proving their own self-worth or desirability or because they have bad voodoo issues with self-esteem or their parents. I want all the girls to have sex because sex is wonderful and amazing and one of the best things in this world.
But I want none of the girls to have sex until they are in a healthy committed relationship, especially if I gave birth to them. I want to hand out pretty little purity rings like Halloween candy and tell you all you don't have to DO IT with a guy until you are married and that you can just as easily determine sexual chemistry by kissing and a good man is worth waiting for.
I know this is a contradiction. I know girls will DO IT. I know for as many girls who are doing it for the right reasons there are just as many girls doing it for the wrong reasons. And I know my own girl will probably DO IT many years before my own selfish heart is ready for her to. Which is why when she turns 11, I will be getting her the HPV vaccine.
80% of women will have had genital HPV by the time they are 50 years old. The Gardasil vaccination helps protect against four different types of HPV, two of the types that cause 90 percent of genital warts cases and two more of the types that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer.
It is estimated globally that one out of every 123 women will get cervical cancer. Behind breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer that strikes women. Regular pap smears and the HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer. And to me, losing my daughter to such an ugly disease outweighs my own personal moral Pollyanna desires that she only have sex when she is older and with men who have a clean bill of health from their doctor.
I know there are slight risks associated with the vaccine. I have spoken with her pediatrician, I have read the CDC reports, I have read the heartbreaking story of Natalie Morton and can list all of the potential side effects of Gardasil, everything from the benign swelling at the inoculation site to the severe, the extremely rare case of death.
I don't believe a governor has the right to sign an executive order mandating all girls have to receive the vaccine. I believe that this decision belongs to every parent and their pediatrician. I also know when my daughter is old enough to receive the vaccine, we will probably learn more about the long-term affects and risks associated with it. One thing I know for sure is that I'm sick and tired of presidential hopefuls spewing misinformation and lies in order to further their own agenda, which was the case a few days ago when Michele Bachmann told a tearful story about how a mother claimed the vaccine made her daughter "retarded."
This is just as dangerous as radio stations in South Africa claiming sex with newborns can cure AIDS. I understand Ms. Bachmann is using this story to further her campaign, despite how amazingly bizarre and ignorant this story is. I wonder if Ms. Bachmann understands that young girls are doing it, and contracting HPV, and one day some are developing cervical cancer because of it?
I love the idea of my amazing daughter saving herself for someone just as amazing as she is when she is older. I'd like to lock her in a tower or get her a chastity belt that could be removed when she is 25 and has seen the world and has a great career. And even though it broke my mom's heart to take me to Planned Parenthood and get me birth control pills when I was a teenager, I know that one day I will probably do the same thing for my own daughter.
And I know my mother would have chosen to have me vaccinated against HPV. I think as mothers we all create beautiful scenarios in our minds about what we want for our daughters. I think as mothers in our minds we realize the truth, and the love comes in when we chose to make our daughter's safe, even though it may break our hearts.
I don't want to think about my daughter having sex. I don't even want to think about her wearing lipgloss. But more than that, I don't want to think about her one day developing cervical cancer because I was too ignorant to believe she would never have unprotected sex.