I need my children to see me in love

I am polyamourous. I fall in love often and mostly this love exists under certain conditions. Falling in love unconditionally is me in my rarest form.

The last time I was unconditionally in love with someone was before my children were born. Although that love carried through into the first two years of my daughter’s life, she didn’t really get to witness that because that love was not for her father, whom I was with at the time.

I need my children to see me in love.

I never saw my mother in love. I heard stories. I read letters. I saw pictures of a high school sweetheart and weekend getaways, my mother in rare form. I saw the joy in her face as she stare at the ring on her finger, the devastation in her voice when she realized she’d lost it, her tears and anger as she grieved the loss…of the relationship. The regret of not following her heart. I’d often wonder where it all originated.

In those times I didn’t understand that this is love.

She never explained to us that she was in love…it was just something we had to assume if we knew any better. I didn’t see her being affectionately cared for, kissed, and held. I never heard anyone say to her, “I love you, Dianne.” For some odd reason, someone somewhere thought this might be more damaging than helpful for children of single parentage.

It seems as though the idea was to hold motherhood separate from such acts particularly if you are not married to the object of your affection. My mother had never been married.

I’m so in love

I’ve written about Mike many times throughout my blog. There is no question about it. I am in love with this man…this person. We met five years ago. In that time we’ve spent many fleeting moments together. We’ve shared passion in passing. I’ve often found myself questioning the validity of it since it doesn’t quite look the way I’ve been taught that it should. I recognize it only by the way it feels…by the way this feels. By the way I recall my mother feeling. I finally know what it looks like for me.

I love that he loves me exactly where I am. We don’t have to go over all the technicalities of gender roles and such. He understands that I exist way outside of those parameters.

Recently, this man I’ve known and shared this connection with for the last five years was granted the honor of meeting my children for the first time. This is not the first time my children have met someone that I’m involved with, however it is the first time they’ve met someone I am in love with. Someone with whom I interact with differently…more affectionately.

My children are the primary objects of my affection…and my cat. They get all the hugs and love and kisses. Mike doesn’t know this truth though because I shower him with the same loving affection. Yep, I’m so in love.

My children deserve to see me in love.

On the day they were set to meet him, I prepped them first. Yes, I did. My children have never seen me in love. They don’t know what that looks like and I wanted them to be clear so they wouldn’t have to make assumptions the way I did as a child.

When I sat them down, it was brief. I told them today they would meet Mike. I let them know that today, they would bear witness to what mommy looks like expressing romantic love. I let them know that they would be catching all the love vibes and why it was such an awesome thing to witness. Finally, I asked them if they were ok with that and not to my surprise, they consented to seeing their mommy in love. I would have done the same.

We spent the evening on the beach me, Mike, and the kids. We talked to them more about our relationship, how we met, and other things. I talked with Mike about my relationship with my children and the values that I’m cultivating with them. All of these things are important to me. My children got to witness that the way I express my love for Mike is not very different than the way I express love to them.

This love is infinite even if my relationship with Mike is not. I’m not concerned with its end. I’m concerned with what it is and more than anything it is NOW. And if you know like I know, now is the only time that matters. It is an energy that my children will reference whether consciously or subconsciously for a lifetime. They will measure their own love by this energy and that is a good thing because this…this love is great. It is all those things that l read that love should be in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

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Ball of Light Justin Copeland

Raising a Sexually Empowered Daughter

My daughter recently turned 9 and is grasping the cusp of puberty. I know without a doubt, she is a confident, responsible, independent, and considerate young person. However, every day I question whether I am raising a sexually empowered daughter. Now, this question might have been easier to answer except I live in a society marred by patriarchy. Not to mention the fact that she spends her school breaks with a misogynist, womanizing fool and entire culture of people who subscribe to “a woman’s place” bullshit. But so did I, and look how awesome I turned out. One fierce feminist!

Sexual liberation begins with sexual empowerment. Sexual empowerment, as with any other type of empowerment, begins with you.

What does it mean to be sexually empowered?

For me, to be sexually empowered means owning all aspects of your sexuality, acknowledging the oneness of your mind, body, and spirit in every sexual encounter, and ALWAYS putting your desires and well-being first. Sexual empowerment means never avoiding the conversation. It means openly exploring desires without judgment. It means putting your health and your personal values first. It means embracing all the things that shape your sexuality.

Once when my daughter was an infant, her paternal grandmother was changing her diaper. As soon as the diaper was off, in normal baby fashion, my daughter reached for her vulva. Her grandmother immediately pushed her hand away and told her not to touch because it was stinky. The statement made me recoil with disapproval as I scolded my mother in law never to teach my daughter that her vagina smells bad. My mother in law looked with a blank stare as if to say, “That was not my intention,” and perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps she only meant to say the urine soaked diaper made it smell, however, I wanted to make her aware of the message she was sending. A message that could serve as a foundation of insecurity and shame, that could affect her sexual confidence as a woman.

Ball of Light Justin Copeland

The Talk

The Talk. . .the dreaded talk for many parents, the “avoided until the last minute” talk, the “I’ll wait until they bring it up” talk, the “we will just assume they already know once they get to that age” talk, the “OMGosh she’s pregnant; it’s too late, now” talk. And if you think this is not the truth, I’ll tell you this, my mother or father have never talked to me about sex. NEVER! Looking back at how much my life has been affected by sexuality and sex education, I’m completely shocked. Like, how can you not have this conversation with your child!? This conversation is as important as the “look both ways before crossing the street” conversation.

Should I talk to my 9-year-old about sex? Is it too early? Is she ready? If not now, when should I tell her? If anything, what should I tell her right now? Certainly, she doesn’t need to know everything right now, right? These are just a few of my more pressing questions. Many of my friends of 9 to 11-year-olds express fear and concern about talking to their sons and daughters about sex. I’m not afraid to talk with my daughter, I just don’t want to inundate her with sex information prematurely but I also don’t want to neglect the subject.

Following HER lead

My daughter has always been an inquisitive child. You can often discover her interest and concerns by the questions she asks. My daughter is an early bloomer. She began showing the first signs of puberty at the age of seven which caused her to have a lot of questions.

There were a lot of “oh my goodness” reactions from friends and family concerning my daughter’s prematurely blossoming body and even a mention of birth control. It has also caused a stir at sleepovers as the girls change into their jammies. However, it has made her completely comfortable with openly asking questions about her developing body. This makes the talk much easier to navigate.

Despite all other influences, sexual empowerment begins with YOU. In this case, my daughter. I teach my daughter that differences, ALL DIFFERENCES, are what makes us magical and unique. I teach her to be honest, responsible, and accountable. I focus on empowering her in all aspects of her life, not just sexuality. Everything about her is beautiful and natural and I instill that in her every single day. I let her know how important it is to instill this message in others as well, even though I don’t always practice it myself. Just the other day, I saw a woman and I said, I love her legs (she had amazing legs) and my daughter whispered to me, “Well, just tell her.” These are the things that let me know that I am teaching her well.

Teaching with Love & Guidance

I do my best to teach with intention and in my moments of imperfection, I forgive myself quickly, move forward and do better. Her dad got upset with me because I taught her to twerk. I know I might get a lot of frowny faces and I won’t defend my stance. Yes, I taught my then 8-year-old to twerk. She asked because she saw me doing it in my mirror and so I taught her. I’m also teaching her Spanish. I also downloaded an app that teaches her to draw, which she’s very good at by the way. I’ve taught her to braid hair, do simple computer setups (because I didn’t want to have to keep doing them for my 4-year-old), and a number of other things that she’s asked me to teach her. The point is, I empower my daughter to seek enlightenment and to educate herself without limits. It does not matter who disapproves as long as it is something she desires.

My entire focus must be centered on my child, her interests, and her desires. I invest heavily in gentle guidance, concentrating more on influencing her perspective rather than her behavior.

Welcome to Womanhood

At this point, my daughter expresses no interest in boys or anything related to intercourse. She is, however, going through pubescent physical development. What she is currently experiencing has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with becoming a woman. Too often, we directly associate womanhood with sex, which in term sends a dangerous message to our girls.

And so, I center our conversation around explaining to my daughter the changes that occur while becoming a woman. I explain to her that her journey into womanhood is the most honorable, most powerful, evolutionary change that will ever happen in her life. Women have a divine purpose. Life begins with a woman, as a woman, and physically within a woman. As a woman, you are born with everything it takes to bring life into this world both physically and most of all spiritually in more ways than pregnancy and birth. Womanhood is a continuous journey.

I make her aware that there will be naysayers. There will be individuals who will doubt you and second guess you long after you have succeeded ten times over because of the negative social constructs designed to control women. I teach her that they won’t just be men.

In time, we will add more to the conversation. We will address those things as she becomes aware of their relevance to her life. In the meantime, her journey into womanhood and what this means for her is the perfect segue to her personal journey of sexual empowerment.

Artist feature

“Ball of Light” by Justin Copeland

A digital artist out of Baltimore. Transforming pain while sending love and peace through his work. Visit Justin online to discover how to add his work to your collection.

IG @justincopeland_art

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