For the last few years I’ve decidedly kept my dating life shrouded from my parents. I just didn’t talk about it. They would inquire and I would change the subject. Eventually they learned that they weren’t going to get anything from me and they stopped asking.
A few weeks ago I was talking to my mom about medications, since she had been going through a bunch to try to alleviate her migraines. She asked if I was taking anything, and I replied that I was only taking my birth control.
“Why are you still taking birth control?” she asked. “I thought you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
So, cue me trying to explain casual sex to my mother. “You don’t have to be in a relationship to sleep with someone, mom.”
“Yes you do,” she retorted, almost instantly. “So you mean you sleep with people you’re not dating?”
“How many people have you slept with? A lot?”
I was NOT going to answer that question. One, because I don’t remember, and two, because I didn’t want to give her a heart attack. (Frankly I don’t think my number is THAT high, but it would be too high for her.) “Um, define ‘a lot’…” I said.
Fortunately the conversation fizzled out at that point.
I usually avoid talking about this kind of stuff with my mom, but sometimes I see an opportunity to educate and I have to take it. I don’t think she’s a closed-minded person, I just think she hasn’t been exposed to a lot of things. Clearly she thinks that sex is only supposed to happen when you’re dating someone. I felt like it was my duty to explain to her that some people don’t adhere to that image, myself included. I also could have taken this opportunity to explain other reasons I might be taking birth control, like how it regulates periods and keeps my skin clear, but I wasn’t able to get to that. But at least I brought up the topic of casual sex. Even though it’s awkward I like to do this occasionally because I need to see how she’ll react. I need to know if I should just continue to keep that part of my life private or if she’s actually open to having a non-judgmental conversation about it.
So I’ve kept quiet the last few years, because my dating life has been pretty much the exact opposite of what she expects it to be. It’s easier for everyone if I just don’t talk about it. I don’t mention the people I casually sleep with, and I haven’t mentioned anything about Sir.
I don’t know what it is, but my mom always asks me if I want to do dinner with her on nights when I have a date with Sir. It’s like she knows. It’s weird. Anyway, yesterday morning I was doing my makeup and without fail I get a text from her asking if I wanted to get sushi later. I told her I had plans.
But a short time after that I got a text from Sir. Something came up and he had to go back home. We had tickets to a show, but he didn’t want them to go to waste and asked me to still go if I could. So I end up texting my mom back saying that my plans had changed, and I asked her if she wanted to go to the show with me instead.
“Sure,” she said. “Sorry about your date. You’ll find a good one one of these days.”
I thought it was funny that she assumed I had a date. But her comment also put me on edge. I’ve been flaked out on before but that wasn’t the situation. Of course she didn’t know, but this was Sir we were talking about and I had to defend him.
“No, he’s a good guy, mom. Something legitimately came up,” I said.
Fast forward a few hours. My mom and I are in line, waiting to get into the show.
“Did you want to go to this or did he?” she asked.
“We both wanted to.”
“So why couldn’t he come?”
And so it started. I could have been vague but I saw this as another opportunity. I unveiled a few entry-level details about Sir, just to see how she would react. I mean, even those would probably be difficult for her to take. I told her that he lives in Missoula and that he was on his way over but had to turn around.
“What does he do?” she asked.
“He’s a doctor.”
“Really? How old is he?”
“He’s in his 40s.”
“Jess! You’re 26!” Her eyes were wide in shock.
I chuckled. I knew the age thing would be a sticking point. “So?”
“Does he like you?”
“How do you know?”
“Because we’ve been together for a while now…”
“Oh. I thought you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
Truth was I hadn’t said anything because I didn’t want her to judge me. I mean, what I have with Sir isn’t exactly traditional. And I didn’t say anything about kink. I don’t even know how to go about that conversation, honestly. Some things are probably better left unsaid. (And, to be picky, I haven’t lied to her. I don’t refer to Sir as a boyfriend. I don’t like that word for him. It doesn’t fit. It’s not…good enough. So technically I don’t have a boyfriend.)
But I put it out there. I finally said something. Just a little, just enough to get her wheels turning. I was actually pleasantly surprised that she didn’t completely blow up at me. I told my best friend about it later and she was equally impressed that my mom took it so well.
So maybe she is learning. I guess it just takes some time.