Thursday, June 18, 2009

A History Lesson

I just submitted this to Beyond the Birds and the Bees. Whether or not it's posted, I wanted to post it here. That website is awesome, and it really had me thinking about what I've grown up with. I sort of look at this as an open letter to my parents... Although they would be shocked (and probably not happy) that there's stuff on the interwebs!!!! about them.

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A History Lesson

Since I've begun reading BBB, my mind has begun wondering about what I've grown up with and my experiences with "sex ed". I realized, at my young age, I can't quite remember one defining moment with my parents. More importantly, what I've come away with are examples. Role models that have instilled in my the knowledge to not only approach sex intelligently but my entire life that way.

My mother was born and raised in the South in the 1950's and 60s. My father was born in a family of ten in Palestine in the 1940's and 50s. (We won't get into politics at the moment.) Although they grew up in opposite ends of the world, they were raised in similar households. Fairly Christian, fairly conservative, you mostly get married and have kids at a young age. Your life should be your family, and your family is your life.

And yet, my mother and father created a different road for themselves. Both the oldest children of their family, they created a life of their own first. The free spirited nature of the 1960s and 70s definitely rubbed off on my mother, and she spent a good amount of time living in different cities around the south with her best girlfriend and gay guy friend. My father used education as an escape from the realities of the traditional Arab life.

My father and mother were 42 and 32 respectively before they married or had children. They have never ever pressured my two brother or I about dating or marriage, even as we reach our "prime" marrying age around our neck of the woods. I look at both sides of our family, and our parents have silently (and vocally, at times) instilled values in my brothers and I based upon the "Learn from the mistakes of the people that surround you to avoid making the same mistakes."

As I'm growing up, maturing, dealing with being an 'adult', and being separated from my family, I appreciate what examples my parents have set for me. The focus on living your life in an intelligent manner has set the tone for my lifestyle. No matter what I do, I try to keep sane. If the time comes for me to have a family, I will be more physically vocal about safe sex and education of our bodies. But I will always keep in mind the one thing my mother said recently when talking to myself and a friend of mine who was a teenage mother (and has done extremely well for herself) - "I don't care if you're having sex, just make sure you're having safe sex!"

So, thank you mom and dad. Dad, for your strong, silent personality that kept me in line (almost out of fear) and mom for the cool, hippie spirit that comes through your motherly love and overprotection. You've taught me well and I will always value that.

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