Maya Getting to Know Womanhood.


Friday, 20th of May, 2016

Maya was perched on my bed and I was drying myself off with the towel after getting out of the shower. In that moment I felt very much like I was my mother, and Maya was young me. The way Maya’s eyes were watching my nude body felt the same, a generation later. It was like I could read her mind, the look on her face gave me access to my own childhood recollect and disposition and attitude. I was fascinacted by my mother’s body, but I did not like it. By Maya’s age I was critiquing the female form, starting with my mother, and I know Maya was doing the exact same thing to me. I will talk more about that another time, but today, I wanted to use the positive feeling I have about my own body to help her rise. With her staring so intently I knew it was a growing up moment and I am always panning for these moments for Maya and I to talk about womanhood. I know there is gold to be found and as I tuned into my physical feelings, that were alive and active beneath my skin, I began a mature conversation. There was a glint in her eye you know, and I revel in the fact that I get to see it, my girl absorbing the way of transition.

“About this time in my cycle I always feel very full, like my body is ripe, it makes me feel expansive.” I said with my hands indicating the area of my tummy that swells. I could tell Maya could see exactly what I was talking about because usually my tummy is flat, and I know Maya takes note, and I knew she could see on this day my tummy looked shapely and more curvacious. Without a word exchanged, I continued. “Before I bleed, I feel round, and it is a good feeling, like I am filling out, and almost ready to let go and release. That is what is actually happening, you are ripening like fruit and when you don’t fall pregnant, then you release the energy that was there in preparation for a baby. It is like inside of your body toils, and then each month when a seed is not planted, a tide comes and washes the soil away. It is very metaphorical actually, because the moon controls the tides, and bleeding each month is called your moon time.” I said to Maya as she was perched on my bed.

There are so many layers of womanhood, I find myself so deeply in love and excited to share all of the facets with my girls. Some aspects of course are not so light, like explaining rape, but compared to the amount that is unfortunate there is so much beauty, well at least I have faith will be the case for them.

(We have studied female anatomy @mayaclimbstrees)

Maya took in all that I said with some silliness. Whilst Elle would sit and be serious and ask questions, Maya becomes like a cartoon character. Some cliche pop culture tween. I do not use the word tween in our home, but when one is talking about a cliche pop culture 10 year old, tween is a perfect word. Her face was a little screwed up like I was grossing her out. So of course I continued.

“Well you know it is very important you learn this from me, because I have a very good experience and enjoy it, but once you go out in the world you might read all sorts of things about womanhood, and a lot of it won’t be true for you, and if you read it you might believe it and interpret the feelings wrong.” I said as I selected what to wear for the day.

“No, wear your blue pants!” Maya said in protest when I grabbed my black checked pants from my drawer. “No, the blue ones are still for good. The black ones are worn out and can get dirty now.” I said. Our conversation was the perfect mother child mish mash of trivial and important. Thats how you keep it balanced you know, nonsense mixed in with serious.

“What top do you think I should wear?” I said as I pulled out a few tank tops. Maya shook her head letting me know which colors not to wear, and then I decided on green. As I slipped the tank over my head I realised it was the first day of the year to wear a tank top. “Oh my goodness,” I said, “look how long my armpit hair is now!” I said to Maya as I lifted my arms up to inspect the hair in the mirror. This will be my second year of not shaving and I am officially abundant and au’naturel.

Once again Maya was pulling faces, this time over my armpits. “Well you know, it is part of womanhood.” I said with a smile. I felt so light and happy and grateful to be the me I have grown into. “When you become a women you get hairier.” I said matter of factly. Maya instantly replied “I am going to shave.” I did not feel any need to try to talk her out of shaving. It is the wise mama that leads by example, it is making sure your plants are watered to the roots, you just know they are drinking it up, no matter what is happening on the surface. I found some satisfaction in knowing I am her role model whether she likes it or not and then I said, “You know, some people think hairy armpits are sexy.” I smirked when I said this, knowing it was the icing on the cake. To this Maya started faux crying, and then she started to pretend stick her finger towards her mouth to indicate she was puking. It was all very dramatic because there is never a dull moment with Maya around. She then threw herself onto my bed and started biting my pillow like she was a wild animal out of control. Goodness, the sounds that child can make, she was hilarious.

I took that as a sign that she had enough conversations about menstruation, and her hairy armpit mother being considered sexy. I had to laugh. Seriously, us together is so funny.

Maya had asked me “What does sexy mean?” this time last year.  It was one of those things that I wanted to handle very delicately, so that my flower children stayed fragrant. “Well, sexy is an attractive feeling from your head to your toes. You can either feel it from the inside, that you are sexy, or you can feel it from the outside, that someone else is sexy. And sometimes objects can be sexy, like a car or a utensil. Or thoughts too, a persons mind can be what fascinates you. It will be when something appeals to you so much that it wakes up all of your senses. You know how we studied charkras? Well it is when all of your charkars suddenly feel very alive, especially your root charkra, and it is a primal connection to your core desires and attractions.”

To be honest I thrive in this aspect of motherhood, when I get to explain the more complex nature of what it is to be a human. Sexy is not defined by one body type that happens to become the qunitesenctial physiche of a particular time. Sexy is so much more than that and as I stood there with my flat chest, and narrow hips and hairy armpits, which is the polar opposite of pop culture’s current ideal, I felt confident and delighted that I was letting my daughter know, I like my body, and I am sexy.

As soon as I was dressed, Maya recovered from her theatrics and asked me to brush her hair. With perfect timing Elle came into my room wanting her hair brushed too. I love to brush the girls hair, it is one of my great pleasures and the girls know this and come to me each day. When the three of us had our hair brushed we were able to walk out the door.

As I looked back into my room to where we had just sat, I felt the stirring of sentimentality, that it is these little but poignant moments that I live for. When I get that sense that I am raising my girls into wise women.


Beautiful illustration of Maya by Clara Encinas Thank you Clara!

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2 thoughts on “Maya Getting to Know Womanhood.

  1. Oh Kirsten, thank you! Thank you for sharing these moments that shine so brightly. You are such a beautiful example. I recently got my cycle back after 9 months of pregnancy and 21 months of breastfeeding (well, I’m still breastfeeding, but no longer at night). And my daughters who like to bathe with me, or simply come in the bathroom while I’m using it, noticed. I was inspired by your previous post and tried to remain matter of fact about it all. Unfortunately, my 4 1/2 year old, Iris, was very upset about the whole thing, sobbing and saying she doesn’t want to” become a women and bleed!” I was very upbeat and matter of fact about it, but somehow, it bothered her. Well, as you say, we can only lead by example.

    I can’t tell you the camaraderie I feel with you and the sense of connection I have to your words. It’s something I’ve missed ever sense Mothering magazine stopped publishing their print magazines. Your words speak to me so deeply and they fire me up, too. Sometimes, as we get older, it’s easy to let that fire die – maybe a bit of cynicism creeps in, or a feeling like we can’t really make a difference after all. You help me keep that spark alive. Thank you for sharing here and the audio was beautiful.

    Big hugs!

  2. Rachel, I have thought of Iris for days, and her crying is just so beautiful, and I do not mean it is beautiful that she was sad and worried, but that her connection to blood, and perhaps pain brought up some fear in her, and that she told you. It is pretty special, and will be a great mothering message for you. It will be interesting for you to see how she settles with it all over time 🙂 I appreciate knowing you are there doing what you do so well and sharing it with me. Likewise, you inspire and stimulate thought and action! Big hugs to you too!

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