“I like that hair on your butt.”

I was sick. It was the middle of the day. And I’d been vascilating between waves of chills and clammy sweats. I decided I’d hop in the bath. My kids are now at an age where I have that luxury. The one I thought I’d never get to. The one where I actually go to the bathroom solo about every 4th time. Where I can put on my makeup in solitude and get through the mascara step {aka step one and also, often, the final step} without someone busting in, grabbing my leg, and leaving me with a black swipe across the bridge of my nose. My children {all boys} are 8, 6, and 3.5. So we are somewhat in a phase of ease after years that felt a bit like survival of the fittest. I know. It sounds harsh. But it’s our truth.

So when my three-year-old came in while I was bathing, I said, “ummmm… that’s not my butt.” “What that is?” the curly mopped little sweetpea inquired. “Well. That’s part of mommy’s mommy parts.” “Where your penis is?” he asked. “Remember, mommy doesn’t have a penis. Mommy has a vagina. Now please let mommy have some privacy.”

We are there. In the place where I’m starting to feel a bit like my 13-year-old self in the girls’ locker room after PE. I feel like I need to start changing in my closet. And always wear pants. And be a proper grown-up. 

Until this point, we’ve pretty much been casual with bodies around the kids. It’s not like I like to stand in the kitchen in unmentionables or walk around the house airing out my bosom in a ta ta towel. But the kids have had free reign in coming in and out of our room and thus, they have seen mama’s parts. We’ve talked pretty openly about what different parts are. The differences between boy and girl anatomy. The function of said parts and why girls sit down to pee. We’ve explained that mommy never had a penis so no… it didn’t break off. 

The boys have been on the scene as I have breastfed and pumped for hours on end, exposing my nipples and my boobs with a whole lot of regularity. As I’ve stayed home and potty-trained two out of three, I’ve sat in the bathroom with them and presented tactics for using a toilet instead of a diaper. I’ve coached a constipated kid to successfully squeezing hard poop out of his bottom. And we’ve already discussed appropriate times and places for pal around with your penis. 

We’ve been very open about the human form. Which honestly served us quite well when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I was healing and needed assistance from friends and family, the boys weren’t weirded out by any part of it. And now, of course, my boobs are a common topic of discussion… especially the fact that they are after market. My kids got to see the implants before they went in. And they got to see my drains after everything came out.

Perhaps we’ve been too open, I don’t know. But I’m starting to feel like we’re at a stage where our bodies need to become a more personal thing. My eight-year-old and six-year-old have not showered with me for a couple of years at least but I’m thinking maybe the 3.5-year-old is starting to get a little too interested in it all.

My children have long been the type who will freely walk around naked as they are changing. They love to be in their undies. They still shower and bathe together. And they believe that the bathroom door should be wide open at all times. But maybe I’m being too naive?

A pants-free sleeper, I’ve started to have pants at the ready should my kiddos enter the room. And changing in private is something I am really attempting to make a habit. But I’m not sure how I teach my boys to be modest but also empower them to understand that the human form is nothing to be ashamed of.

Times are a-changing. Gone are the days of 8 siblings sharing one bedroom. And I would say it’s almost unheard of for children of the opposite sex to share a room. In fact, a lot of kids don’t even ever share a room (ours do). But was it really so bad when children had to adapt to learning privacy within shared spaces? I just don’t know.

I’ve talked with some parents who find it outrageous that my kids have seen me naked. Or that they already have interest in their parts… very personal interest. And I get that. Bodies and the human form are definitely a debatable topic. But where’s the right balance? Is there an age where parents should just say, “No more being naked and running around.” Is there a stage where it becomes taboo for my boys to point at my boobs and ask a question and for me to answer? Are we well past that? And is there a normal when it comes to approaching nudity in a family home? I just don’t know.

I’m thinking that we will slowly move into a “close the door when you are exposing private parts” philosophy once the third is potty trained. And as for the Oldest, I already ask that he change in private and also that they all respect our personal space and privacy… and each other’s. I want them to always feel comfortable and not ashamed to ask questions, but I also want to make sure that we are teaching them to be appropriate about the whole body business.

And I’m hopeful, most of all, that my boys will be able to refrain from announcing, “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina.” to their Kindergarten class. That, making what they are aware of socially acceptable, for our current society, that might be the most important part of it all. 

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Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/