A few weeks ago, my son and I were chatting in the bathroom when he spotted my birth control. He picked it up, read the sticker on the pack that tells you not to take the medication while pregnant, and side-eyed me.
“What, mother, is this?” he asked, his face all shifty and suspicious. He doesn’t call me “mother” unless he thinks he’s getting scammed in some way.
I glanced over. “My birth control. Why?”
He was ready for me.
“And when are you getting into a situation that would mean you need this?” he asked, with all of the imperiousness of a prudish mother, a shocked auntie, insert-your-overbearing-relative here.
“Excuse me?” I asked, genuinely shocked. “I don’t think that’s information you need to know.”
“On the contrary, mother, I think I have a right to it.”
I’m only human, and while I’d love to tell you guys that I had some kind of killer response to this, I didn’t. Guys, I just laughed. But since my kid and I have always had a really straightforward, honest, age-appropriate relationship, I knew I’d have to answer. So I did.
I explained to him that, for starters, I don’t want to get pregnant right now, and it’s possible that I could. He opened his eyes wide but didn’t say anything, so I went on. (FYI, yes, he has known how a fetus is made for years.)
Then I explained that the pill also helps manage chronic ovarian pain that I’ve been dealing with for years, it will stop new cysts from growing, and it has the bonus effect of mostly clearing up my very sensitive skin. He accepted all of these reasons without much fanfare, then waltzed out of the room to watch another episode of Teen Titans Go! because they are basically our virus pod.
While he seemed totally happy with the answers he received, the fact that he felt he could question me about situations I am getting into that might necessitate birth control made me realize that this new single mom phase of my life will require me to draw some new boundaries with my perpetually precocious, nosy-as-heck kid.
My son and I have always had a very Lorelai-and-Rory kind of relationship. He’s my kid and I’m his mom, and I’m actually a pretty big stickler for some of the rules, but in general, we just get each other in a way that I’ve always loved. I treat my son like a person, he treats me like a person, and one of my biggest parenting rules for myself has been to meet my kid where he is, wherever that is, developmentally. We’re close, and he knows that he can come to me about anything.
But I haven’t made it a habit to talk to my son about my marriage or my relationship with his dad, and I’m not planning to talk to him about anyone I might be involved with now — not in any way that isn’t appropriate, and definitely not in any way that would necessitate him needing to know about situations.
However, another one of my rules for myself as a parent is that I don’t lie to my kid. So when he asks where I’m going, I tell him. I was seeing someone briefly this summer, and when my kid would ask who I was seeing, I’d tell my kid the guy’s name and describe him as a friend. It wasn’t untrue, but it wasn’t totally factual. It’s a weird new gray area that I’m learning to navigate; the trouble is that my kid is already 11, and I have to navigate it kind of quickly.
The birth control situation is just one of many that I’m sure are coming my way. I don’t plan to hide anything that I’m doing from my kid, but he also doesn’t need to know the details unless they are going to impact his life in some big way. I’m fine with my son knowing that I’m seeing someone, but less fine with him knowing what … that means.
I don’t know, guys! I’m still new at this. I’ll figure it out.