One day I was walking home from my in-laws’ house. I was pushing my infant daughter in the stroller and my toddler was walking beside me. The baby had fallen asleep and my toddler was deep into one of the complex, somewhat hard to follow, stories she loves to tell me on walks like those. All of a sudden she stopped in the middle of her story and asked me, “Mom-Mom, where do babies come from?” I was floored. After all she was only 2 and a half years old. I figured I had at least a couple years before I was going to have to handle that question. She stared up at me, as if to say, “I’m waiting, let’s see what you got.” I took a deep breath and went for it.
“Well baby-cakes, when a Mommy and a Papi really love each other, the Papi plants a seed inside the Mommy’s tummy and it grows into a baby. After nine months or so, when the baby is ready to come out, the Mommy pushes really hard and the baby comes out of her toto (toto=vagina in our house).”
She squinted her eyes at me and said, “So, you pushed me out of your toto?”
“And baby sister too?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Welllll, I pushed you out of my toto,” she said.
All at once the apprehension I felt the minute that ominous question was asked, was gone. I burst out laughing. She smiled. “What?” she said. I went on to explain to her that I was her mother, and she was my child and mommies are the ones who do the pushing. Many people I have talked to say that I should have just told her, I’ll explain it to you when you’re older, but I just don’t agree. When it comes to my toddler, I try to answer all of her questions as honestly as I possibly can. For me, it’s about finding an age appropriate, child appropriate version of the truth. My daughter has recently been learning about plants and how they grow, so telling her that a baby grows like a seed is something that conceptually makes sense to her, and it is close enough to the truth, without getting into graphic details and breaking out charts of our anatomy, but not as far from the truth as say, the stork theory. It also gives my daughter a sense of how powerful and amazing a woman’s body is, which I think is important for a little girl to know.
Answering questions like, ‘where do babies come from’, doesn’t have to be daunting. Taking a stab at awkward, possibly uncomfortable questions and topics like those, can be an exercise in your own creativity. And while in the moment that the question is asked, your breath is taken away, and you wonder if perhaps the world is going to stop turning if you dare to answer with a shred of honesty, I am here to tell you, time keeps ticking, and you survive to answer more breathtaking questions.