The memory is vivid. My thighs were sticking to the plastic neon blow up chair I was sitting on, squeaking loudly, when I heard it.
My older sister’s friend was telling her what happened on a TV show.
“They met up in a hotel room and, you know …” she said, censoring herself because I was in the room. “… ended up getting pregnant.”
I stopped adjusting and peeling my sweaty thighs off the chair. My curiosity peaked.
Hold up. Babies are made … in hotel rooms?
I put this curiosity in my pocket and then waited until I could get my mom alone. There were clearly things she wasn’t telling me and I needed to uncover the truth.
That evening, as she read me a story in my bed, I grabbed the book’s edge and gently closed it.
“Mom, we need to talk.”
“I found out today that babies come from hotel rooms. Why haven’t you told me what hotel room I come from?”
She put the book on my night stand and settled in.
“Well, honey – babies don’t actually come from a hotel room.”
She then proceeded to tell me about men’s parts and women’s parts, and to my horror, made a circle with one hand and a pointer finger with the other and demonstrated how sex works.
Wide eyed and horrified, I told her that was enough learning for the day.
She kissed my forehead and started to leave when it suddenly occurred to me.
“Does Dad … do this … TO YOU?”
“Well yes, honey. That’s how we made you.”
The room spun.
I was a Daddy’s girl, through and through. And the fact he could be doing this?
BEHIND MY BACK?
It was more than I could bear.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but now that I knew, I couldn’t forget it.
Just like the deaf child who didn’t realize people could hear his farts (read this if you missed it), you don’t know, what you don’t know, until you know it.
We have patience when this applies for children, but rarely for each other.
Rarely for ourselves.
We don’t know, what we don’t know, until we know it.
Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”
When you let that sink in, it’s easier to forgive others. Offer some elbow room. To be more patient and more kind.
And maybe, just maybe – now that we know what we didn’t know then, we can even forgive ourselves.