When my mother told me, the first time, that she had gone and gotten an HIV test, I believe I just about lost my lunch. That was, plain and simple, too much information. My mother did not need to have an HIV test because she didn’t have any of the risk factors. Surely she was not sharing needles during her use of IV drugs, she didn’t even use IV drugs. My mother was not at risk of contracting HIV at her place of employment because she works for herself, in her own home. And as far as I was concerned, my mother did not and does not have sex…never had sex…doesn’t even know what sex is…sex is not even in her vocabulary. As far as I am concerned, as far as I wish to be concerned, sex and my mother don’t belong in the same sentence. It is blasphemous to even attempt to put the two thoughts together. So much so that it is truly painful to continue with that train of thought. (I know…crazy, right?)
Yet, that train of thought is very important as I continue on the parenting path with mine. As parents, we lead by example even when we wish that were not the case. Our children may hear our countless diatribes about life’s lessons but, at the end of the day, the most received messages are those that we are not consciously sending. Our little beasts are little beasts because we have acted in a beastly way at some point and they are only doing as we do while thinking about how ironic it is that it doesn’t match what we say. I am reminded of this every time I tell The Boy to stop stomping up the stairs and then I am caught off guard by The Man yelling, “Moooom? why are you making so much noise?” as I stomp up the stairs when no one is looking. Only they are looking…always.
So what example am I setting by refusing to acknowledge that my mom may possibly know something about sex?
My mother set a good example for me by not only getting an HIV test but talking about it. Talking about the inherent fear surrounding a possible diagnosis of HIV infection. And despite having no risk factors and being consistently safe, we all fear…I am sure. But, my mother set a spectacular example for me and as uncomfortable as I am regarding the sharing of this kind of personal information between parent and child, I believe it is gravely important to work throught the discomfort and share this kind of information.
My children don’t need to know specifics about my experience with sex. However, they do need to know that their mom is always responsible and takes charge of her health. So, I have decided that I will, in honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2012, sit down and talk to The Man and The Girl-in-the-Middle about HIV with specific intention to instill in them an understanding of the need for routine health screenings that do not stop at heart disease and diabetes. They are both at the age of responsibility for their own health matters. We will talk about the importance of getting tested and we will all make appointments to go and GET TESTED!
- “Should I Get an HIV Test?” (peanutjellysandwich.com)
- Routine HIV testing should be available for all, Canada’s top medical journal says (vancouversun.com)
- A New HIV Testing Option (healthyheels.wordpress.com)