I've joked before with my friends that I'm going to write two books, one under my name and one under a fake name as not to embarrass my children more than I currently do – I just can’t afford the therapy. This post is something that should probably go in that 2nd book but the more I've thought about it the more I've decided it's belongs here. Just to clarify it does NOT belong here because I want to embarrass my children but because this might actually help someone understand the reality of this experience (or better yet, help me in the future) so ... here we go.
I debated a disclaimer with this, that it will include way too much information for some - I even googled cute TMI graphics to add but the truth is those who would walk away out of fear are the ones who need to read it the most so - no disclaimer for you!!
Ok, maybe a tiny one:
Disclaimer: there will be some personal female information included in this blog that you may not want to know BUT you may also be better for knowing, If you are a boy - you'll likely be very grossed out. There. How's that? Hopefully it's good because it's all you are getting from me. That out of the way... let's do this!
I'm often told that I'm a "great mom", honestly more times than I think I deserve it. "Hey Holly, it's Tuesday - You are such a great mom!" and I know the people really believe it and are sincere. Honestly, it does make me feel good - we all need to hear that now and then because parenting is hard. Seriously hard. Not every day but those times that are hard really suck the wind from your sails and you need someone to fill them back up again so it's always good to hear. Plus, I love to share my good parenting moments - mostly because they are huge brags on how awesome my kids are way more than anything else (who doesn't love to do that?!?!). But, really, they are much easier than sharing that "Hey, I lost my sh!t moment" with the world. *I'm pretty sure everyone knows I do have those moments too because I do.
But sometimes, I completely and totally fail as a mom at teachable moments. Like, really, completely fail. And that is what I'm going to share with you - Woo hoo!! Why? You know what, I don't have a great answer for that why yet but that voice in my head keeps telling me to write so I'm sure by the end I'll have this figured out. Trust me! Keep reading...it’s like a train wreck – you won’t be able to stop once you start.
The other night Allison (11) came to me after her brother went to bed and said she was having this really bad pain in her abdomen. Me, being the complete "Holy sh!t, my daughter will one day have her period and I so am not ever going to be ready for that" freak that I am was sure that was the reason why and the first "logical" answer that came to my mind. So, I did what all "great moms" do, I decided this was the perfect time to chat about this subject (that I would rather never have with anyone, let alone my baby girl) and be sure she was really ready.
And this is where it all went downhill. Fast. No, really, like fast doesn't even describe it and I just couldn't stop.
You know how sometimes you are talking and thinking to yourself..
"SHUT UP... Really, stop."
"No, really, don't say another...agh you said it... STOP talking already!"
but you just keep talking? Yeah, that was me during this entire conversation.
It went a little something like this (Oh how I wish I was making this up)... Deep breath...
Me: "So, princess... you know there is a lot going on with your body right now and one of the things that will probably happen soon is you'll get your period." (Ok, that was actually not too bad. I just should have stopped there and let her Google the rest)
Me: "I know you have talked about this in class at school and they've told you some things - I just thought maybe we should talk about it so you are ready when it happens"
Allison: Looking interested when she should have just looked at me and said, "No more, this was good, please stop talking now" but she didn't so I kept talking.)
Me: "So, a few things will happen to your body right before you get your period and you are probably not going to understand them at first so hopefully if we talk about it, you'll know everything you are going to experience is "normal". (Oh, I know, right now you are thinking I'm doing really well and shouldn't be so hard on myself. Brace yourself, that's all about to change.)
Me: Sometimes that pain in your abdomen there that feels like someone is twisting your insides... those can be cramps. Pretty much everyone has cramps. They hurt. Sometimes they are here on your sides, like tonight, sometimes across your lower stomach and sometimes they are in your back. And you know what? They suck. Really. There's no other word, they suck. It's painful and uncomfortable and you are going to feel like you just want to curl up in a ball and cry because they suck so much. Don't worry, there are things we can do when that happens to make them go away... or at least suck a little less."
Allison: Looking slightly mortified, just slightly. Not enough to stop me from telling her more about what will happen to her... I wasn't kidding when I said this was not my best moment!
Me: And it's not just cramps, everything about your body is going to completely freak out for a few days. Including you. One minute you are going to be my sweet, amazing princess and the next I will look at you smiling and proud and you will say (insert deep devilish voice here) "WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME? KNOCK IT OFF! GO AWAY! I DON'T LIKE YOU AT ALL" and then you will be all sweet and my princess again and then I'll look at you again and smile and you'll start CRYING for NO REASON but you won’t be able to help it – you’ll just CRY and when I try to make it better you’ll scream at me again (with the devilish voice) GET AWAY FROM ME NOWWWWWWWWWWWW. And you’ll be craving foods - like chocolate – really, a lot of chocolate so you’ll be like “Happy face, lalalalalala… WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? Tears. GIVE ME CHOCOLATE NOW. Tears then lalalala happy again. And Parker and I will want to hide from you for a few days until this is over.”
Allison: Tears welling up in her eyes but also laughing so I was a bit perplexed by that and, well, kept going despite the voice that said SHUT UP ALREADY!
ME: But that’s not even all of it. Do you know what actually happens when you have your period?”
Allison: Looking freaked out again because really, what more could I say at this point? “Kinda”
Me: “You bleed… from your who-ha for about a week. A lot. And it’s disgusting. Really, it’s just gross. And once it starts, it doesn’t stop until it’s done. So, just constantly blood oozing out and (shudder) it’s horrible. I’m sorry. It sucks and it’s horrible and gross and I wish you didn’t have to go through it. Really gross.”
Allison: Looking pale and tearful again “Why does that happen?”
Me: “I don’t know. Something about eggs, ovaries, and your uterus and that’s a great question for Grandma. She can tell you. It’s just one of the sucky things about being a girl. Or a “woman” as you’ll be after that happens. Woo Hoo (totally sarcastically).
Allison: Not looking impressed with my answer but clearly plotting her discussion with Grandma over this.
Me: Seriously attempting to make this better… “So, You will have some choices. You can use pads which stick to your underwear and soak up the blood and you change it each time you go to the bathroom… or more frequently depending on how gross you feel Or there are tampons…”
Allison: “those are the things that go inside you, right?”
Allison: “Yeah, I don’t think I want to do that.”
Me: “You will change your mind about that eventually, especially when you want to go swimming – because that you can’t do in a pad”
Allison: Tears falling again but trying to look brave
Me: “You won’t start with a tampon. But with time, we’ll figure that out and when you are ready, it’ll be fine. Really. I promise.”
Allison: Blank stare
Me: “I’m not helping, am I?”
Allison: “Well, it’s better than the song that was in the video they showed us at school.”
Me: Grinning… she so has my sarcasm :- )
Me: So, this might help… "Grandpa had to deal with 4 girls in the house all the time. And a lot of times, when women spend a lot of time together, they have their periods at the same time. So Grandpa had to deal with all 4 of us getting all emotional and yelling and freaking out on him. Can you imagine? I do not know how he survived".
Allison: Smiling “Poor Grandpa, did he want to run way?”
Me: “ Most likely every single month!”
Me: So, when I got my first period, I had no idea why I had so much pain in my back. I went to the school nurse and she sent me home - which was awesome because Great Grandma Lovadee lived nearby and when I was sent home sick, I got to go to Great Grandma’s house until Grandma Colleen was done working and she always made me feel better. I had no idea what was wrong but I took a nap, woke up, went to the bathroom and discovered I had started my period. And, since I didn’t know what else to do at that moment I took a TON of toilet paper and stuck it in my pants. When Grandma Colleen picked me up, I went right to the car really mad while she talked to Great Grandma. When she came to the car I told her and she got all excited and she hugged me and said all happy “Did you tell your Grandma?!?” LIKE I WOULD TELL ANYONE I said “NO and neither will you!” And Grandma said “But she’ll be so excited for you!” I was pretty sure I was going to die – but clearly I didn’t.”
“So, here is the difference between Grandma Colleen and me… I am NOT going to get all excited and tell you this is the best thing ever and it’s awesome that you’re a woman now and it’s all fun and flowers and yay!! Because it’s not, it sucks and anyone who tells you different is on drugs. Except your Grandma, she’s not on drugs, she’s just a little weird sometimes. But please tell me when it happens and I’ll try to be excited and not remind you how much it will suck right away.”
Allison: Just staring with little tears occasionally falling….
Me: “Sweetie, I don’t mean to scare you. It won’t be THAT bad. It’s just not fun. BUT you will get used to it and it will just be part of life. It may happen tomorrow or it may not happen for another year or two or three.”
Allison: “My friend ________ at school got her period before Christmas.”
Me: “Well, see there! You guys are at that age when it could happen. It’ll all be fine.”
Allison: Crying again.
Me: “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”
Allison: “Nothing, you just kind of freaked me out a bit with what will happen.”
Me: “I wish I could say it’s going to be awesome and you’ll love it but that’s simply not true and I really don’t want to lie to you. I want you to know what to expect so you don’t feel like something is wrong with you for turning into a crying emotional scary monster each month when you are PMS’ing – which is what they call the time before your period when you act that way. I really didn’t want to scare you. Just help you be ready because I think it may happen soon. But here is the good news – one day you will be old like Mommy and your period will stop and you won’t have it anymore. Either because your body decides it’s time or like mommy you have surgery to make that go away because you’re becoming severely anemic. So – SILVER LINING there – one day it’ll be gone… it’s just going to be awhile.”
So, we hug and agree she can sleep with me that night. The next morning, I wake up to my alarm clock of Parker yelling at me that it’s time to get up… I get up, let the dog out, get Parker his breakfast, go to the bathroom and … WTH???? I’m having my period? You have GOT to be kidding me. This happens maybe once a year for a couple days. I am NOT happy. Cramps, bloating, mood swings… oh yes, the whole entire fun joy of it all. But thankfully, it was me and not Allison. Although I’m a little concerned over whatever my body is thinking might be happening here. I am too old for this.
I’m looking at the silver lining, while I’m in cramp hell my princess is still my period free baby and I’m crossing everything that it stays that way for a very long time.
See… I warned you, it was an avalanche with a little bit of TMI mixed in. Like a train wreck you couldn’t avoid or stop watching happen in slow motion.
Sometimes, I simply don’t get it right. I’m sure I was supposed to tell her what my mom (lied and) told me… how awesome this was that I was now a woman but I didn’t. If there is something out there to make this an awesome, flowery, happy time feel free to let me know because my recollection of it was it sucked. Every month, it sucked.
Ah, the joys of parenting. Period.