Remember when you were in 7th grade, way back before your mom would allow you to wear those whorish tampons that all the “cool” girls were wearing? Remember the good old days of wearing maxi-pads that had wings and were as big as a 747? Way before “First Moon Period Parties.” Back when your period, snuck up on you like a ninja and shivved you, usually someplace public, when you least expected it like right in the middle of confirmation or during your first boy/girl dance. Then you bled out like the near survivor of a shark attack? Way before your lady bits had a one of a kind special delivery in the mail each month.Hello aunt Flo, how the hell are ya? Yeah, good times.
Remember wearing a sweater “just in case” you had to McGyver it into an “accident” hiding cover up because you wore WHITE pants to school during your PERIOD? Yeah, me too. Puberty sucked for me. Besides the sprouting of all the hair in all the weird places and boobs growing (or not) you felt like a freak with pimples, greasy hair and if you were really lucky braces. But even with all of this, there was one silver lining …the missing of the gym class, more specifically swimming. You got to instead sit in the bleachers and hang with the other afflicted girls.
In middle school I was an awkward, gangly thing of a girl who had a growth spurt in every direction. I lost my center of gravity and any shred of self-esteem went into witness protection. But the period, as new and disgusting as it was to me in those first months, saved me from having to put on a bathing suit and jump in the water, emerging like the worlds ugliest drowned rat because, oh yeah, my dad wouldn’t let me shave my legs so, well, you can imagine what all that hair looked like wet. I did what any Latina girl my age would do, I grew a small mustache to distract people from everything else. No, not really. Not on purpose anyways. At least in regular gym class, I could cover it all up with nifty 1980’s tube socks.
From the moment I figured out that my “period’ could get me out of swimming, I immediately had at least 2 a month. That was 2 weeks a month of sitting on the bench writing notes and talking about boys. It was glorious while it lasted and then in 8th grade I got a female gym teacher who I’m certain charted my cycle because it was back to one week on the bench and 3 looking like a drowned Mexican rat. Once again and for the next 28 years, my period never got me out of anything. In fact it got me into a lot of hard work, what with all the sex, pregnancies and children and all. Until today.
In the past year, my girls have really begun to understand puberty and what is going to happen thanks to our dog who went into heat. They both know that the hair, boob fairy and period are all on its way. I’ve also assured them this is all very natural and I will make sure that they have all the necessary items available, including a razor, an aesthetician for those out of control eyebrows and lip hair, Midol, a good bra and dark chocolate. We are prepared.
Then this morning, I woke up feeling more than a little crampy on day 4 of flood gate shark week so I said to the girls, “ Girls, I don’t think we can go to the pool today. “ It was met with the expected, whiney, “WHY??????” (because to be honest they beg me daily to go to the pool, rain or shine) and I calmly told them the truth. “Well, I’m having my period and it’s one of those “heavy” days. I’m feeling really crampy and I just don’t think my tampon would survive the walk down to the pool.” To which my 7-year-old ( yes, the same one who yelled that I was going into heat once before in a public restroom) knowingly shook her head, turned to her sister and said, “See, mom’s going through puberty again.” Then she said, “It’s okay mommy. That would be gross. Let’s do crafts.” No argument, no long sigh, no whining.
I don’t know about you but I’m thinking I might be having two periods a month again. I figure she’s got at least 4/5 years before she figures out any different. God, I love being a woman.