December 8, 2009

A Delicate Subject

I'm going to post about menstruation today. And I'm going to speak in generalizations....not about any specific individual...

It is an exciting time when a young woman begins her cycle! I remember the first time I had to bring a purse to school to carry "supplies". My girlfriends who walked to school with me noticed that I had a purse. One asked why I brought it. I proudly opened it up so they could see my menstrual pads. Everyone gasped, since I was the first among my friends to start my cycle. It was my shining moment, and I didn't have to say one word to impress anyone.

When I was in college, I took a Developmental Psych class. The professor was a fabulous teacher. We had already discussed how many cultures have "coming of age" ceremonies, from Bat Mitzvahs and Quinceaneros to ancient Native American ceremonies. Most Americans don't use ceremony much beyond religious confines.

My professor pointed out how meaningful ceremonies and celebrations are. When she was growing up she had a friend who was the youngest child in a family with 4 sons. Her mother died when the daughter was young. The father was a wonderful nurturing parent, but of course, he didn't have first hand knowledge about the changes a girl experiences as she grows into a woman. When she was 11 the daughter went through the uncomfortable task of telling her father when she needed her first bra. She also had the foresight to tell him that she was going to need menstrual supplies at some point in the near future.

The morning finally came when the daughter shyly told her father that she had her first period. Her father didn't say much, other than, "Okay". The daughter went off to school and father to work. Later, when she arrived home from school, the girl went to her room. She was amazed. Her room was overflowing with bouquets of yellow roses. There were flowers on every flat surface! There was a note from her father telling her how much he loved her and how proud he was to be the father of such a lovely young woman.

When the professor was done telling the story, all of us had tears in our eyes. We all knew that it was something we wished we had experienced ourselves--a loving welcome into adulthood.

In our culture most women do not view menstruation as a positive thing. It's a hidden and "shameful" thing. Girls learn from mothers and sisters. They look forward to their menarche, but it is rarely greeted with anything other than a tossed box of Tampax, and maybe, a hug.

Parents of girls, I'd like to suggest that you spend some time thinking about how you can mark your daughter's coming of age in a meaningful and memorable way. Whether that means a special meal with parents or strong minded women, sisters sharing a brunch together, or just a bouquet of flowers. It can be a wonderful way to show your daughter how much you love her and how proud you are of her growing maturity.


10 comments:

Josette said...

Thanks Beth for posting this, what beautiful thoughts. I too was a daughter with just a father when this moment happened for me...he didn't buy me roses, but he did make me feel that it was special, becoming a young woman. He for a while would purchase the necessary supplies for me so I wouldn't be embarassed to! My mom died when I was just 6, and by menstruation age I helped a good bit at home and did some of the shopping so it was funny that he would separately purchase those items for me when it was a new experience.

When my own daughter had this experience, it was a special time, not marked by a particular event that I can remember (like flowers I mean) but a continuance of all the talks we'd had about that day coming, and how it was not JUST a necessary evil, but a part of a beautiful thing...becoming a woman.

With Jessie, because of the Down syndrome I have to say I feel much less celebratory (a real word?)about the whole thing...just wondering how well she will deal with it all.

Thanks for your beautiful, as always, post.

Anna said...

what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing this story.

Heidi said...

What a great idea. If I ever have a girl I will ensure that we do something very special for her when she enters adulthood. Thanks for sharing!

ds.mama said...

I agree with you on this one. I bought my God-daughter a ruby necklace when she got her first period :-) But on the other hand I do think a shot of Depro to make it go away would be a nice gift too, lol.

soontobemomof9 said...

A great post indeed! When my oldest reached this point, I confess I wasn't ready! Now with my next girl... I will be very concious of how to handle it better.

I remember my mom giving us "Are you there God its me, Margaret!" LOL.. she made my sister and I read it, adn then talked to us about it. My sister and I still giggle over it! :)

Tina said...

Thanks for this beautiful post, I hope when the time comes I will be able to do something special for my daughter so she is able to understand what this time in her life signifies. I know I have a long way to go but these are issues I think about alot especially since I am not sure how hard it will be when the times comes to make her understand these changes in her body. Would love a post from you on that since your Hannah is reaching her teenage years, and what your experiences on that are.

exnyers said...

:)

Amy said...

What a beautiful idea! We have approached the onset of menses with the same tone - it is a beautiful part of growing into a woman. Yes, it is inconvenient at times but it is a part of God's plan for all.

Natalie said...

Personally, I hated it when my periods started, but when I read the Red Tent, I wished I'd lived in a different time!

Beverly said...

oh such a wonderful post!