Making this video about my affection for Judy Blume’s classic novel Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret inspired me to expand on my comments on Hannah’s First Period Story and make a proper post about my own experience.
Like Margaret and her pals (they had a club called PTS, or the Pre-Teen Sensations, an idea emulated by a group of friends and I), I couldn’t wait to start my period and was totally enraptured by the idea of becoming a “woman”. Bras, periods, sex, makeup – all of it fascinated me, and I read endless books and magazines about all of it. My Mom was awesome (she herself had had no preparation for the onset of menarche, and was terrified that she was dreadfully ill when her period started) and tirelessly answered my questions without embarrassment.
I was a late bloomer when it came to puberty, and was 13 and a half by the time my period started. We were away on a summer family vacation at a lake in the BC interior. Summers always made me self-conscious about my persistently uncurvy body, and this holiday was no exception – was there something wrong with me?
About halfway through our time there I was beset with agonizing cramps (to the point where appendicitis was considered the likely suspect), and stayed in bed for 3 whole days. I can still remember the hot, dry smell of the pine trees outside my parents’ room as I lay in their bed. My Mom stayed with me constantly, playing cards, reading books and rubbing my back. While she didn’t say anything at the time, she later told me that she was pretty sure what was coming. Strangely enough, in hindsight this is probably my fondest memory of the entire experience.
When the fateful moment finally arrived it was strangely sad and empty – there was nothing more to do or say other than put on one of my much-coveted stash of pads and let it happen. Word spread to my brother about my new womanly state and he and a buddy of his couldn’t resist needling me about it over a card game dispute. “Ooh, she’s got her period, her peeeeeeriod!” I clocked him and fled in furious humiliation to my bedroom; hardly the magical fanfare I had so eagerly anticipated.
If this all sounds a bit depressing – well, it kind of was. The good news is that in many ways, my unfulfilled yearning for some form of recognition or celebration – honouring – of my own coming of age led to creating Lunapads (in fact, it’s what we’re all about!) Every aspiring menstruator knows this truth: that she is awesome. The problem is that as a society we’re not always there to educate them and celebrate when they start. I would love to hear from pre-menarchal girls about how they would like to be honored when the time comes, as well as from parents or other friends of girls about any plans they may have to support and celebrate menarche when the time comes – oh, and of course more first period stories. Blessings, everyone!