“It’s ‘Cause Your on Your Period.”
If I had a tampon for every time some pre-teen/high-school wet-behind-the-ears boy blamed any from of emotion on my menstrual cycle, I would have enough to last a life-time and probably some left over for a friend.
As a woman growing up in the 90’s things were progressive, but women’s bodies and their function was still widely disrespected and made to be something to be embarrassed of. Having a period has, for most of my life, been something to be ashamed of.
I remember when IT started in fourth grade; my mom was out of town on business and my maternal grandmother had to come to my rescue. I had little to no idea what was going on and to make matters worse it had all happened at school.
My grandma did the best she could, being insanely uncomfortable with the whole thing, and gave me a pad the size of an adult diaper. That was it, the start of years and years of insults and assumptions made about my body. Walking into my 4th grade classroom the next day was like taking a ruby walk of shame. I could feel their eyes upon me, and I could here the boys and girls snickering.
I’m grown now with a family of my own, two boys, Moose (11) and Bear (4) and I haven’t really had anyone as much as whisper that an emotion I was experiencing was related to my period in years.
What do I know now after all these years with a period?
I know that I am a bit more emotional leading up to my period; I realize I don’t feel too great physically and that also dampers my mood. I also understand that its something every biological woman goes through.
I know it’s not fair to indicate that because my womb; which has now carried two children, and subsequently been cut open by two doctors, is shedding it’s lining that I am any less capable or any less myself.
It’s not fair but it happens.
Like I said, my period hadn’t really been a topic of conversation for years until, last August, as Florida was being hit by hurricane Irma, I was being hit by a pretty shitty truth bomb.
I was driving; my son’s and I were headed to a hotel to stay the night after a week without power. I was tired, dirty, and needless to say a little more than grumpy. We had just gotten a new kitten, which I was worried about leaving over night, and my husband was working half way across the state, but hoped to meet us that night at the hotel. I had packed everything for everyone, with little to no help from my equally tired and grumpy children.
As we loaded up in the vehicle I became a little testy, urging the kids to hurry up, repeatedly telling them to stop fighting, hush up and let’s go. They resisted, I pushed on and eventually my testiness turned to pissed off and I shouted at them to cut the shit and let’s go.
That’s when it happened, my then 10 year old son looked at me and said “You’re just being that way cause your on your period.” What the actual fuck, did he literally just say that to me? I was surprised into silence.
After a few beats we were in the car and down the road. Once I had him trapped in the car, where all good conversations happen, the discussion began.
Where did he hear that? Friends from school.
What made him think that was okay to say? He wasn’t sure.
Whether it be true or not could he understand how it could make someone feel hurt?
He didn’t really understand, so I shared with him what it was like being a girl. The shitty-ness of having a period.
How bad it sucked being told every emotion that wasn’t happy was related to a bodily function that I had no control over.
I asked how would he like it if every time he got frustrated I said it was his male hormones, his testosterone levels increasing as he gets closer to puberty?
He thought that was unfair, that even though he might become frustrated easier because of testosterone, that didn’t mean there was nothing to be frustrated over at all. That his hormones didn’t negate his experience, feelings, or desire to be treated fairly.
Hey, how about that he got it at least on a basic level. It was a strange conversation, and all throughout it I kept thinking “I wish I had prepared for this, I wish I knew the right way to handle this.” Because at the end of the day, I don’t want my son’s to think that’s an acceptable thing to say to anyone, ever.
I don’t want either of them to think its acceptable to think or say that some ones experience is invalid based on physiological things outside of their control.
I don’t know if I handled it the best, I am sure there were other ways to talk about, other approaches to take. At the end of the day I did the best I could.
I think, that day in our busted old truck, running from the heat of a natural disasters aftermath, I did what I wanted to do. I shed some light on something that my son had never thought of before, something that he could avoid as a white male, something that was so outside of his personal lived experience, that it was foreign to him.
Maybe, opening his mind to that will allow him to share it with others, and be willing to open his mind to other peoples’ experiences as well. Maybe our talk will decrease the number of pre-teen high-school boys who are out there making girls feel as shitty as I did when I was growing up.
My name is Mrs. C and I have two kids and an adorable husband. I have an arsenal of kid’s stories, half started blog posts, and a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have written journal articles, developed therapeutic assessments, and worked full time as a therapist for a short time.