Mary’s account highlights that sometimes our parents/families can get it right and even throw a party into the mix!
Where it all began
Dressed within a bright pink Bon Bleu tracksuit I got up to change the television channel over and I heard the words I didn’t except or clearly feel to hear. “You’ve stated your period ” noted by that time of the month residue on my trousers. I ran upstairs to the toilet in embarrassment at only 10 years old how could this be occurring.
What follows next I am forever grateful to my family for, only recently appreciating their efforts as assumed everyone got this response. Initially my mum and oldest sister came upstairs providing me with comfort, reassurance and guidance. Helping me feel ok with placing that first pad on my underwear. Actually felt quite ceremonial, a rites of passage, a tiny step into womanhood.
By the time I come downstairs as my sister was giving me information and advice such as how long to use each item for, disposal and hygiene regime. My mum had enlisted my other siblings and next door neighbour who were like family (now the case via marriage) came around and we had a party with a KFC bucket, cheeky sip of Pink Lady, music and sharing stories of entering into womanhood. Both sexes present which only alienated any fears, doubts, distress or discomfort I could have felt with feeling different to men or awkward to discuss my period with.
The first but not the last…
The actually hardest and most difficult part was telling friends. I was the first in my class or at least the one to state that I had started. My peers were amazed unknowingly looking at me differently, already being physically diverse to my whole class another tick to the list I felt. I began to live within conflicting dimensions, at home confidently articulating any concerns or just stating facts about my menstrual cycle but within school I shied away not wanting to discuss it at all, feeling embarrassed and ageing too quickly.
Only once other friends started I began to feel ‘normal’ an identity shared I felt, being within an exclusive club as an alumni quickly began to form in class us (bleeders) verses them (non-bleeders) despite whole class being friends. We started supporting each other with pads when someone was too heavy that day or had forgotten to pack a few extra in their bag coupled with advice (not sure how much a 10 year old can give lol) and recognising the pain associated with our monthly scheduled ‘friend’ and the beloved joy of being within a group of girls our periods all became in sync.
Passing on the B.A.T.O.N
Never ending love
To my daughter: If or when I am blessed to have a daughter I hope to offer her the same support, advice, guidance and allowing it to be a family affair of celebration…. But of course within a sensitive way allowing her to be the driver within the path we take together.
With my mum and siblings reaffirming conviction I believe it allowed me to more easily accept ‘becoming a women’ and it has given me the confidence to talk about it so nonchalantly in my adult life.
I proudly thank my family for allowing me to loudly express that I am a women and yes so what I regularly bleed!!!