I remember being ten and scared to death that the menstrual monster was out to get me and that my days were surely numbered. All my friends were starting to drop like flies. Whispers filled the fifth grade halls “Jenny got her period!” No! Not Jenny too! I was shaking in my size six sneakers! The clock was ticking down and I was running out of time to prepare myself against the human condition of puberty and the wrath of a revengeful older sister with a score to settle. She was still harboring the fact that when she got her first period I announced the exciting news to the whole family over the dinner table… we may or may not also had guest. What? I was seven and couldn’t think of any other dinner topics of interest. While refusing to come up from under the table for a few hours she screamed at me that when the day came and I started my period she would be announcing it to everyone in the whole school. And I knew she meant it. The curse had been spoken. I was doomed.
Dreams and visions of white jeans soaked in the red banner of womanhood filled my every nightmare. I just knew I was destined to start my period in a public setting. Karma for all my wicked lady ways. Eve’s curse. My sisters curse. I was doubled cursed. Once in a while I would find a quiet place with my period anxiety and hug my knees while singing the Toy’s R Us song… “I don’t want to grow up, Im a Toy’s R Us Kid…. I don’t want to grow up…aaaaaaaahhhh”
It was summer and I was the last one to start my period out of all my friends. I had made it all the way to 15! Woot! Woot! I think the period fairies thought “this chick is losing her mind over the whole puberty thing I think she is going to need a few extra years to grow the heck up!”. Thank the lord! It did help lessen the anxiety that every single one of my friends got their periods before me. But I still “hid” my first period when the menstrual monster finaly came for me. For a week, I snuck around my house stealing pads and tampons and squirreling them away in various hiding places. Eventually my mom figured it out. Moms are mind ninjas. I broke down and told her my day had finally come. It was all over, my luck had ran out and so did my youth. I was unfortunately a woman now. Sad day.
My mom like a champ kept my secret for a good solid six months. I thought she kept it a secret for a year because a year later my sister told me she had known for a while now… she just liked watching me freak out once a month hiding pads and tampons for no good reason.
Now that I am a mother I don’t want my kids to have the same view about puberty that I had. It makes for a funny story but it took me a long time to accept that my body was becoming a grown up and that not only was that ok but it was something to be celebrated. That’s why my husband and I decided we would have puberty parties for each of our kids. It’s more of a date night with the parents where we go shopping for some teenage essentials and talk about how great it is to grow up over a big bowl of frozen yogurt. My kids all look forward to their puberty party. I love that we live in a time where talking about periods and puberty is being normalized and there is so many more resources to help the transition. There are even period underwear for teens to help stop leaks, wetness and odor. White pants around the world rejoice! Knixteen has a great period underwear line for teens that come with a choice of bikini style or boyshorts and the period underwear is also designed with no panty line to show through clothes. Lots of wins for teens here. Now teenage girls everywhere can have that extra level of protection and comfort while they try to navigate their changing bodies.
Setting teens up for puberty success starts at home with how we talk and share information about our bodies, puberty and hygiene. And this goes for all genders. We have even talked about periods to our tween sons because we thought it would be important for them to know what their female classmates are going through and how to show sympathy and respect for them. Puberty should be normalized by all genders and it should also be celebrated. Our bodies can do such incredible things and that is something to party about.
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