How to be yourself? Truly and really and whole? Three million people have googled that very question. One way is to tell our children why we are suddenly irritated, tired, snappy and sitting in a corner with a bag of Oreos weeping. About nothing and everything.
I had no choice. I had never ever been a woman who was surprised by their period. Unprepared for sure. Having the goods in one’s bag is an executive functioning skill. Certainly, if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written in this confessional forum, you are not surprised that I’ve needed to ask strangers for Tampons. But I have never been surprised by the splash of red in my underwear.
In fact, I have a full week to track, like a hurricane, the progress of my impending period. A full week of slowly undoing all the good I had spent the previous three weeks nurturing. I become vexed with myself and others.
Therefore, my children from a very young age, needed to know I was feeling “grumpy and might need a time out.” For the days that I have (I am not ever on my period — who coined that disturbing metaphor– one does not mount their period) my period, my Tampax are in plain view. The box is centered on the back of the toilette.
So, I have my period but the week before, my period has me. I become undone. I alluded to being grumpy and vexed. But I also pack swollen breasts, puffy eyes and an assortment of adult acne for the week prior to my period. All of which contribute to a profound lack of motivation.
When I was younger, way back in the late, late eighties and early nineties, I did not know what was happening to me. My mother never talked about her period. My sister’s period went unnoticed and unannounced. Discreet would describe my sister and her period. She was tidy and quiet about the whole mess. And my mother? Other than standing outside a closed bedroom door trying to instruct me in the art of Tampax insertion,closed-door between us, never spoke about periods.
But I did. I talked and talked and talked. My mother nodded and thus concurred. But she did not speak per say. She affirmed with her nods that she had experienced every single symptom I described. She didn’t become at all alarmed by my monthly brushes with death by hormones. Including heart palpitations. Her head nods were reassuring.
As a proud mother of a two teenagers, a boy and a girl, I schooled them from day one in the beauty of menstruation. I belabored the unterin wall sloughing and the wonder of the human body. I discussed, in the name of empathy and in an effort to fully be myself, PMS, hijacked hormones and the blood that flowed.
Along the way, they got wise. They learned that the week before my period I was homicidal and week after I was pliant. The week after I was receptive to nearly any of their half-baked ideas or requests. They learned how to get their needs met despite PMS and they learned how to get out of my way because of PMS.
(Image: google images)