I started my first period. I was at school wearing a pair of white painter’s pants. It was the early 1980s, which excuses the pants, but there was really no excuse for a 12-year-old girl to be going to school without a backpack full of personal feminine protection, and I won’t be making the same mistake with my own daughter.
I knew what periods were. I had an older sister who, at four years older than me, had surfed the crimson tide for a while before me. But my own mother never thought to prepare me with the proper protection or gentle suggestions that I hang up the white pants while I was menstruating.
I remember walking home from the bus stop, my sweater tied around my waist, mortified that a few of the other kids had noticed and teased me about it. I remember my mom hugging me and exclaiming that I “was a woman now” and letting me have my very own bottle of soda, that I didn’t have to share with either of my sisters. I also remember feeling sad, like I wasn’t quite ready to “become a woman” yet. That I still played with dolls with my younger sister on occasion and I still didn’t really like boys, in a like-like way.
Despite my Carrie-esque induction to the world of menstruation and my mortification at people seeing my first blood, I don’t remember feeling that different than I had prior to getting my period. I know I had terrible cramps and it seems like I stopped loving my own mom then. Not that I ever stopped loving her. I just became an evil raging hormonal monster who thought every single thing she said was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. Ever. My mom can attest to this. She can tell you the horror stories of my facial piercings and bad, stupid boyfriends and how I called her a “bitch” for the first time when I was 16, furious over whatever parenting law she had implemented to keep me safe from whatever bad decisions I was trying to make.
I think of my own daughter, this fiercely adorable and sweet child who hugs me so hard I feel my ribs cracking, whose face lights up like Christmas morning the moment she hears my voice. How she will hate me. How my heart will shatter into a million tiny pieces when she does.