“I’m finding it hard to be positive about something I hate,” I messaged a friend as we discussed raising our girls through puberty.
“It’s like welcome to your life sentence” I joked.
And there it was.
The reason I felt dread around my daughter’s impending menstruation. I was putting pressure on myself to feel something that I don’t feel.
It’s not because I feel sad that she’s growing up and will no longer be a little girl. It’s also not that I don’t know how to educate my daughter about how to cope with her period. I’ve always been open about development with my kids. As a mom and a clinical psychologist, I know all too well the importance of my children both understanding and having a language for their bodies, especially their sexual development.
It’s also not because I don’t think my daughter will cope with her period. I know she will.
The reason I am dreading it is because I find my own monthly cycle a burden and I wish she wouldn’t have the same burden.
My initial excitement at beginning my menstrual cycle as a teen soon shifted to frustration and irritation about feeling physically unwell with cramping and tiredness each month. Not to mention the constant fear of being caught out without sanitary items or bleeding through my clothes. The issues of disposing of sanitary items when I was at someone else’s home also caused me such anxiety.
Since having kids I find my menstrual cycle just plain old annoying. My biggest problem is remembering to buy tampons when I’m shopping. Sometimes a month flies by so quickly I get caught out short. It’s not the best scenario.
My friend pointed out that our menstrual cycles helped give us the children we have so perhaps we should be grateful.
And she’s right about that. As I said in response: “I’m really grateful for those two cycles, but the rest….not so much.”
I’m certain I’m not alone in this sentiment about my daughter’s period. I know I’m not alone in my feelings about my own cycle. And so I wondered, do I have to put this pressure on myself to be positive? Is it helpful for my daughter for me to do so?
Perhaps one day it will useful for me to be honest that menstruating stinks. That it can be unwanted. That menstruation is another life lesson in acceptance. Because my daughter will probably need to have her unpleasant thoughts and feelings about her period validated one day. And if my only option is to be all bright and breezy, I’m not going to be meeting her where she’s at.
I’m not planning to cloud her developmental milestone with my experience.
I’ll be ready at that moment with practical information and reassurance about her ability to cope.
I do hope she’ll have a different and more manageable experience than I had. I hear it’s possible from other women and so it’s possible for her. But if she needs someone to complain to down the track, I will be there and I won’t be sugar-coating or trying to make positive the event that is a period.
It’s possible my daughter will already know from watching me over the years that although a period is inconvenient at best, you can still be active and have a full life. And if her symptoms are out of control, there’s help for that too.
This puberty stage is just another segment in my parenting journey. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve felt anxious about getting it right or the first burden I wish my kids didn’t have to deal with.
But, I’ll be there for my daughter as she needs me to be. Sometimes one step in front and sometimes right beside her.