Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Welcome to womanhood"

In fifth grade, I remember my teacher telling all of the boys to report to a specific room and all of the girls to report to a different room. From the permission slip we had to get signed and rumors that were circulating, I knew that we were about to attend a class that had something to do with sex education. I was nervous. Excited. Scared.

I remember watching the video they showed us. It went over the importance of proper hygiene as you go through puberty and how puberty was not something of which to be ashamed. Each of the girls in the video was met with an enthusiastic "congratulations" when they told their mothers they had started their period. "Welcome to womanhood" was the general, peppy message.

It wouldn't be until 7th grade that I would start my period. I had been having a terrible stomach ache, which I would later learn were menstrual cramps, and I was sitting on the toilet when my period actually came. In the movie from fifth grade, the girls had received "warnings" that it was about to occur (i.e., spotting), but I skipped right over the warnings.

I felt a tinge of excitement because I instantly felt more mature. By this point, a lot of my friends had started their periods, and I was beginning to wonder what was taking mine so long.

No one was in our house but my mother. I called for her, and she came into the restroom without knocking. I informed her that I had started my period.

Not necessarily expecting "congratulations" but expecting to get something for my period, I was surprised when she responded by asking, "how do you know?" She seemed annoyed.

What did she mean, "how did I know?" Isn't it pretty obvious how I knew?

I told her about the blood and stomach ache, and still she responded, "let me see."

I was embarrassed and confused. There was a lot of blood. And I felt kind of gross.

I hesitated, and my mother rolled her eyes and kind of shook her head disapprovingly, repeating "let me see." I moved my legs to the side so that she could see what was in the toilet, and she responded, "oh, that's nothing," and started to walk out the door.

I called after her, telling her that I needed something so that I could get up. She seemed even more annoyed and came back with a thin pantie liner, responding that "that should do." Yeah, for about five minutes...

She walked out of the restroom leaving the door wide open. I felt like I had offended my mother without really knowing why.

In not one of those video clips from fifth grade did the mother-daughter interaction play out like this. I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong.

15 comments:

  1. Dear one I am sorry how your mother treated you at that delicate time of your life. Hugs....

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  2. oh.. I feel so Outraged at the way your mother responded to you! this is seriously preposterous (i am sorry if i am offending you dear) but believe me this got my blood boiling.
    It seems that you've missed most part of your childhood, the way i have. Nevertheless I am pretty sure a beautiful life awaits you ahead :)
    keep smiling
    love,
    Shadow

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    1. Hi Shadow, thank you for reading and commenting. I know that these types of experiences have impacted me very deeply, but I'm still trying to figure out how these memories make me feel. I really appreciate your encouragement. I hope you have a nice Sunday! xxx

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  3. She looks much like my mother. I'm sorry that you had this experience. This type of disconnect from your mother will make you feel like something's wrong and it's got to be you. My mother rejected me when I was raped at elementary age and it was dad who raped me. She treated me as if all was my fault, called me a whore. I had to figure things out and get it together quick. When I had my first cycle I was very young and didn't have the class on sex nor periods. I was scared and went to my mother to help me once again. She walked out of the bathroom without any compassion, she hated me. It was my oldest sister who came and gave me my first pad. I had to learn how to clean myself and learn that this thing came every month. Later in years I had my first miscarriage. My mother I called for help once again. I was in the bathroom at her home. She knew I was pregnant she walked in, looked at what came from me and then said 'yeah you lost that one' and then just walked away. I don't remember nothing after that. I don't even remember cleaning myself up. I do remember lying on the bed feeling numb and just feeling like a failure. I cried myself to sleep that day and her and I never talked about it again.She never gave any concerns for my grief nor well being. She has never demonstrated motherly love to me..Today I can talk about these things and reading your post today gave me a little more courage to accept the miscarriage and even allow myself to get pass it in a healthy way...I thank you for sharing your experience and hope that you receive all the love and encouragement you will ever need....RiRi

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    1. RiRi, thank you so much for sharing so much of your story here. I am appalled by how your mother reacted both when you were in elementary school re what your father did and later when you had a miscarriage. You are so strong, and even as a child, you were already facing and learning how to survive pain that even many adults do not face. I am so sorry that you had endure so much hardship, but I am glad that you have come out on the other side and continue to fight for yourself. Best wishes to you and prayers as you continue to move forward in your life. xxx

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  4. M.M., I really wish your mom would have handles this better. When this happens it is a weird time for us. A time filled with uncertainty and a time we need to be reassured by none other than the woman in our lives(usually mom). She should have been more there for you.

    With me it happened while we were at church, and unfortunately I was wearing white which is about the worse color at this time. Mine happened like yours in that my stomach hurt and then it was like someone turned the faucet on. I knew what was happening once I felt myself become damp because mom had talked to me no more than a few months before that and she explained what I can expect. We always sat near the rear of the church(thank GOD) and mom wrapped her sweater around me and took me to the restroom. She explained to me again what was happening and why it was happening. We cleaned up and used what looked like a giant sponge. Mom said and I quote, "This is for when Aunt Flow bring the whole family with her".

    I never will forget that. She always had a way of using humor to make me feel a little less out of sorts. Later that day after a change of clothes mom took me out shopping. We got what she called "Granny Panties", just a little more comfortable ones for the big pads. We also bought pads of multiple styles and sizes so that I would know what works best for me. And of course the tampons too, which was an adventure all on its own. LOL I won't get into that here, LOL She also went over pain meds with me for the cramps and talked about how birth control pills could help with the cramps, but she was quick to remind me that they were FOR THE CRAMPS. We literally spent the rest of the day having a girls day.

    I really wish you could have had a day like I had. You deserved to have even a better day. Back then I didn't view that day as anything more than just a change from girl to young woman because that was what I was told it was, but now I look back on it with fondness because I know how lucky I was to have my mom. I hope that I can be there for my lil sis when it is her turn. Should be anytime.

    I want to be mad at your mom because she wasn't as there for you as we all need our moms to be, but I will just say that I wish you had better support. (((hugs)))

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  5. Hi .. i am sorry your experience was so harsh .. my mother was very similar, I cant remember her even explaining a period to me..all i had to go off was the class talk we also had in 5th grade.. i remember when i went into her room to tell her and ask her for a pad, without even looking up she said, "go ask your sister." and that was the end of that ... i've also recently been thinking about my relationship with my mom and moments like this..and i am still trying to manage what effect they have had on me.

    keep writing . it has helped me so much!

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  6. It always amazes me that it takes only one moment to alter so much - to create such a strong and significant memory. I remember those videos, and I remember that class session. My teacher asked that we put all questions down on paper, and to put them in a hat (so that no one would feel uncomfortable asking questions). She answered them one by one, but she never got to mine - and I needed her to. Mine was about sexual abuse.

    I apologize, I tend to go on a bit when memories are triggered.

    I wish that your mother would have acknowledged what was taking place, and the significance of getting your period. It is such a large piece of being female.

    I have come across your blog from another, and look forward to following your journey. Have a good week.

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  7. Being a mother of a 17 year old son...I cant imagine how our mothers were so UN-caring. I'm so happy you are getting this out of your system. That is a tough time for a young girl

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  8. So glad to see you back..... Hugs.

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  9. Can i just say that you did nothing wrong. The way your mother reacted and behaved had little to do with you. It is more of a reflection on her. Don't let her ignorance and lack of empathy take away your joy of life. I know its hard, take it one day at a time to figure out what kind of relationship with want with her (if any at all) and what your boundaries are. Sometimes we crave the natural feeling of wanting to be close with our parents and because of them we cant achieve that goal. Its so important to set your boundaries in stone, realize what you need from your mother and what she is actually capable of achieving for you. What we need and what we receive can be the hardest things to deal with and that's when we have to realize that we cant make other people act the way we want them to. You're doing a wonderful job talking about it and i hope that you post more often, i miss reading your blog.

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