Period Poem: On The Day I Got My Period

Period Poem

On the day I got my period
I was crowned with daisies
and given a beautiful silver and golden dress
made out of the sun and the moon.

On the day I got my period
my family rejoiced.
My mother made high-pitched, joyful sounds.
My father bowed in reverence.

On the day I got my period
I was invited to seek wisdom from the
sky, water, earth and fire.
I was told this task would be my true initiation into womanhood.

On the day I got my period
I climbed to the top of a mountain
where I was challenge by the sky
to make my inner beauty as unforgettable as the view.

On the day I got my period
I rode the river’s untameable rapids on a wooden canoe
where I was challenged by the water, to travel with life’s flow.

On the day I got my period
my shoeless feet drummed wildly against the plains.
I ran and ran until I heard the earth challenge my heart
to remain grounded even when it was racing.

On the day I got my period
I sought wisdom from the fire, but I couldn’t find it.
As tears extinguished any hope I had of finishing my journey,
I heard the fire inside me speak,
challenging me to always keep it ignited.

On the day I got my period
my family gathered together for a feast.
The men hunted. The woman gathered
and prepared the most succulent of dishes.

On the day I got my period
my family danced to the tune of the trees,
moving to a universal rhythm
we all have known since before we were born.

On the day I got my period
I felt a oneness with all other creatures
knowing that we are all
daughters, mothers and grandmothers.

On the day I got my period
the elders recalled their own stories,
travelling back through their own
proud passages of womanhood
until the glowing embers turned grey.

On the day I got my period,
I snuggled under a warm blanket of moonlight
and dreamed of the long chain of goddesses,
who I was now a part of.
– Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend, Woman

If you enjoyed this period poem, read more from my book On The Day I Got My Period. It’s a collection of stories about first periods for young women who just got their first period.

How to Insert a Tampon (or Why I Quit Ballet)

Ballet Shoes
When I first got my period, I was given a box of pads and tampons so I could decide which I preferred.

The problem was the tampons were super hard impossible to insert. I tried to use the instructional pamphlet, but it didn’t explain enough for me to understand.

I felt stuck.

Helpless.

I loved ballet, but was scared to continue taking  lessons.  I didn’t want to wear a leotard with my massive, bulky pads visible.

It took me almost 6 months to figure our how to insert a tampon.  I realized that you use it more horizontally than straight up like I had imagined.  I felt so relieved to figure that out… but by then I had quit ballet and missed out on a summer of swimming when I had my period.

As scary as it sounded at the time, I wished I had asked my mum about tampons.  It’s much better to go through an awkward 5 minute conversation than dread your period for the next six months!  I gave up something I loved and feel alone because I lacked the courage to ask a question.

If you’re a teen, talk to your mother.  They can answer questions better than any corporate pamphlet.  I promise it won’t be as embarrassing as you think it will be!

Blossom Gets Her First Period

Blossom Logo

Blossom Logo courtesy of Wikipedia and NBC.

In the show Blossom, the main character has to deal with the embarrassment brought on by buying tampons. To her horror a boy from school happens to be the cashier. Luckily her best friend, Six, brings some over after she fails to buy any.

Blossom wished she had a mother she could ask questions to about her period.  (Her mother didn’t live at home.)  This episode highlights not only how important it is for young girls to have someone who they can talk to about the transitions in their life, but also how that may not always be their mother. The definition of “mother”  for everyone is completely different.

It was heart warming for me that Six offered her own mother for Blossom to talk to… and how Six was there a friend.  This episode highlights why we need a circle of woman to share our knowledge.  Every woman has had a different experience and is uniquely suited to help someone else.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of women in my world, but there may be in someone else’s world… so share your knowledge.  It never hurts to start a dialog.

Is brown period blood normal? Yes!

Brown Rust

When I first got my period, my blood was brown for the first month, which really confused me.

I was way too embarrassed to ask if it was normal. It took all the courage I had to announce to my mother that I had my period.  I couldn’t imagine summoning the bravery to ask her if my period was considered normal.

Luckily for me, I had my answer next month, when my period changed to a normal red colour. But I was still left with plenty of other questions like how to insert tampons.

I had been given a pamphlet about periods, but that didn’t cut it for me.  I wanted to know a lot of things the pamphlet didn’t cover.  What I really needed was the guts to talk to my mother. But because I believed that periods were something to be embarrassed about, I suffered in silence.

My dream is that girls will have the courage to talk to their mothers (or other women they trust) about periods.  Periods are a natural part of life and there’s no reason to be scared of them…. but they’re so different than everything else you experienced as a kid that a few comforting conversations can make all the difference.

Cosby Show: Rudy’s First Period Helps Girls With Theirs

Cosby Show

Courtesy of the Cosby Show

I remember the first time Rudy got her period on the Cosby Show. I had always wanted to be a member of that family — well who didn’t? There was always so much laughter and love floating around. I was very interested to see how they would deal with their daughter’s first period. Would it be in a way that I would have enjoyed?

Mrs. Huxtable declared that she wanted Rudy’s experience to be better than hers.  She didn’t want Rudy believing all the rubbish her friends would have told her, such as sharks would follow you to the shore if you swam in the ocean.   So Mrs. Huxtable decided to have a woman’s day for her daughters: a special day where they could choose to do whatever they wanted. Vanessa went out for dinner in the city, but Rudy was embarrassed and was not interested in celebrating.

As an adult looking back, I can understand both points of views. As a mother and someone who has years of periods under her belt, I know periods are nothing to be embarrassed by.  They are something to be celebrated (and something that allowed me to have a beautiful son).  But I also vividly remember when I was eleven and scared.  It was so tough to talk to anyone about “woman stuff” — even though I had so many questions.

I am grateful that the script writers weren’t scared to have an open dialogue about periods in a time when it was never mentioned on television.  It was refreshing that they focused on a real mother-daughter relationship instead of making easy cramp/headache jokes.  Thanks!

The more we talk about periods, the more they are included in our culture in a positive way — that means girls hopefully won’t be so scared and alone when they have their first period.  That was the goal of my book, On The Day I Got My Period, and I’m also glad that was the goal of the Cosby’s.

How to make your daughter’s first period special

Fancy dinner
For too many girls, their first period comes and goes very unceremoniously.  They often feel alone, scared, and not really sure what is happening.  Here are some ideas to help treat your daughter’s first period with the ceremony it deserves.

Go out to a fancy meal:  Have your daughter dress in her fanciest gown and have a mother-daughter meal out at a nicer restaurant.  She may feel bloated and gross, so show her that periods can be elegant and beautiful.

Buy your daughter flowers:  Having your first period can be frightening.  If she’s too embarrassed to leave the house with you or doesn’t want her brothers to find out, buy her some flowers and discretely leave them in her bedroom.

Write your daughter a letter:  Getting your first period traditionally means that you are “now a woman”.  So write your daughter a heart-felt letter about what being a woman has meant to you.  Pass on wisdom, funny stories and show her she is supported.

Tell her about your first period:  Get the book “On The Day I Got  My Period”, which is filled with stories from around the world about women’s first periods.  At the end of the book, be sure to write what your first period was like.  She can read the book in the privacy of her bedroom and hopefully it will give her the courage to ask any questions she may have.

Buy her jewelry: Pick out a piece of jewelry that says “growing up” to you.  Wrap it up nicely and explain why you got her the present and what the present means to you.

Plan a spa day:  Treat your daughter to an evening of relaxing.  Take her to a massage, hot tub, mud bath, or even turn your bathroom into a spa.  Decorate it with tea candles, buy some bubble bath.  Turn down the lights and let her soak in the tub.  Maybe even take the rest of the family out so she can have some quiet time.

Go see a comedy: Sometimes laughter is the best thing to take your mind off of all the emotions of your her first period. Take her out to play or movie that will have you both rolling in the isles. (And don’t forget to treat yourselves to popcorn… it’s a big day!)

Remember every girl is different:  Your daughter is different than every other woman (and all of your other children), so tailor the day to her personality.  If she’s easily embarrassed, avoid anything that will alert the rest of the family.

Thousands of days spent with my period but only an hour of education

Group of Women

Here’s a mathematics problem for you:

From my eleventh birthday when I got my period until my thirty-second birthday when I got pregnant, I have gotten my period every month.  So how many days have I had my period so far?

5 day long periods x  21 years x 12 months = 1260 days.

Seeing as that was so much fun,  let’s do some more:

How many hours was I educated about periods?

There was one hour of health class when I was ten where I shown how a tampon expands in water….

And the 5-minute chat my mother gave me, explaining where she keeps the tampons.

Then there was half an hour spent listening to my girlfriends talk about cramps or headaches that were caused by their periods.

So to summarize, for the last 1260 days I experienced my period, I had roughly an hour and a half of discussion. But more shocking is that I have spent zero days, zero hours and zero minutes having meaningful conversation about my period or support.

So the real question is: does it matter? Aren’t periods just tampons, headaches and cramps.  Can’t they be cured with a hot water bottle and that magical cocoa bean. Do we really need to talk about periods? Yes!

I believe society’s lack of discussion about menstruation is actually a troubling epidemic of silence surrounding womanhood in general.

This was something I was unaware of until a year ago, when I had tea with an older English friend of mine.  She had just started menopause and divulged to me that, menopause is a very lonely time because nobody talk about it.  (It’s too much of a “taboo topic”).

Her comment made me realize we don’t talk about womanhood at all, which starts way back with our first period.

We are taught that womanhood and periods are something to be embarrassed about. Because of this, any question we really need answered (in order for us not to feel alone or frightened) gets left unanswered.  It seems scarier to face a pack of woman eating tigers than talking to other woman about periods.

I was so scared my ten year old niece would be telling her friends at menopause how lonely she’s felt that I sent a request to my friends from around the world asking them to share the story of their first periods.  My hope was my niece could see that there is a whole world of woman wisdom and support she can access so that she doesn’t have to go through womanhood alone.

Women are the best place for support given we have all been through it.  What I learnt was that whether you’re in Taiwan, Ireland or New Zealand, we all need to start sharing.

On The Day I Got My Period” is about sharing and starting conversations, which is why I left the last chapter of the book blank for mothers to share the story of their first periods with their daughters.

So check out the stories, but more importantly, start sharing yours.