I got my first bra when I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade. My mother and I bought it in the children’s section of a now defunct department store called Castner Knott. It was white, no underwire, very basic and was a 36AA. At first, I thought it was cool but then I started getting teased about my chest size – by both boys and girls. I now realize the girls were jealous that I was developing so fast and the boys well you know they never lose their fascination for breasts. It wasn’t long after the bra purchase that I heard the term “the curse”. The phrase, the curse, was generally said in hushed tones and whispered to my mother. Has she gotten the curse yet? Alternately, I also heard has she gotten the gift yet? And, has she become a woman? I had no idea what was going on. A curse sounded horrible. A gift sounded pretty awesome. Becoming a woman? Are you kidding me, I mean I’m female and pretty self-sufficient but I can’t get a job yet.
Then it happened. One hot and sweaty day after gym class in 7th grade I started to change out of my gym clothes in the locker room and noticed a red stain. Even though my mom had never really told me a damn thing about getting a period I knew exactly what was going on. I packed my underwear full of toilet paper and hoped it would be enough until school was over. It was the first thing I told my mom when she picked me up. Of course, we had to go to Walmart to get pads and sometime during that trip she muttered the phrase “the curse”. I was like so this is what all those women meant by has she gotten the curse. It all made sense now. But, a curse, was it really that bad?
If I could have had a crystal ball I would know for sure that “the curse” was a pretty accurate description. My girl parts have pretty much given me nothing but trouble since that hot day in late spring when I was 12. Now, 33 years later, they are no longer going to cause me trouble. As you are reading this, I’m still in the hospital for a hysterectomy. I am ecstatic. Good riddance. The factory has been closed for years and now my parts want to give me cancer. Well, fuck that. The medical waste incinerator is your new home uterus. Enjoy that. I know some women have a really hard time after a hysterectomy or “the change”. I have heard of women feeling like they aren’t really women anymore because they can’t reproduce or that they are less than because they no longer menstruate. I could be 1000% wrong but I don’t think I’m going to be one of those women. In my not so humble opinion, having horrible periods and constant trouble with your parts is by far the worst part of being female. I am so excited about this surgery that I bragged the other day to a friend that I didn’t have to buy pads or tampons for myself ever again and since my daughter hasn’t gotten her period maybe I’m in the clear for a while. Then the Universe pointed and laughed.
Guess who got their period? That’s right, my 13 year old daughter. I barely had anything at home she could use because I had been actively using up all of my stuff and not buying anything new. See what a catty bitch the universe can be? We have talked a little bit about it. I have not used the phrase “the curse” or “the gift” or “becoming a woman”. I’ve just called it what it is. I hope she doesn’t have the same issues I did. If she does, I might call it the curse but mainly I don’t want to freak her out or fill her head with preconceived notions. I’ve parented her this way her whole life. I’ve tried not to give her my perspective until she asks or she at least has a solid feeling of what something is like from her own perspective. I feel like my perspective is a little jaded and super weird because of my upbringing. It’s best not to hand her that big bag of crazy to go along with her own major life event. And, thank God we don’t all have to trudge off the Red Tent anymore.
So, Universe, I see you there. I see the irony of this whole situation. One reproductive life ending when another begins. Don’t worry, I totally hear “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King blaring in my internal monolog. I get it. I may not be able to make babies anymore but I have a daughter that still needs Mom. And, I’m going to help her navigate this stage in life the best I can. I’m just glad I won’t be having PMS together and our cycles won’t sync up.