What My Mother Taught Me About Periods Was Wrong (But It still Makes Me Smile)
Last updated: August 2022
Five years ago, my mother took her last breath while I held her hand. Ever since her death, I sometimes experience a sudden influx of memories that make me miss her but also remember specific hilarious quirks.
Some of my fondest memories go way back to when I was a little girl managing my early periods.
While I am sure my mother tried her best, her legacy regarding periods has ended up being quite questionable. However, I cannot help smiling every time I remember her words of advice and overtly complicated explanations.
She shaped my experience around periods while providing me with the comic relief I am now thankful for as someone living with endometriosis.
Hearing an explanation of periods as a child
I vividly remember the day my mother explained how periods worked in an attempt to ease any doubts my eleven-year-old brain surely had. Yet, she forgot to mention how they would feel, dropped any mention of blood, and gave me a detailed description of the "tiny eggs" my ovaries would produce monthly.
I once believed that having a period would mean finding a fish-like egg in my underwear. So seeing blood instead was utterly confusing.
My mother's advice on dealing with pain
Soon after my first period, it became painfully clear I had been sold a lie about that precious little egg. When my excruciating heavy periods began, my mother would tell me to run up and down stairs to get rid of my pain.
I remember trying this a couple of times and realizing it was a near-impossible task. Thankfully, I soon discovered the miracle of strong ibuprofen.
She told me all about her dreadful period products.
My mother would always remind me of my privilege regarding period products. When she was little, she had to wash her pads, mostly pieces of cloth, and hang them out to dry. "You are so lucky now!" she would say as I sat with what felt like a mattress between my thighs.
I now see the rise of reusable, washable period underwear and instantly think of her. The cyclic nature of fashion always amused her, so I wonder if she would have felt the same about period products.
When my period problems intensified, she knew something was wrong
I suffered from endometriosis symptoms from an early age. Yet all doctors said was that they were "just bad periods."
My mother would sit next to me when I was bedbound and in horrible pain. "This isn't right," she would say with a troubled look.
I was diagnosed while she was still around, but she never got to see how far I’ve come since those worrying early days. I’ve run a marathon, developed a writing career, traveled extensively, and lived alone in places like New York while living with heavy periods and chronic pain.
I wish I had my mom on the bad days
She wouldn't have to worry about me now.
My mother was named Susan, and she left us too soon.
Somewhat selfishly, I especially miss her during my bad days. When it hurts so much, I end up isolated from the world, and I wish I had a mother rubbing my stomach.
Except, I’m sure if my mother were here, she would tell me to raise my head, keep my chin up, and suggest I run up and down some stairs.
What did your parents tell you about periods? Do you hear their words in your head whenever you are faced with this monthly curse? Let me know in the comments.
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