If I could pick two certainties to give to my daughters, I would choose: a) self-confidence, and b) genuine friendships. Last week, my eldest daughter got her period and by the end of the night, I felt reassured that she would have both of these in her life.
The bleeding started at school and my girl was calm and cool about it. In fact, I think she was a bit excited…
We were just pulling out of the school parking lot when she announced her news.
“I got my period today,” she said— loudly enough for her two younger sisters in the backseat to hear.
They quietly listened on, with frozen half-smiles.
“Ok!” I said, mimicking her breezy tone. “Did you have a pad? “
“Yes, I had some in my bag,” she replied.
“Ok. That’s great,” I said. “Do you have cramps? You feelin’ ok?”
“Yeah! I’m good.” She snapped a quick selfie.
“Should we have a Period party? Invite some friends, maybe some neighbours?” I offered, jokingly of course.
“NO!” she shouted, though still in good spirits— not dying from embarrassment like she might have done on another day.
“What about a Period Cake?” I asked. “Should we order one? A red velvet cake, perhaps?” I was still kidding around and she knew it. But, for some reason, I got the impression she wasn’t totally against the idea.
“No, Mom,” she said, without even rolling her eyes.
“Alright. How about some Period Donuts to celebrate?” I took a sharp right, into the Tim’s parking lot, pulled up at the drive thru, and ordered us each a special XO Valentine’s Day donut.
When we arrived home, my husband was making dinner. I set the table and my newly menstruating daughter took a rare, unsolicited shower. She came downstairs, hair wrapped in a towel, all “period-ready” in her baggy sweatpants.
“Do we have any chocolate?” She was really embracing this new stage in her life.
“Just the donuts,” I gave her a quick caress on the back of her neck.
“Can you help teach me how to use a tampon later, Mom? I have a gym comp this weekend so I can’t wear a pad.”
“Sure,” I responded, wondering how that would go.
After dinner, we ‘toasted’ our donuts to her period (cheers!) and my daughter went upstairs to FaceTime with a few of her friends. She shared her news with them. It seems she was one of the last girls to get her period, which explains why she seemed so happy about it. My girl was no longer left out of the not-at-all exclusive ‘Period Club.’ Of course, at the age of thirteen, being just like everyone else is of the utmost importance.
Later, during our “tampon lesson,” she told me she’d asked her friends, during their FaceTime calls, about tampons and how to use them. Her pal from school told her she personally hadn’t been successful with tampons. She just couldn’t get them to go in. Another friend, from gym, told her to try using a mirror so she can see what’s going on down there.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear about these chats; it brought genuine joy to my heart. These girls and their comfort with each other reminded me of my friends and our candid conversations over the years. My own friendships have helped me understand that women benefit in a powerful, almost therapeutic, way when we lean on and support one another. Would my daughter get to have such beautiful friendships in her own life?
In that moment, sitting on the edge of the bathtub in the little upstairs bathroom, I felt a strong sense that she would.
My girl had put herself out there and her friends had her back. This is the gist of friendship, after all. Simply being there is how it all begins.
Cue Bette Midler’s ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’…