Ever since I saw this uterus pillow, I have been thinking about what to tell the girl in my life about menstruation. She’s ten years old. This pillow is exactly something I would give her! It’s handmade, using strong colors of the kind I like, and about a subject most people don’t want to talk about. [I like to annoy her!] Also, it’s pretty.
I’ve had it since the summer, and I still haven’t given it to her — because I want to say something with it.
But – what?
I have no idea what she knows or thinks or feels about her body in general, or about menstruation in particular.
Where do I start?
[translate that to several months of procrastination]
Telling myself that it was research and preparation for a good talk, I started asking people what they think I should say to a ten-year old girl in my life. Most asked me if it wasn’t too early to start this topic? I mean if she isn’t menstruating yet…
why bring it up?
Her school will know when to start the conversation. Or maybe leave it up to her, to whenever she asks you…
She’ll ask her mother then probably. Or maybe her mother has already started this conversation….
Wait! None of that matters —
I am totally ducking. I am afraid to get it wrong.
How will she know that conversations are not tests, or competitions, if I keep acting like there’s a right way to do this— like I need training, expertise or approval to talk to the girl in my life about something that I have experienced myself for several of her lifetimes?
I want her to know that it’s ok to not-know EVERYTHING about your body and what comes next, and that it’s ok to ask questions from a place of not-knowing.
Right. Decision made. I will not become an expert before talking with her.
I’ll make this about her and about me.
Here’s what I’ll do:
I’ll ask her what she’s heard so far:
- What do you know about menstruation?
- What did your mother tell you?
- Female relatives?
- Your father?
I’ll check in with her:
- What does it feel like? – What people told you —
- Is it: scary, embarrassing, no big deal, exciting…
I’ll tell her why I brought this up:
The menstrual cycle is not just about bleeding and whether you can get pregnant today — though, those two situations are reason enough to learn as much as you can about your cycle. You want to be prepared for, and satisfied with, both experiences.
The menstrual cycle is one of your body’s vital signs.
Its hormones and processes affect and interact with how you feel, how your bones grow, how your skin looks, your body temperature… From the inside out, of your body-your home, your cycle determines your quality of life in many ways.
Most of us know little about how our bodies work. And, unless we feel pain, have difficulty doing something we want to do, or are incapacitated, we don’t necessarily need to know any more than the little we know.
But — and this is why I bring it up — the more you do know about how it works, the more power you have over the quality of your body-life, which in turn feeds your mental-spiritual-emotional life. And back around again.
I bring up the menstrual cycle because its integral to the workings of a woman’s body and while there are ranges of normal — day to day, it’s a unique experience for each of us.
I want her to be aware of that, and to begin paying attention to her body because it’s her body. Not just when it raised an issue that needs a response, like what to do about the blood.
I’ll end with:
Many of us were raised not to think about, or talk about, or bodies, to keep it clean down there and move on. It was as if your body was this separate thing you control. That is not what I want for you.
I want you to actively take care of yourself, to pursue information, the help and know-how of others whenever you need it, and to evaluate for yourself how “true” or relevant what they have to say is for you. And, I think that if I start this conversation with you now, rather than once it happens, the seed will be planted in terms of your body-life, not just within the scope of bleeding and pregnancy, neither of which mean much to you before you’re crossing that threshold.
It’s your body.
You will know it better than anyone just by paying attention to your experience.
Is there anything you want to ask or tell me?
…Fine. I think I am ready now. I’ve stopped wondering how it will go. I’ve let go (somewhat) of wanting to get this right.
What I want for her, for every girl is:
- that she have confidence in herself, her ideas, questions, preferences, fears and desires
- that she appreciate and value her own experience as her primary source of information
- that she hold a sense of sovereignty over her body and life
because then she’ll be poised to create — discover — advocate for her life’s happiness and fulfillment.
is a full-body experience,
whether you want to talk about it or not.