Three weeks before the last day of 5th grade in May of 1987, our teachers sequestered all of the girls into one room and all of the boys into another. I am not sure what they told the boys (probably that they were gonna skate through the rest of life without worry or pain) but what they showed the girl was a video about puberty and reproduction. They explained cramps, PMS, moodiness, weight gain, hair growth - I was horrified by the entire process.
At the end of the class they gave us each a box of pads, a razor, a bottle of deodorant, a pink pamphlet about our upcoming changes and a jar of Noxzema. I was mortified. I didn't want either of my parents to know these embarrassing things about my life, let alone all of the boys in my class. I hid the package under my shirt and ran home from school that afternoon. I hid everything in a box beneath my bed.
Puberty represented a loss of a childhood that I could barely hang on to, a loss of innocence that I held dear. I didn't want to become a woman, I hadn't even really been able to master being a girl.
Like clockwork, she came exactly a month after the class. The pamphlet said that she might be a little crazy at first, but I was like a finely oiled machine. Every 28 days, there she was. I had no cramps, no moodiness or weight gain. She lasted about 3-4 days at a time and was on some days light enough for just a pantyliner. Other girls would complain about her, claiming cramps or zits or other such craziness - I never had any of those issues. She would leave as quietly as she came. In all of the craziness of my preteen and teen years, she was the one constant, the one thing that I didn't have to worry about or stress over.
I hid her for several months before my father finally realized what was going on. He announced it from the front porch of our house on a hot summer afternoon. My mother was across the street visiting neighbors when I heard him call out, "Hey, get over here. Your daughter just got her PERIOD." If we had not just filled in the hole that we were digging to China, I would have happily climbed into it and buried myself alive at that point.
For years we had a great relationship, she would come and go every 28 days. She never really impacted me or my life adversely. I decided to go on Depo at 21, not because I needed the birth control but because I thought it might be nice to take a break from her for a change. She was MIA for 6 years. As soon as I stopped, she reappeared, the same trustworthy friend that I had always known.
The one time that I got pregnant before getting married, I was desperate to see her again. I raced to the bathroom throughout the day longing to see the telltale signs. When she finally reappeared, I was saddened by the loss but so relieved that she had returned.
When we got married at 29, our relationship changed. Instead of being a sign of salvation each month she became the symbol of failure, the harbringer of the death of hope each month as we strived to get pregnant, to have a baby that looked like each of us, a living symbol of our love. And on April Fool's Day 2007, imagine my surprise when she took her leave of absence.
When she finally returned 19 months later, she was different. The 28 day visitation schedule was out the door and she would show up whenever she felt like it. Suddenly, for the first time in my life there were cramps, heavy flow, moodiness, acne, PMS, emotional tears and fatigue.
I hate her now. I hate the way that she makes me feel, I hate that she steals all creativity from my body, all gumption to do anything besides sleep.
If it weren't for the fact that eventually we want more babies, I would find someone to take her away for good. I am not sure that I can deal with 20 more years of her.