I remember the first time I read about becoming a woman, it was in the 4th grade. My mom and I had talked about most things sort of but it was all foggy and I liked to take a wait and see approach to things anyway.
I loved reading and I had read all of the Judy Blume books, “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing” and Fudge and “Super Fudge” and of course, the little girl’s rite of passage, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.”
I don’t remember much of the book except that I had read it and it talked about how things were starting to grow and also I remember chanting right along with them, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!”
Of course Margaret was also eagerly awaiting all those extras that catapult a girl into womanhood besides training bras and leg-shaving and that was her elusive period. Or rather, how I still like to call it even now at 36, “my friend.” Because I’m still too immature to say “period.”
So I got “my friend” in the 5th grade. Shortly after I had read the book, actually.
I was 10.
I remember that I was the first of all my friends at the time to get “my friend” but I didn’t have all that many friends anyway because I had just moved to Long Island a few months earlier and we were actually about to move away again, this time to Florida.
I remember that I was in class and things didn’t feel right and I looked down and saw something on the wooden desk chair, you know, the kind of chair that was attached to the desk that opens up so you could put your books in it? And so I wrapped my sweatshirt around my waist (of course I was wearing WHITE pants, come to think of it I don’t know why, it was way after Labor day) and I asked to go to the nurse.
The nurse asked me if I knew how to use a “belt” and I looked at her with crickets.
What the hell is a belt?
Apparently when I was in 5th grade, people still used belts to fasten on the maxi pads.
I still have never seen this belt they speak of.
Fortunately for me they had come out with the stick-ons.
Anyways, the nurse at my school called my mom and she came and got me and brought me home and all the neighbors somehow found out (probably in the same way word spreads about “The Caaaaansuh” with all the whispering and such) and one by one they came over to congratulate me.
“Ohhhh she got huh peeeer-iod, such a little lay-day! How wonnn-duhful!” Everyone was “awl” excited.
I was embarrassed.
And from then on I had to go through the embarrassment each month of taking my “purse” to the bathroom, something which for some reason all the nosey-body boys caught on to and as I’d excuse myself to go to the restroom, the nosey-bodies would yell (it probably wasn’t yelling, it just felt like yelling), “Why are you taking your PURSE to the bathroom?!”
I would just quietly ignore them and retreat. This happened for the rest of 5th grade and all of 6th until we got to 7th grade when the boys could care less and carrying a purse to school was normal.
It feels like forever ago and probably because it was.
As I tell you this story, my last and final “friend” has come for its last and final visit (you’re all welcome and guys honestly if you’re still reading I am secretly wondering, “Why?!” Just kidding.)
“My friend” came to me in the 5th grade as a symbol of my womanhood, possibly the only symbol of womanhood that I had until I started growing a chest in the 7th grade, which felt like it took forever and even still it hasn’t fully come in. I’m still waiting on that one.
I’m not sure when I even got my first bra come to think of it, but I remember when I got my first “friend.”
Not that I ever really liked it, as I type this up with cramps.
But it was a turning point in my life and with its imminent absence it’s a reminder that I’m about to go through another. I have very mixed feelings on that as I get ready to put away the package for the very last time in a couple of days. For so long and even in the dictionaries, we equate womanhood with the ability to have and bear children. Even for plants, the term “female” is used to denote its reproductive ability, with eggs that can be fertilized. However, this simply cannot define womanhood, because I’m still going to be a woman without all that.
I am going to need to remember that in the coming days. I already know it’s not going to be easy being that I’m mourning my last period.
So as I say goodbye, perhaps I’ll take Margaret’s lead on this one.
Are you there, God? It’s me Christie. First, I want to thank you for my sense of humor. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get through this. Also I know you have one because you invented stirrup pants and that was hilarious! (Good one.) I’m saying a prayer now that everyone’s reading so if you could help me write it correctly, I would sure appreciate it. God, I am scared. In a week and a half I’ll have a hysterectomy. I’ve never been through major surgery but also, I’ve never been without my uterus. And that scares me a lot. It feels like a major part. (I wonder how much it weighs, will I lose weight? Just kidding. Sort of. I’ll stop joking, I’m trying to be serious.) Anyway, God, I have this fear that I’ll be less of a woman without it. That my femininity will be somehow compromised and that I’ll feel empty. I don’t like being scared and I don’t like feeling like something’s missing. I know that I’m going to need some help remembering that these parts don’t define me as a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister, niece, and granddaughter. That I nurture, listen, care, and have a big soft heart, a strong will, and arms made just for snuggling my boys. Without my uterus, I will still have all those things. I will still love lipgloss and high heels, so it also doesn’t make me less feminine. I know this deep down, but please, God, help me to remember this when I forget it and feel empty. Help me to remember losing this part means losing The Cansuh, and really, that’s what this is about. So thank you for listening. Have a nice day.
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