Motherhood (and Mayhem), The Cansuh — April 23, 2012 at 5:31 am

Are You There God? It’s Me, Christie.

by

Disclaimer: My manfriends may want to pass on this one. Mkay?

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.

Aren’t I?

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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18 Comments

  1. Great post!

    Judy Blume got me through a lot of rough times in my youth. Can’t wait to share her books with my daughter.

    Memories of my first period came flooding back while reading your post. Hope my daughter’s first isn’t as traumatic as mine was!

    Thinking of you and sending healing vibes your way! :-)
    Malinda Ann Hill (@MalindaAnnHill) recently posted..Narberth Cystic Fibrosis RunMy Profile

  2. I luffs you. God knows exactly what is in your heart & I trust he is going to take very good care of you. Many prayers & hugs coming through the interwebs & then IRL ones in November.

    Ps, you can have some of my boobs, I’ve been trying to get rid of them since the 7th grade.
    Bari recently posted..Fitness Friday: Bling WhoreMy Profile

  3. my mom is the best woman i know, despite the fact that she hadn’t had a uterus (thanks to a medically necessary hysterectomy) for 2 decades now. i think the secret is that its not really your inside girly bits that make you a woman – its that super awesome mom cape you wear, and that isn’t going anywhere.

    praying for you through this. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at {the cansuh}, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
    brooke recently posted..Re: Mountain Man Memorial March – Race ReportMy Profile

  4. I love that book.

    You are amazing, uterus or no uterus. xo!
    lissa recently posted..the other kids.My Profile

  5. I always liked stirrup pants ;)

    and while you’re taking care of the physical part of your recovery don’t forget to take care of the mental part, it’s just as important!

  6. You are an amazingly strong WOMAN! Sending you hugs and healing thoughts for the body and mind.
    misszippy recently posted..Smelling the rosesMy Profile

  7. I second what Lissa says…you’re amazing, uterus or no uterus!! I made a vow to myself a few years back when I was working in pathology, studying all sorts of cancers: if it ever came down to it, I’d lop ‘em off or cut it out. There’s so much more to you that makes you a woman and feminine…and it’s what all of us – those that don’t know personally – even see.
    Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run recently posted..Monday Runspiration – 14 Weeks OutMy Profile

  8. You just brought me to tears Christie O. You are 100% woman, through and through, uterus or no uterus. Love you girl.
    Lisa/MommyMo recently posted..I’m Still 39…..For NowMy Profile

  9. Since you told the dudes that they may want to pass, I felt the need to read on. Since I can’t really comment on “your friend,” I do feel the need to say that Tales of the 4th grade nothing and SupeFudge were my favorite books. That’s all I got. Well, that and well wishes, of course.
    PavementRunner recently posted..An Easy 10 with… Courtney and LucasMy Profile

  10. Your beautiful heart and mind will remain the same, and although I shed tears for the stress and worry you’re currently going through, I know that Christie now and Christie after the surgery are the same in the only ways that matter.

    Love you, friend! xoxo
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell recently posted..Back to the Regular With A Splash of OuchMy Profile

  11. i started with the friend crap in 5th grade too. in march. worst freaking day ever.

    i’ll gladly give you half my boobs. will they let you take half my uterus? i’d share if they’d let me.

    you will absolutely still be feminine. and woman. and awesome. you’ll just be stronger and more awesome.

    i bet it weighs 4.2 lbs when it comes out. is there a contest to guess the weight?
    Brett recently posted..All Aboard Detectives! Day Out With Thomas: Mystery On the Rails Tour 2012My Profile

  12. I remember that first one as well. And I have no idea what my last one will be like, or if I will ever know when I’m experiencing it that it will be my last….but I know that next time MY friend comes, I will be thinking about YOU, my friend. :)
    Lolli @ Better in Bulk recently posted..The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie #RecipeMy Profile

  13. OMG, how powerful!!!! Just amazingly powerful!!!

    OK, first, yes, at 54, I had to wear that belt for way too long! I got mine in 9th grade so YIKES for you & I called it the monthly… that dreaded monthly.. but as we all see, things are relative & with what you are going thru, having it would be better than losing it if it were not for the cansuh….

    I just wish we could all surround you with a huge hug!!!!!

    PS: stirrup pants – oh yes!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Gratitude Monday, Enjoyment & OC HousewivesMy Profile

  14. I don’t, for some reason, remember the exact day or instance when I got my period for the first time, but I DO remember being horrified when my mom told my uncle via phone that I’d gotten it. Did I mention that he was fighting in Iraq at the time in the first Gulf War? I just remember whining with all my 7th grade angst, “But Mooooom. Now Saddam Hussein and the Defense Department knows, too!”

    And to this day, I still can’t understand what possessed her to share that news from homefront with him.

    And when I need to remember what it means to be a woman, I think of Steel Magnolias. “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”

    Thinking of you.
    Jackie @ MomJovi recently posted..Just One of Those DaysMy Profile

  15. Ahhh, the belt! That was long gone before my time, too. But get this: my grandma had SAVED some of my mom’s old supplies to pass on to me when the “special day” arrived. Imagine that awkward scenario :)

    I know many awesome, womanly women who’ve had hysterectomies – as you’re already awesome and womanly, I can’t see that changing :)
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