For as long as I can remember the p-word has been off-limits. From the first time my sisters and I got our periods until now, this topic is more forbidden than uttering V-O-L-D-E-M-O-R-T.
I learned about the menstrual cycle and how my body works from school.
I had an introductory class in the fifth grade and then another in-depth health class in the eighth grade. I find it pretty sad, I had to learn about one of the most important parts of the female body from teachers and classmates versus the people that were closest to me.
My mom never sat me down and had a conversation on this topic, besides how to put a pad on.
Even then that was the only thing she taught my sisters and me. Since I am the oldest daughter in my family, when the time came for my sisters to go through their first experiences, I had to step in and really explain to them what it means to get their period. At face value, for someone that doesn’t understand the significance behind it, it is just when a woman bleeds for a week every month, when in reality this very act has made it possible for all of us to exist. The sheer significance of the menstruation cycle should be enough to make it a more talked about and conversational topic, but we hesitate to talk about it, chalking it up to be a sexual experience.
It’s not. It’s a natural bodily function.
I wish my mom had decided to ignore the societal taanay and taught me what becoming a woman and getting your period meant. In a young girl’s mind who is not exposed to sex education, a period can seem like a dirty and na-paak part of their lives, which can make young girls feeling like they are worth lesser than men because they don’t suffer through the pain as women do.
We allow society to make us believe we are less because one week out of the month, we bleed.
This isn’t true, however, and we need the women in our lives that have experienced this shaming before us to speak up and let us know it is not our fault – or a fault at all. I wish my mom had told me I was no less than my brother and I don’t need to hide my pads in the trash can or secretly buy them at the store in the fear ke log kya kaheinge.
My mom did not teach me that what I was going through was normal. Instead, it felt like a burden.
There were nights I would wish I no longer got my period and would pray for the pain and cramps to go away forever. Now looking back, wishing that is just like wishing to never be able to give birth to a child. Being happily married and planning a future with my husband, children are definitely in the picture, so I am very glad meri duaiein qabool nahi hui.
The most important thing that I gathered from my mother not being honest and real with me is I am not going to raise my children like this.
My children will have to suffer through the “talk”, my sons will be allowed to bring my daughters feminine products when they run out, I will ask them how they are doing and if there is something more I can do. I want to be there for them through thick and thin, through the blood and tears (pun intended).
Did your parents have the “talk” with you? Let us know what that was like!
Cover image via panadol.com