I Talk To My Sons About My Periods: The Bloody Kind, Not the Grammar Kind
I’m super over the whole patriarchy shaming women for bleeding every month. Like, super over it. Most of my menstruating life, I was uncomfortable talking about it. I got my period for the first time in 8th grade and until the last few years, I wasn’t confident in this part of my bodily process. I’ll be 35 this year. So, do that math. Yeah…
I can summon the blood from my uterus to my cheeks when recalling the days I’d buy extra stuff when I needed to do a tampon run. A quiet mantra repeating in my head: don’t notice don’t notice PLEASE don’t notice that I’m bleeding between my legs. I cringe thinking at all that money wasted on extra items just to try and camouflage a real life necessity! I felt as if I were harboring some dark secret that should be kept private. And I largely blame that on society. I was never shamed at home, but I felt it all around me once I left the safety of my home. As we humans move to a more progressive mindset and this current wave of feminism fights for the equality we deserve, I’ve become pretty open and these days I talk about it whenever I damn well feel like it.
And that includes talking to my five and eight year old sons.
I’m the only female in my home. I’ve been blessed with two sons with no foreseeable plans to ever skip a period again. My boys see tampons and pads stored in our bathrooms and when they’ve asked what the heck these are, I’ve told them they’re for my period. Which leads to, “Oh okay……what’s a period?”
So I’ve told them. Blood and all. If you’re in my home when my period decides to strike you’ll regularly hear things like:
“Well, a period is the reason you’re here. Women get this every month and its a part of being able to have a baby. And we bleed for about 3–7 days from our vaginas. Pads and tampons help with that.”
“Like a bandaid?”
“That’s fair, kind of like a bandaid of sorts, sure.”
“That sounds really awful mom. Like, wow mom, that doesn’t sound fun at all.”
“Mommy started her period today and I’m in a lot of pain. I really need to sit down for a couple minutes.”
“I have my period. So yeah, I’m a little crabby today because I’m literally bleeding as we’re discussing this and it hurts. Just do your chores and don’t argue.”
I refuse to raise two boys who turn into the kind of men that won’t pick up mensuration supplies for someone in their lives. Not happening on my watch, nope. I know I couldn’t live with myself if I sent my sons out into the world as grown men who think periods are gross. It’s my job as the only female in my home to educate them and make sure they’re dope ass dudes who don’t cringe when a lady talks about the very real horror of cramps and monthly bleeding.
Why aren’t there more discussions about how to raise period-considerate sons? They’re surely going to encounter women besides their moms or sisters when they leave our homes. Actually, even before they’re out on their own! As they go through puberty and high school, they’re going to encounter friends or partners that bleed regularly. They need to be understanding, kind, and thoughtful as they navigate that. And where does that begin? At home. They learn those responses from the people in their home. If it’s never discussed, then these boys are being sent into a world where periods seem mysterious and perhaps icky and something very taboo.
I didn’t list all the things I’ve said, because I could go on and on, that’s how much I talk about it, but I’m honest with them. I think they deserve that and frankly, so do I. My eight year old has become rather thoughtful. If I don’t feel well or I say something hurts, at any point ever, he will turn to me gently and softly say, “maybe its because of your period?” Or sometimes he says something along the lines of, “do you need any medicine or something? Can you take medicine for periods?” Even if he isn’t sure if its period time or not. But he considers it and he opens a dialogue to better understand what I’m dealing with. He tries to problem solve so that I will feel better. He is caring and his questions come from a place of love and desire to understand what’s happening to a woman he loves so much.
And really, that’s all we’re asking for. For men to be considerate when it comes to this monthly ride we take. I think we could train grown ass men to change their mindset on this, I truly do, but frankly, grown ass men aren’t my job right now. Tiny male humans that still have years ahead to form their opinions are my job. My husband, a grown ass man, has no period stigma, he’s chill AF about mine, so no reprogramming needed there. Our job now, is to make sure five and eight continue on the path of being period considerate.
I know it’s daunting that change often takes a generation, but facing the mountain of trying to correct those immature grown men makes me want to puke and then take a nap. What I have the capacity to do is start now by planting these seeds, and then watching the flowers bloom as my boys navigate their relationships later in life.
So, talk to your sons about your period. Announce it proudly every damn month. MOM IS ON HER PERIOD AND YOU ALL BETTER ACT RIGHT AND LET ME REST ’CAUSE THIS SUCKS! Or if that’s not your jam, feel free to use your inside voice. I suppose the message will still get across. But be proud and honest and treat yo self to sitting down on the couch and resting for like one half second while your uterus feels as if the Knights Templar are battling the Crusades inside of you.
Momma, you deserve that restful moment. And maybe, just maybe, your son will ask if there’s anything he can get you. And one day, he’ll buy a Diva Cup and some snacks for his partner or friend without batting an eye.