I was 11 and I remember that day vividly. I remember how it felt to run around the playground and play tetherball in the heat of the afternoon, how sweaty I was, the way my tummy started to ache, the scratchy brown and yellow tweedy wool skirt I was wearing, and the earthy-rich scent of the rusty dampness I found on my white panties when I got home and went to the restroom. I didn't know exactly what was happening but I had a clue, so I called my mom and showed her what I found. She pursed her lips into sort of a smile, cocked her head to the side, then started to cry, in that way you know someone who holds you precious and dear is so very proud but maybe also a bit sad and nostalgic at the same time. I knew it wasn't anything bad, but definitely something big. She told me I was becoming a woman and that with that came great responsibility. She told me I was capable of having a baby and that we would need to go visit the doctor for a check-up. She also told me that when I was ready to have a boyfriend or start having sex (which hopefully wouldn't be for a long time, when I found someone I *really* cared about) that she hoped I would trust her enough to tell her so she could take me to get some birth control that could keep me from getting pregnant until I wanted to have a baby. She gave me a pad and I remember it feeling like a diaper that got scrunched up in to a triangular wad between my legs as I walked around. I hated it. I had a heavy flow from the beginning, so it leaked everywhere and my underwear got bloody and I was generally uncomfortable and pretty annoyed by the whole inconvenience. A few days later, I asked her if I could try a tampon instead. That whole concept was pretty frightening, but I was determined to find something better than some stupid lumpy woman diaper. How was I going to play softball and steal bases and slide into home plate with that thing on?!?! To her full credit, my awesome mom not only showed me how a tampon worked but, because I was scared and asked her to, she actually got down on the floor in the middle of the bathroom and demonstrated how to do it herself. I remember we laughed hysterically about how weird that was at the time, but it's actually one of my favorite memories of her because that's *exactly* the kind of mom she was. I was lucky!
This story was submitted in response to Menstruation Matters.