After a two year long absence, Mother Nature decided to pay me a visit last week and I was really happy to see her.
Yeah I know periods can be a lot of faff! And yeah I can remember the cramping (God, do I remembering the cramping) and the mood swings and the greasy, spotty face and massive implications for eating one slightly unhealthy thing and yeah I remember all the sodding about with pads and tampons and choosing the right knickers etc. But over the last two years I’ve come to view my period differently.
I overheard two of my year 11 students talking the other day. These two girls were saying that being a woman is awful because of boobs and periods. It made me quite sad! Boobs and periods are what allowed me to make and grow my daughter. They are two hugely symbolic parts of womanhood and we, as women, are almost encouraged to hate them. Now I could talk all day about boobs and breastfeeding and how I am going to get my goddam nipple out whenever I please, but this is about periods not boobs.
Periods actually get far worse treatment than boobs. Unless among close friends, periods should only be referred to either in jest or as “womanly problems” to explain foul mood, why you had a day off or why you don’t want to go out that night. Periods should never be discussed in front of men. (Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of men out there who don’t mind, but I’m generalising for dramatic effect!) With close friends you can let your hair down a bit. They’ll lone you a tampon or sort you out with some paracetamol and a cuppa. But it’s tough!
Recently I saw an article about a company that is introducing a menstrual policy, which allows women to have a couple of days off a year for period related problems. Well that’s a step in the right direction. In an ideal world women would be allowed to work around their individual cycles and if you let us I fully suspect that we’d be much happier. Let’s say we could have a day or two off around the time of our period. We could relax, take a long bath, read a book, get a massage, properly honour our flow. In return, we would then feel renewed and our energy and enthusiasm would blossom around the middle of our cycles. Maybe we would be willing to make up the hours that we lost at the start of our cycle. Who knows! It’d be nice to find out though, right? I’ve met a woman who is self employed and she schedules her work around her cycle. She knows when in her cycle it is a good time to have meetings and when it is right to clear her diary. I’m jealous! Truly jealous!
For me, the return of my period comes with a deeper respect of my cycle. I’ve made a little promise to myself to listen to my body and go with it. I’m not going to hide away if there’s something going on when my period shows up but I am going to try and give myself time for a bath and a hot drink. On the flip side, if I am buzzing with creativity and energy I’m going to try and put it to some use. Make something for Emily or decorate the house.
Furthermore I hope that I can help my fellow females embrace their period, even if it’s just a small change such as just acknowledging that the arrival of your period means that your body is still doing its thing or creating half hour at the start of your period for some “you” time. Then perhaps one day, I will look at changing society but right now it’s bedtime. Night night!