Today, I'm grateful for an excuse to remove the cover from my sewing machine.
The daughter of one of the women in our community is celebrating menarche - her very first bleed.
Menarche is something most mothers know is coming. They can feel it, sense it in their daughters (not least by the mood swings :o). This has been a much anticipated and longed for occasion for them both. In celebration, our friend is arranging a gathering to mark and honour her daughter's transition into womanhood. And we have been asked to gift a cloth pad.
I'm so overwhelmed and excited by this occasion.
I love ritual! I believe more ritual in our western society would help immensely with the confusion and out of placeness most teenagers (and their parents) feel. Ritual marks the transition from child to adult. Nothing as serious as some cultures prescribe, but some kind of occasion where a child is no longer considered a child. They are adults, they are treated as adults and they are expected to behave as adults. A person will always know their place in the community. Their expectations. I know some adults that still behave as children. Perhaps no one told them their time had come. And they can't be blamed for that. When do you become an adult? 18? 21? The laws that define adult privilege at a certain age vary from country to country and indeed, between activities! Consenting intercourse, defending your country at war, marriage, alcohol consumption, driving a vehicle - all different ages depending on the laws of the country you live in. Odd really. No wonder there is confusion.
When it comes to women and menarche, it seems to be approaching in our wee women earlier and earlier. Some as young as nine or 10 are getting their first bleed. I was 13 and I think my mother's generation were around 15-16, with 18 not unusual. So while I would like to say that menarche will mark the transition in my daughter from child to adult, and from this occasion I will start treating her differently - if her bleed arrives at 10, she's still very much a child in my eyes - emotionally for certain, if not physically. So, it's a tricky one.
I have a few things planned for her, to celebrate her menarche - her ears pierced for one. She knows this already and tells me she's looking forward to it and can she just have clip-ons for now *smile*. I want her bleed to be something that she can be excited about. Something for her to be proud of. That she is becoming a woman and no longer a child. I will teach her about menstrual wisdom and the power that grows in a woman with every bleed she experiences. I will set up the philosophy of menstruation as a positive, powerful experience for her. Not one of inconvenience, embarrassment or shame.
So, to be invited to share in this occasion with a brand new wee woman, makes me feel very honoured.
Think she'll like?