The thing every girl should know BEFORE she gets her period

So the other day I was having a girls’ day with my daughter Zoey and we were in the restroom together and she saw the tampon machine on the wall and asked me what it was (she sees anything with a coin slot and automatically thinks treats are gonna come out). Because I was totally unprepared, I panicked and failed miserably at explaining to her what a period is.

ME: Uhhh, that’s a tampon. When you get older, you’re gonna start bleeding out of your you-know-what and, ummm, that’s what you use to stop the blood.

ZOEY: Can we go get frozen yogurt?

Thank God as soon as she realized an edible treat wasn’t coming out of the machine, she stopped listening and I didn’t scar her for life. At least this time. Anyways, I wish I had thought about what to say in advance but I was totally caught off guard. This is what I wish I had said:

Dear Zoey,

You are a girl. And do you know what that makes you? Lucky. Incredibly lucky. Because guess what girls grow up to be? Women. And being a woman is one of the most amazing things on this planet.

You know how they always say girls can do anything boys can do? Let me tell you a little secret. You can do everything boys can do, and MORE (shhh, don’t tell your brother). Because one day you’ll be a woman, and women can do something pretty amazing. They can have babies. Like one day you will be able to grow a real live human being inside your body. How amazing is that?!

Sure, you’ll need a little help from a man to get started (we can have that conversation later when you ask me and I hyperventilate into a brown paper bag). But really, YOU are going to be the one who grows the baby. From just a few little cells to a full-fledged human being with eyes and ears and a brain and lungs and a beating heart. It’s science, but it’ll feel like magic.

And soonish, like in the next five or six or seven years (holy crap you’re growing up fast), your body is going to start preparing for it. Yes, it’s early and you won’t actually have a baby for a long time, but your body is going to start getting ready.

Every month you’re going to bleed a little (yup, from your V, as you like to call it). It’s called your period. And you’re going to need something called a tampon or a pad to catch the blood. I know, I know, it might seem a little scary or gross, but try not to think of it like that. Try to remember that it all happens so that one day you can do the most amazing thing on earth. Make a baby.

If you ever have questions about it, or want to know the science about why you bleed, I’m happy to tell you more. You can ask me anything anytime. Or if you’re too embarrassed to ask specific questions, just mutter, “Period, explain,” from the backseat of the car, and I’ll start telling you more about it. And when you’ve had enough, just say “Stop,” and I will immediately stop talking. Like mid senten-

And in a few years, I’ll put some tampons and pads under your sink so they’re there for you whenever you get your period. I hope you’ll come tell me about it so I can help you and congratulate you and swoop you out for a very fancy girls’ women’s dinner (we won’t tell anyone why) and we can celebrate how awesome it is that we are now both women. Amazing, miraculous, fantastic, strong, awesome women.

Love,
Mom

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14 responses to “The thing every girl should know BEFORE she gets her period

  1. My 8 year old and I were talking about this, last week. She knew what a period was and what tampons were, but didn’t know why it happened.

    The thing that scarred her for life wasn’t the bleeding every month, it was that this would happen every month until she was 50 years old. She thought it was only until you decided not to have babies anymore.

    She was horrified. Poor thing. 🙁

  2. I have to explain every month to my toddler what a period is. She always seems to find her way into my bathroom whenever I’m changing my diva cup. Mommy, why are you bleeding down there. You probably need a band-aid.

  3. That’s the best explanation ever! Where were you when I needed you?! My beautiful daughter/woman turns 19 this Sunday. I think she already knows this stuff. Maybe I could tell her this anyway. I wonder if she’ll roll her eyes . . .

  4. I bought my girls the dotgirl first period kit from dotgirlproducts – A pretty little bag, with a book, and samples, and other goodies – I presented it to them when I sat down to talk to them about getting their period – I thought they would hide their kits away in a secret spot, but was thrilled to see it on her bedside stand – Girl power!!

  5. It’s not weird if I print out your letter and sign my name to the bottom for my daughters, right? Cause that’s totally what I’m gonna do. I could see myself panicking and saying the same thing and then wanting to make it right. My girls are at the “laughing at everything b**t related” stage, so I can just imagine how this conversation would go right now. Thank goodness I have a little more time before it happens. Loved this post!
    OFM

  6. That’s a wonderful and beautiful explanation about periods, but I’d just like to add that not every woman can have a baby. I struggled with infertility but I was able to adopt a beautiful little 5 year old boy. There are other ways to become a mother that are not the usual biological way.

  7. My 2 girls are 17&13, and they are not impressed with the whole “giving life” stuff. What they ARE impressed with is that I was completely open and honest, about everything. They’ve known about periods and the whole “facts of life” since they were both small….hard not to when we have locks you can open from the outside, to make sure they could never get locked in a bathroom 😳…. so they’ve known about periods for a long time, what it is, if it hurts etc etc and I explained everything such as how it is perfectly normal to start your periods from the age of 8 😱(That one scared the hell out of me when I found out!) up until you’re 15, and about tampons and pads, what to happen if they started at school, (use toilet paper and tell a teacher,) obviously it was age appropriate, I told them as and when they asked over the years. As time got closer I made sure they had a discreet pad in their school bags just in case. They were 11 or 12 when it happened. There was no celebration dinner as they said “that was dumb it’s just a period mum” I admit I would have liked a little celebration dinner with each one but I’m just the mum, what do I know! All I do is make sure there are supplies in (even though I’m only 43, I’m menopausal so haven’t had a period in 5 years or so possibly due to medication I take) all in all it was just another day. I would feel sorry for The Hubster (menopausal wife 2 hormone filled teenage girls) but so far it’s no big deal (apart from the night sweats…they’re a real joy 😱) but with the girls meh 17 gets pain but as she refuses to take a pill of any kind there’s not much I can do (the hot water bottle on your stomach doesn’t help at all) as for 13 nothing, I have to keep checking her supplies to make sure she stays stocked up (Lord forbid they use the same pads!) I hope you get your celebration dinner though, because I think it IS a big deal but as my girls say “what do I know, I’m just a mum” lol 😂

  8. I had a great chat with my DD (then 8) about this, but it seems I forgot to tell her the monthly part. She thought it was one and done. A few days later she causally mentioned ‘Mom, I cant wait to get my period so its over and done with and I don’t have to think about it any more’ cue another chat about it happening monthly till she’s 50, with only pregnancy off for good behavior (or bad behavior, wink wink)

    It was a couple of days after that, whilst waiting for a pizza in a packed Little Caesars she asked her Dad ‘Do you think I should use a tampon or a pad when I get my period, Dad?’ I love that we have a relationship with our daughter that she feels she can talk openly with either of us about these things but that one definitely got the ‘ask your mom’ treatment

  9. When I was about 8 or 9, I walked in on my mom as she was removing a tampon. For days, I kept looking for that d**n string in my hooha! 😁😁😁

  10. Shameless sponsored ad for tampon company. Just saying!

  11. Your words were beautiful and helped me recognize the things that I would like to share with my own daughter about what a gift it is to be a woman. Thank you for helping me understand how to embrace the period conversation with class and grace, so that she can be proud of her body and the fact that life may grow inside her one day.

  12. I really like the way you approached this. It has such a positive spin. When i explained all this to my daughter, I also bought her a book called “The Care and Keeping of You” that is written by a doctor and produced in conjunction with American Girl (I know, not your fav). That was 2012. They have now made it into two books (two parts). The first is geared towards girls starting at age 8, the second towards girls starting at age 10.

    The first book discusses periods, body hair changes, hormone changes, pimples, etc. The second addresses all those plus peer pressure and some other things. They both talk about other changes like the need to clean your body thoroughly, changes in body odors with hormone changes, needing to wear deodorant, etc.

    It helped my daughter and I to open up conversations about these topics… She was able to read a chapter (or we read it together if she wanted) and then she could ask questions. I didn’t feel like I had to come up with a whole “lecture” about each topic. Plus I knew she getting good, legit info, not some crazy a*s BS at school. You can get them on Amazon for under $10 each.

    It worked so well that my daughter (now 13) didn’t even tell me the first time she got her period until it was like 2 days later and she needed more pads. I had bought her some “tween” ones and put them in her bathroom. I told her they were there for her use when she needed them. Her friends could use them if they ever had a “surprise event” while they were over. We set up a small zippered bag with a few and extra underwear to keep in her backpack too. I guess her friends had used some.

    I digress, apparently, she was totally comfortable with it and it wasn’t a big deal to her… other than she needed another box of pads. Lol. Win for her (and I guess mom too)

  13. Thank you for this, just tonight my almost 7 year old daughter asked about my Lola tampons and the only reason I felt halfway prepared to discuss it with her was because I had recently read this post. Thank you!!!

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