Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celebrating "The Curse"

For many woman, their period is considered "the curse". Although I wouldn't say it is always an enjoyable event, I can never think of it as a "curse". Women have amazing bodies that have the potential to create and nourish life and this is just part of the beautiful process. I have always tried to share my period as a celebration of my body's potential rather than a monthly annoyance when discussing it with my daughter.

Several years ago, a friend gave us an article from Mothering magazine about having a Red Party. When an 11 year old started her period, she chose to celebrate it with girlfriends and their mothers. Together, mother and daughter created a beautiful ceremony of gifts, poems and special individual wishes. Although the way this family chose to celebrate this coming of age was a little elaborate for what my daughter would ever feel comfortable with, I love that they made it work for them and initiated this young girl into womanhood in a positive way.

Although most Americans don't tend to celebrate a girl's first period, I love reading about how other cultures celebrate the coming of age as a special event rather than a "curse". Check out this site and scroll down to the bottom. My favorite is the story from the tribe of Ulithi. When a girl starts her period she goes to the menstrual house where she is joined by other women who bathe her and recite magic spells. Wouldn't it be nice if we allowed ourselves that quiet time once a month?

I have something special planned for my daughter that I think will fit her personality and will allow us time alone to bond as women. I don't want things to happen any sooner than they should, but at the same time I am excited to share in her womanhood as it develops. I want it to be a positive experience for her.

The article about the Red Party sparked an interest for Alexander in how boys celebrate their entry into adulthood which I share in this post about Zandyman 2008. When Alexander felt he was ready, he and my husband Steve planned out an initiation into adulthood that was just right for Alexander.
For any women out there wanting something different than the regular disposable pad, you might want to check out these cloth menstrual sites. At first sight it seems like a weird concept, but after using them for a while, they are wonderful. They are a great way to honor both your body and the environment.
Many Moons - cloth pads
New Moon Pads - Ideas for soaking pad pots, pads, and much more.
Diaper Sewing - patterns to make cloth pads at home.


  1. What a great idea! I love it - The Red Party. I agree completely, we need to teach girls that a menstrual cycle is a natural part of life and we should embrace it as part of of being a woman, instead of portraying it as "dirty" and just a "horrible" part of life. I use cloth pads, and I look forward to buying my daughter a set someday.

  2. I have something else to add :)

    This is another way to empower girls, which is desperately needed. A menstrual cycle is often portrayed as something to hide and be ashamed of. I think boys should also be taught about this (after all, they have mother's, if not sister's) in a positive way. I've never felt "weird" or "ashamed" to talk about it with my husband, and he's always been there for me when I needed him. We need more men like that too!

  3. Heather,
    I totally agree. Both my husband and son are pretty comfortable with this topic. I think whenever you practice attachment parenting, it is almost impossible that everyone doesn't know a little about everything. :)

  4. I don't use cloth pads, but about 7 months ago, I started using a menstrual cup. OMG! I wish I had known about them 30 years ago!

    They are amazing. No leakage and no odor. My cramps are less severe than with tampons, which I'd used since my first period.

    They cost anywhere between $18 and $35, depending on brand and location. Two might be nice, but one is really all you need. They are safe for your body, good for the environment, and after just a few months, good for the budget, too.

  5. Hi Annie,
    I have heard of others that are happy with the cup also. Isn't it cool when we find new things? I want to check these out sometime too: http://www.gladrags.com/jade-pearl-menstrual-sponges-p-62.html. It is a sea sponge used as a tampon. So many wonderful choices out there.

  6. I'm not quite as philosophical about my period as you are. It hurts and I hate it :)
    My sister is a midwife and it seems that quite a lot of her colleagues have done similar things with their daughters. I know she's planning on it.

  7. When I was growing up in the early 60's, my mother told me about my period like this:

    Mom: "You know that blue box in the bathroom?"

    Me: "yes."

    Mom: "You'll need to use those soon."

    end of discussion.

    I had a talk with each of my children, including my son, about periods, what they were, why women have them, etc. when they were around 10 years old. It wasn't exactly a red party, but it was better than what I got.

    Oh, and I had a complete hysterectomy when I was 42, best thing that ever happened for me. I had endometriosis, with horrible cramps.

    I also had worse cramps when using tampons, so I stopped using them when I was in my 30's.

  8. I just read that Red Party story, and it was just amazing what they did. I hope you and your daughter do that!