Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Womanhood is a Marathon

My mouth dropped open when I saw the article teaser.

“Woman runs marathon without tampon to raise awareness.”

Awareness? Of what exactly?

With eyes squinting with disbelief, I clicked the hyperlink and read the article. So the story goes that this woman trained for a year to run a marathon and got her period the night before. She said that she had never run a marathon during that time, and since feminine products are uncomfortable, she dreaded using one. Then she decided to turn the event into a declaration of a social issue.

Here’s where I’m confused: raise awareness. That women get their periods once a month? Oh, dear sister, we know. HOW WELL WE KNOW. How well my husband knows. My children. My former co-workers. As Stacey once told a church packed with people, “Everyone in this room has been affected by PMS. You’re either on the giving end or you’re on the receiving end.”

Admittedly, I was raised through the efforts of three southern ladies. When I got to the age of needing such information, my mother gave me the 411 with no sugar. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s gross. Yes, feminine supplies are uncomfortable. 

And then she gave me the glass-half-empty news that it would definitely come on birthdays, Christmas, beach vacations, and school dance days. Didn’t she speak truth? Who’s reading this blog who has gotten it during all of those moments and more? On happy days, like the first day on the new job; on sad days, like the day you broke up with your boyfriend or the day you had to have your cat put to sleep. 

Or the day you were all signed up to run a marathon.

This publicity-loving girl also says that she wants to raise awareness that women in poor countries don’t have access to feminine products. Does anyone else feel a little insulted? I’m well aware of how fortunate I am that I can run to Walgreen’s to get the items that I need. I’m also fairly certain that if women in those poor countries had products available, they would joyfully use them. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m growing weary of a culture that constantly tells me that I’m ashamed of anything that I don’t discuss in public. Being quiet about something . . . having discussions with your husband and your closest girlfriend in hushed murmurs . . . sometimes that’s a matter of being ladylike. Showing discretion. Putting up some boundaries and insisting that some matters stay discreet. Maybe it’s also a matter of being raised to be proud of being a lady by acting ladylike. 

I have a young daughter, and I affectionately call her my “Velcro baby.” She stays close to me and imitates my habits and mannerisms. She’s captivated by all of my personal rituals. She sticks close enough that she knows when I’m not feeling my best. She’s also seen me drag out my beloved heating pad from time to time. I prefer not to tell her that I have a tummyache because then she’ll worry that I’m sick and ask me if I’m going to throw up. So I’ve told her that the little box where she used to live hurts from time to time. In a couple of years, I’ll give her the scoop—and I’ll be as honest as her Mee Mee was, but I’m going to add a little sugar to make that medicine go down. Yes, it hurts, but it also means that your body is getting ready to carry a baby someday. Yes, it comes during undesirable times, but it’ll teach you some valuable lessons in life about staying prepared, being tough, and carrying a big (cute) bag. 

I’ll also tell her that there will be many occasions in life where womanly mysteries will arise. Should I call that boy? If I buy the same necklace that my friend has, will she be angry? She can trust me to tell her all about her period (and how to keep it private), and she can also trust me to guide her in other areas as well. But she will never be taught to be ashamed of that glorious little body that God created. 


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