Periods and Priesthoods
We were talking about the priesthood, and how boys get it when they’re 12 and girls don’t have any similar ritual. We spoke of the way that boys emerge into a very visible role at that age, and how significant it is for them to pass the sacrament each Sunday. We were bantering back and forth when my friend Holly replied*:
“You know where girls are at age 12? Unlike the boys who are getting public recognition for advancing to the priesthood, 12 year-old girls are locked in the bathroom w/their Tampax.”
As I thought more about it, I realized that she was right. Girls, at about age 12, have an important change in their lives, but it’s a private, secret matter. For all of the church’s rhetoric about motherhood being equal to the priesthood, you would think that there would be some sort of ritual/celebration to mark a girl’s first period—the really big change in her life that allows the possibility of motherhood.
My daughter is approaching her pre-teen years and I’ve been thinking lately of how our family should mark her first period. I’ve heard of rituals like roses, or parties. Though I want to do something special for her, I also don’t want to invade her privacy.
My first period came at a moment of _huge_ change in my life. I was using the toilet in an airport bathroom when I discovered that I was bleeding. I was about to board a plane with my Mom and sisters. We were in the process of moving from Colorado to California—the females were flying while my Dad and brothers were driving the cars over. It turned out that both my Mom and older sister were in the middle of their periods at that time, too. So we flew to California and then had three days in a hotel together while we waited for the guys. Mom and Big Sis gave me lots of advice and support. I felt supported and loved. It was a very positive and memorable experience.
I want to do something similarly memorable for my daughter when she begins her period—have some ‘girl’ time with her, or have a special dinner/party/celebration. But I’m not at all sure what to do and I feel like I need to have a plan soon so I’m prepared when it happens.
So I’m asking a few questions of you:
1) Do you have any suggestions for how the church could better mark this change in girls’ lives?
2) How did your mother or family react when you started your first period?
3) What ways have you marked this event in your daughters’ lives?
4) Can you pass along any advice on how I can celebrate my daughter’s first menses?
*I’m retelling Holly’s words from memory. Hopefully I’m recording something close to what she actually said 🙂
I’ve just read some of the comments on this thread and realized that I want to add two more questions:
5) Have you ever felt any shame coming from the church (or its institutions) about menstruation? For example, I’ve heard some weird stories about YW not being allowed to to temple baptisms during their periods.
6) Do you think the reason this is such an embarrassing topic for many women, LDS or otherwise, is that menstruation is still associated w/uncleanliness (as in Christ’s era)?