When I was in 5th grade, my teacher wrote a sentence on the board and emphasized the period at the end of the sentence. I don’t recall why. Maybe it was something like “You will obey me, period!” (There was definitely an exclamation point at the end instead of an actual period.) Anyway, I made a little joke about the period to the kids sitting around me, and she called me out on it. Maybe she forgot about the other meaning for the word “period”, and why that would be funny to a group of 5th graders. Since I had yet to experience it, I didn’t realize periods are no joke.
I’ve never liked the word period. At least when it’s referring to menstruation. Then again, I’ve never liked the word menstruation either. I cringe as I write these words, but it has to be written. Because my period is a major insult.
When you go through the adolescent lessons on puberty, you learn all about how and why these happen to women on a monthly basis. (Because you become a “woman” when your period starts. Clearly.) I recall becoming a woman in the middle of my 6th grade year, but I don’t know if anyone else around me recognized me as one. I mean, I still had a bedtime and wasn’t allowed snacks without permission. So, yeah, somehow the whole becoming a woman thing didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped.
But, as much as I didn’t enjoy these monthly events that would strike as soon as I decided to wear my white jeans, we just had to remember that this was happening so that we could have children one day. I mean, that is all you think about as a teen, right? Ok, I never actually thought of that. Literally, not even once as a teen. But I did after I got older and got married.
Push through the cramps.
Push through all the money you spend on, ahem, feminine products. (Knowing those commercials are a big ol’ lie.)
Push through the bloating that somehow seems to last all month.
It will be worth it.
Except it’s not.
At least, not for every woman. At least, not for the woman who cannot conceive. At least, not for me. You see, my period is a major insult. I was recently chatting with a friend who is in her mid-30s and single. She’s not sure she will get married or have children, and she feels the same way. Insulted. And I got to thinking…how many women are crammed into this boat with us? Insulted that they go through this super annoying event Every. Single. Month. for no reason. If the inability or lack of opportunity or lack of desire to have children is the injury, then the period is the insult to that injury. As if nature is laughing at us. And the only recourse you have is a heating pad, a bottle of Aleve, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
But, really, we can’t stop there. We can’t just accept this thing that puts us down and shames us for what it symbolizes. We can hold our heads high and recognize that it’s just a symbol of a different plan than what we anticipated. Comedian Gracie Allen used to say “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing all along…looking at this aspect of being a woman as a constant reminder of the finality of what I don’t and can’t have instead of as a natural part of life that doesn’t define what God has planned for my future. Including motherhood.
My friend and author Holley Gerth shared this piece of encouragement with me recently: “For all of us our period is not the end. Because God is still writing our stories. And even on the days when we’re frustrated, discouraged or even hopeless we can trust He’s not done yet–and neither are we. Yes, in a way a period is an end. But it’s also what makes a new beginning possible.”
Yes. A million times yes.
One day, our periods will be a memory, but what God has done in our lives and through us in the lives of others won’t be. That will be what lasts forever and that will be what matters most. Hey, I might even miss that “time of the month” because it was an indicator of youth…and an excuse for the weight gain. On second thought, I don’t think I’ll miss it at all. And I don’t mind putting a period on that.