Sunday, March 12, 2006


Ilda Ruth Curnutt Waters
Mom was a modest woman, raised in a time and place where private matters absolutely were not discussed in public. Any mention of bodily functions or anything remotely sexual would cause her face to flush bright red and her eyes to look anywhere but at the person who dared to bring up such an unlady-like subject. If forced into such a topic she was the Queen of Euphemisms, Mom could say more without actually saying anything than any person I ever met.

Somewhere in my early preteens it came time for her to tell me about "becoming a woman" (talk about euphemisms!). I don't remember how old I was, 10 or 11 maybe. But this time Mom had a plan!

Secretly, she sent away to Kotex for a little kit with a sample of everything in it (remember this was back in the day when you had to wear a sanitary belt) and a few pamphlets describing EXACTLY what would happen in great detail.

I wish I still had those pamphlets, I'm a little sentimental towards them. They were relatively upbeat -- telling you that there were some myths out there and that having your period didn't mean a thing, and that you could dance and do anything you wanted. It glossed over the cramps thing, which it could have stood to discuss in more detail, but I guess they wanted to not scare kids. Heck, the fact that you tried to bleed to death and felt like you'd eaten green apples each month was bad enough!

When my kit came in the mail she handed the box to me, explained that it was something I was now old enough to know, told me to read it and we would talk about what I had learned. I didn't know what was going on. It wasn't my birthday, why was I getting presents?

I went into the bedroom that I shared with Donna, lay across our bed and tried to make sense out of the funny looking stuff in that box. Mom must have stood guard, it was the first time I had ever went into a room and not be interrupted by a younger sister wanting to know what I was doing, what I had, where it came from, and why didn't they have one too.

In the package there was a piece of elastic with metal doohickies hanging off in a couple of places, 6 long thick cottony things that looked like I don't know what, and those cute little books. Lucky for me, I started reading young and could figure out that these weird things were supposed to be strapped on and shoved up between my legs. Yuck! How could I keep from walking spraddle-legged with that wad of stuff stuffed up into my crotch??

Then came the fun part. Nobody around our house ever ran around undressed. Although Mom and Dad were physically affectionate with each other, hugging and kissing and sitting in each other's laps, there was no bare skin or hanging out in your underwear. With 5 daughters in a three bedroom house with no indoor bathroom (days of the outhouse, y'all) modesty and privacy were highly valued and hard to come by.

Now not only did Mom have to have "the discussion", she actually had to show me how to wear that stupid belt and attach the pad. Fun stuff girls! If you think that wearing a pair of thongs are a pain in the butt (pun intended), then you ain't seen nothing until you try wearing a pad & belt all day.

The pads included with the kit were bulky and had long tabs on either end to hook onto the belt. The whole thing put together had the effect of a great big wedgie. It was lovely, the pads leaked and if you wore a tight skirt or pants you could see the outline of the belt. The tabs chaffed in the back and you could wind up with a red, raw ass crack.

We got through all this mother-daughter bonding with lots of flaming cheeks and giggles. The topic of sex was never brought up, I believe that Mom had all she could stand with just the "Curse" discussion. Being the oldest of 5 girls, Mom had to start with me but I'm sure she had her "bloody speech" down pat by the time Lana rolled around.

Dang, wonder what Mom would have ordered through the mail if she had planned the "Facts of Life" talk?? Maybe a catalog from Adam and Eve?

Thanks to MUM (MUseum of Menstruation ) where I found a lot more than was included in my first kit, including a Halloween Costume made out of feminine hygiene products!

Technorati Tags: Family, Mother+Daughter, Menstruation, Humor, Growing Up, Kotex, MUM, Feminine, Museum of Menstruation

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