I was a praying child, but I never prayed for that

By Gretchen

From the ages of 9 to 13, I read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret about a dozen times. I read a lot of the girlhood classics during those years, but kept returning to the bizarre world of the Four Pubescents of the Apocalypse.

Maybe I was trying to grasp their motivations? Nearly 30 years after my first reading, I still don’t get it. The book was and is perplexing.

Why did those girls want to get their periods so badly?

Menstruation was the #1 topic of conversation when the girls gathered. Margaret and Nancy were especially cycle-crazed, to the point one lied about getting it and the other hid a box of elephantine pads in her room and tried them on, attaching it to the pink belt of yore. Not only was Margaret a closet pad-wearer, she actually prayed for something to put on the pad.

I was not Margaret. I was the Anti-Margaret, a girl who prayed she wouldn’t get it ever in a bazillion years please God no I’ll do anything be a missionary in the Amazon like a nun or something for the rest of my life as soon as high school is done oh please don’t make me get that awful torture curse!

God answered Margaret’s prayer while her mother was packing her trunk for sleepaway camp. God answered my prayer too, in the form of a big “No” delivered to me one Tuesday night when I was 13 years old.

All of this has been on my mind lately because my oldest daughter just turned 12. I try to be positive about what’s coming, but sometimes I worry my negative attitude weasels it’s way through cracks in my voice when I talk about glorious womanhood. She’s a lot like me, I can tell.

If I say the word “period” she jumps. It can be in the context of, “9 p.m. is your bedtime, period!” and all the blood drains from her face.

Really, she should try to keep it there so it can’t go anywhere else.

Gretchen can also be found blogging at Lifenut.

15 Responses to I was a praying child, but I never prayed for that
  1. Cassie
    July 12, 2009 | 10:08 am

    I was the same way!! Always praying PLEASE don’t let it come!

  2. Beck
    July 12, 2009 | 12:07 pm

    I remember wanting my period very, very much, because it signaled the beginning of sexual maturity and I wanted VERY much to be a sexy lady. Little did poor young me know that getting my period would in no WAY make me any sexier. No, I was a sexless stringbean until well into my 20s.

  3. Gretchen
    July 12, 2009 | 4:43 pm

    I didn’t get the book either, but I only read it once. The only reason I was hoping to get it was that then I could calculate when it would come again. Waiting for the first one was like waiting for labor to start, only there weren’t even any hints as to when to start looking. I was 13 too, and I’m sure I spent at least a year looking for it. It was relief when it finally showed up. I’ve despised it ever since.

  4. edj
    July 12, 2009 | 6:14 pm

    Ugh. Did not get that book. Did not want my period. But now, with a 12 y/o daughter, I prick up my ears every time she yells “Mo-om! Can you come here?”

  5. Hannah
    July 13, 2009 | 12:23 am

    Ugh! Oh the awkwardness, how well I remember. My oldest dd is six, but I’m sure we’ll be entering this territory before I know it!

    Love your ending, btw.

  6. Kristen
    July 13, 2009 | 5:28 am

    I didn’t want mine, either. I was rather afraid of that mess. 🙂

    My daughter is almost nine. I bought her the American Girl Book “The Care and Keeping of You” and she read it cover to cover in a day or two. I think it gave her a nice background for what is to come.

    Oh wow, I can’t believe she’s nearly a tweenie!!!

  7. jenni
    July 13, 2009 | 10:58 am

    I read a book at that same time in my life about a girl who absolutely DIDN’T want it to come. I can’t remember the name of that book, sadly.

    I was one of those girls who wanted it to come, but I cannot for the life of me remember why now.

    None of my girls have been too keen on the description or the reality so far. I’ve got four down, three to go.

  8. Kelly
    July 13, 2009 | 3:42 pm

    I was just like you. Horrified by the very idea. Even more horrified when reality overtook me.

    Although, I must say, having been pregnant or nursing for most of the past decade, I’ve almost forgotten there was such a thing as Aunt Flo.

  9. Anitra
    July 13, 2009 | 8:41 pm

    I was ambivalent and couldn’t figure out what the big deal was… and then I got my period at the tender age of 10.

    From then on, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would WANT their period to come. My daughter isn’t even a year old yet, but my husband is already terrified of the idea of helping her to cope with a period. Hah!

  10. Mary
    July 14, 2009 | 9:41 am

    I loved that book. I didn’t want my period particularly either, even though I didn’t yet know that “That time of month” would be particularly painful and problematic for me.

    The part I found most perplexing about the book were the boob exercises “We must, we must increase our bust…” My husband nearly choked from laughing when I described them to him once.

  11. Martha C
    July 16, 2009 | 11:23 am

    I am right there with you! I have talked to my GYN about it because I am not a fan of the period at all. Luckily I didn’t start until 16. My daughter is 14, not looking forward to it but also dealing with everyone else having it but her. I told her to make her own decision but did she really want to lie to her friends. There is always something with a teen.

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