So maybe I’m arriving late to this party, but recently I’ve been thinking about how to appreciate our menstrual cycles and all they give us. Really, I mean, apart from the sheer inconvenience of them, they do teach us a lot of powerful qualities that define us as women. Hell, maybe it’s even these qualities that train us for becoming mums?!
Think about it. Around 12, we get our first period and so begins our never-ending commitment to change. Then, every month, we go through a cycle of fluctuations linked to our undeniable connection with mother nature. It’s through this constant flux that we can learn adaptability, ingenuity and acceptance. How? Let me break it down for you here.
I’ve always suffered quite badly from Pre-Menstrual Tension/Stress (PMT/PMS). When I was younger, I didn’t know that’s what was going on, all I ‘knew’ was that my mood was not under my control. It was like everything got so much harder and to survive, I had to learn to adapt. And I’m sure I’m not alone. We all have different experiences of our cycles, but in one way or another, we’ve all had to adapt to our new way of being.
And this continues monthly, throughout our lives. The fluctuations of hormones during our cycle can affect our mood, weight and energy levels. So how do we adapt? By learning to remain patient when we really want to scream. Or by pigging out on chocolate and cake before our period promising ourselves we’ll be healthier afterwards. And with our changing energy levels, we change our schedules to suit our needs (sometimes….!)
As a mum, adaptability is key to surviving with kids. Your 4-year-old only wants to eat green food from now on? No, problem, we have green grapes and broccoli. Your 8-year-old decides to sing to you every morning while you have breakfast and your eyes are barely open? Bring it on, I’ll have Alexa put on some tunes. As mums, we adapt effortlessly (almost) to all the crap our kids throw at us and for this, we can in part thank our periods!
Periods have a nasty habit of turning up at the wrong time. How many times have you gotten your period when you’re out and about and you don’t have your cup, tampons etc with you? Or you’ve been sitting in a meeting and you feel that all too familiar wetness forming in your knickers? All our lives this happens to us and it started when we were just a kid! Depending on your age, that’s a good few years of being inventive in these times of trouble and finding solutions! Be honest, how many different things have you repurposed into a sanitary towel in an emergency?
In fact, we can link this skill to a good friend of ingenuity; preparedness. As mums, the amount of junk we carry around in our bags is essential for the daily challenges our kids like to set us. No tissue for a runny nose? Easy, I’ll use this spare sock from my bag. The kids need something to carry all the lovely stones from the park home? Hmmm, where’s that other sock? Or what about “Mum, I don’t like vegetables in my pasta sauce”. Next pasta sauce made with the vegetables pureed into oblivion.
Periods are pretty amazing when you think about it.
So the mother of all skills that periods can teach us and prepare us for life with is acceptance. Having periods sucks! But accepting them and your cycle, in general, teaches us about strength. They teach us to have the strength to change the things that we can. And the strength to endure and find gratitude for the things we can’t. Through our menstrual cycles, we can learn to appreciate our connectedness to nature and the remarkableness of our own bodies. The coming and going of seasons, the evolving of the world and the animals that live upon it, life & death. And the goal is to accept it all.
It starts with us, accepting ourselves as we are. Extending this to our partners and family. And maybe most importantly, accepting our kids and teaching them acceptance. Expectations of ourselves and others is a destructive force that can only lead to hurt and disappointment. Instead of trying to mould our kids into our preconceived ideals or live out our dreams through them, we should learn from our menstrual cycles and all of nature. Accept things as they are and nurture the uniqueness. Be gentle with ourselves and others and show compassion at all times (unless I’ve got PMT and then you better run and hide!).
How about you? Do you agree? What have you learned from your menstrual cycle?