Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Guilty Conscience. Period.

Have I mentioned that guilt is a big thing with me? I feel it all the time, about everything. Even things over which I have no control. Some people call it “Catholic guilt” – maybe… Or it may come from my grandmother – she has perfected guilt to an art form (don’t tell her I said that!). Regardless of the source, and my usual, relative innocence, I feel guilty all the time. The latest cause of my guilt? The agonizing weight of knowing that I need to have “the talk” with my 10-year-old daughter, particularly about getting her period… Too young? Yeah, that’s what I think too, but kids are growing up so quickly these days, and I would rather her a) hear it from me than from someone at school, and b) be prepared in case it shows up unexpectedly while I am not around to help her.

I have asked other mothers (friends of mine, relatives, her friends’ mothers) to see if they have brought up the subject with their daughters, and have found out that no, they have not. Some are not really worried about it yet, some are thinking about it and planning how to bring the subject up. One family member let me borrow a couple of books to read with my daughter, but I have been so freaked out by the whole thing, that I had not even taken them out of the bag! I have also swapped stories with friends at work, my mother, my mother-in-law – I’ve received lots of good advice on what to do – prepare her, just in case is the big tip. LOTS of friends never knew anything about it until it arrived – big surprise! Also, a friend at work mentioned that once her mother told her about it (after she got it the first time) her mother neglected to tell her that it would only last a few days (and come back every month, of course) – but she thought it would continue for the rest of her life – continuously! See? Good information to have!

I have a slightly unique situation, considering my daughter has a form of OCD that we refer to as “stuck thinking.” She can see or hear something that is upsetting to her, and it will get stuck in her head and cause her a great deal of anxiety. I have been trying to walk the fine line between telling her too early and causing her to endlessly perseverate over the idea, and not telling her in time and causing her to freak out when it arrives unexpectedly and she is unprepared. SIGH. Decisions, decisions…

So, now that you have an idea about my state of mind for the past, um, six months or so, let me tell you what NOT to do. Do not wait until the last minute. And the last minute for me was after a particularly stressful day, with an episode of “stuck thinking” and anxiety in the morning while getting ready for work and school. And a pronouncement to my family that night that I have a very important event for work the next morning and I cannot have a repeat of that morning’s episode – everything must run smoothly – please, oh please, be Mommy’s big helpers! And then we wake up yesterday morning and things are running smoothly, until my daughter tells me that her lower back is hurting her and she describes the pain as “crampy.” And my guilty conscience rears up and tells me, “You should have told her sooner!” And I worry that, while I don’t know why her back is bothering her, it COULD be a hint that “IT” is coming (having lived through many, many crampy back pains over the years…). So, what do I do on my crazy, busy morning? I decide not to let my daughter go to school without a little bit of information about possibly getting her period. But I am in a race to get my daughter and myself ready so that she can get to school and I can get to my important work function… Needless to say, it was not the sweet, mother-daughter bonding moment that you might see on a tv. I tried to start out calmly and first asked her if she had heard anything about it from her friends. No. Then I started to explain that as boys and girls get older, they go through some changes. Boys’ voices might change, boys and girls start growing hair in other places on their bodies, girls begin to grow breasts… And then I launched into the talk (as best I could – not great on the spur of the moment) about girls getting their periods. It did not go well. After much stress on both of our parts, and her insistence that she was not interested in having that happen, I asked, “Would you rather have the information ahead of time and file it away for when you need it, or would you rather be surprised?” And she said with a sigh, “Have the information.” In the end, we both felt better and she did hide a couple of little pads in her backpack, just in case. It ended up being a false alarm, but I would never have forgiven myself if I had sent her off to school unprepared and something had happened!

As a follow up to our delightful talk, I had planned to buy the American Girl book, “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls.” I saw it at Barnes and Noble recently and thought it was wonderful – I should have grabbed it right then and there! Luckily, my friend Kristin actually had a copy of it and she is letting me borrow it until her daughter needs it. It really is a great book for young girls to have. It covers everything from hair care, hygiene, ear piercing, choosing the right bra, and of course, everything you need to know about getting your period. My daughter and I sat down this morning and looked through the book together and read a little of it. This is something that we both feel comfortable either reading together, or she can read it and we can talk about it together.

Most importantly, however you handle it, I think it is so important for girls to get this information from their mothers. I specifically asked my daughter not to talk about this with her friends or cousin until I know from their mothers that they are informed on the subject. I told her that it is important for their moms to tell them -- not her! It is not an easy topic to bring up, but once I was able to get over my own discomfort about discussing it, we both feel better about it and she is ready -- whenever the time comes!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quick & Easy Valentine's Day Decorations

My girls and I love to decorate for the holidays or the different seasons, and we were getting a little tired of the snowmen decorations (and the snow...). The snowmen were what we had kept out from the Christmas decorations after we removed all of the Santas and took down the Christmas trees. I have collected a few Valentine's Day decorations, but the house was feeling a little bare, so I came up with a free and simple solution! I went through the construction paper that we had in the cupboard and I pulled out any of the red, pink (the other side of the green hearts...), or purple paper that we had. The girls and I cut out hearts in different sizes, and we taped them on the large front window in the dining room and the sliding glass door and windows in the living room. The girls also took a couple of hearts and taped them to their bedroom windows. Now, I "splurged" and spent $1.99 on a packet of white, lacy paper hearts at the store, and we mixed those in as well. But next year, I think we'll just make our own "lacy" hearts by cutting out hearts and then folding them and cutting them as though we were making snowflakes. It was a fun and quick little project that made the house look festive for Valentine's Day! We are planning to keep those up for the month of February, and then we'll switch over to shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day!