01 Apr G Day Stories: Shawna
Shawna Scafe is a married stay at home mom to two toddlers, with number three on the way. She is a self-professed Lady Nerd who writes openly about motherhood, being married to BC’s most sarcastic husband, quinoa waffles and finding that perfect chambray shirt. Thank you for sharing your G Day Story with us, Shawna!
Three Things I Hope My Daughter Learns During Puberty
My mom and I never had the type of relationship to talk about personal things, especially not the life changing day I got my period. We even had a ‘code’ word for when I needed her to buy me pads. A word I would scrawl down on the side of a shopping list or shove awkwardly into a school drop off just before I shut the car door.
If we HAD talked about the day my 13 year-old self came home from school and raided the bathroom for pastel-coloured boxes of little wrapped packages, she probably would have been as awkward as me. She would have beamed with satisfaction that her reluctant daughter was finally exposing herself so intimately. She would have had some honey sweet saying about being a lady and compared this rite of passage with something like a My Little Pony getting its cutie mark. Except I would have been that clumsy mottled pony arching back in circles searching for her new mark to learn her fated and buried talents and passions. And my mark would have been something totally lame like a pickle… or a quail. I would have slumped down clueless as to what this all meant and felt gipped as womanhood slowly trickled into my scrawny body over the next decade.
Pretty much the same outcome as I had regardless of this imaginary conversation and pickle branded on my hip.
Aside from examining the instruction sheet of every type of feminine hygiene product I found in any bathroom I was ever in, I also asked some questions in family life class to fill in the blanks on how I should even handle my periods. Then a couple years later a doctor recommended I go on the pill to assuage my anemia and so I blanketed any knowledge gaps with ‘I’m on the pill, this is what women do, I don’t have to figure it out, just go with it’.
I hope to have a relationship with my daughter that we can talk openly about her period. Not to put expectations on how it will be but I imagine one that crosses the sacredness and sisterhood of the Red Tent with the effortless banter of the Gilmore Girls, and lots of chocolate in between.
Whether she wants to talk to me, a nurse, a friend, or I hand her the newest ‘so you’re bleeding every month’ app, I hope that she can have all her questions answered. I especially want her to learn these three things that took me well into my twenties to wrap my immature brain around.
1. A Woman’s Responsibility
The one and only ‘sex talk’ I had with my parents was a one-sided ‘wait till you’re married’ with me nodding in the corner. In school I learned that the female anatomy looked a lot like the Dodge symbol and how the egg gets fertilized. I wish someone told me about what sex can mean to women, positive and negative. Teenage girls have the task of learning about sexuality in a way that meets their belief system and safely avoiding pregnancy at the same time. She has to learn all of this under the scrutiny of a society that is quick to slap labels on her reputation.
The responsibility you carry once you enter ‘womanhood’ should be revered, respected and talked about. I wish I had learned in these adolescent years about the responsibility that comes with puberty and understanding your sexuality. The responsibility is there even if there isn’t the maturity yet to handle it.
Embracing your femininity; understanding the power you have as a woman; supporting and empowering your fellow women; and understanding you have equal rights as a man. These are some of the responsibilities that a woman must intertwine into her actions, and it starts as a teenager.
2. Listen to your Body
It wasn’t till my mid-twenties when I went off the pill to try and conceive that I actually started listening to my body. I started learning I was actually having mood swings, peaks of sexuality, cravings and other symptoms at certain times of my cycle. For years prior, I took all of these symptoms out of context and mistook them for a reaction to external causes.
I took for granted that there is a rhythm to my body and I should learn it and respect it. Once I learned the rhythm I could have an explanation for how I was feeling and not let it affect my life. There is a comfort in this cycle, and knowing that every other single woman experiences it in some way.
Listening to your body as it cycles each month is the training to listen to your body on a daily basis. How food affects you, how you carry your body, where and when you are feeling something and most importantly why you might be feeling it.
3. Britney Was Right
You’re not a girl, not yet a woman. You can sing it in your shower or on the edge of a desert cliff and it is true for every teenage girl.
If you line up twenty teen girls against the wall you will get twenty different stages of girls trying to look like society’s idea of a perfect woman. Some of them already posses this body and air to them, many of them don’t. It is a struggle on both ends of the spectrum but I’m familiar with the latter – the end of the spectrum that gets nicknames like ‘carpenter’s dream’ and wears socks and sandals.
It wouldn’t be till three years married and becoming pregnant that I finally felt ‘womanly’: curvy, capable, passionate, and purposeful. Yet, the 15 years from puberty to this time was filled with major dollars spent on padded bras and failed attempts to get that feeling and project that image to a society that expects every girl 16 and older to look like they came out of a Luke Bryan video. Let’s take a moment for Luke Bryan…
Of course telling a teenage girl, “being a woman is so much more than how you look” and “let yourself grow up first” is as reasonable as “sure you can buy your back to school wardrobe with this fiver, there’s a bag sale at the thrift store!” Although all three situations were present in my life, I have no idea how to relate this to a teenage female brain. I can only repeat these words and hope they patch up some of the anguish and pressure my teen girl takes on in attempts to be womanly even if still in the process of becoming one.
If my words don’t work then I will keep polished up on my karaoke version of “I’m Not a Girl.” Most likely followed up with her involuntarily listening to me singing a marathon of ‘Girl-Power Ballads of the 90s’.