05 Mar G Day Stories: Tamara
Tamara Cotton is a mom, certified Life-Cycle Celebrant, Doula, and G Day Circle Leader. Thank you for sharing your story, Tamara!
As a “tween,” I was very curious about becoming a woman. I felt as though I were about to enter a secret club of bra-wearing and menstruating women. I read Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret – Judy Blume’s story about a girl coming of age – over and over again. I thought that once I had my period, I would be special… somehow more important. My excitement was somewhat tempered by my mom’s difficulty with her period. She had pain and dramatic hormonal shifts that had me a bit worried about what was to come with the changes in my own body. In my family, menstruating was not a welcome event, as it came with “problems.”
I was the first person in my class to develop breasts. I felt so grown up! Then one day, my grade five teacher called me up to her desk at the front of the room and told me in a very stern voice that I needed to start wearing a bra. I felt so exposed and embarrassed and wondered if anyone had heard what she said to me. I felt judged and ashamed. I felt confused as to what I had done wrong and why it was her business anyways?! A short time later, my parents bought me a bra – for CHRISTMAS!!! Yup – wrapped and all… ready to open in front of my family and my grandparents. Wow… Again, my excitement about becoming a women was dulled by a feeling of embarrassment. My parents did this to be “cute” and open, but I would have preferred to have my mom take me shopping so that it was more private and so that I could choose a bra for myself.
I was also the first girl to get my period in my class. I came home from school one day and saw that I had begun bleeding. I called for my mom, but she was on the phone. My brother (who was 3 years younger than me) came into the bathroom. I said, “I got my period!” He took a look and said “Ok! I’ll go and tell mom.” He did so, and my mom told him to go and get some pads from her bathroom to give me. I think my mom wanted me (and my brother) to know that this was a normal part of life and not make a big deal out of it. In a way, I appreciate that she was open about it (on a very basic level), but, looking back, I realize how much I would have benefited from much more.
For one, my mother’s own lack of confidence and her extremely low self-esteem and body image was all that I knew about women. She hated herself – dieting constantly, and picking apart every inch of her body in the mirror each day. I would have loved having a supportive community of girls and women to ask questions to… to be with each other wherever we were at along the journey of life as a woman… to share wisdom and to know that there were other ways of viewing oneself… to understand the beauty and power of being a woman, and to understand my body and love myself. I have this type of community now in my life and it is a huge blessing. I am grateful that my own daughter will grow up with a healthier and more empowered sense of herself.
I think it essential that these transitions in life are marked in meaningful ways. That girls feel supported and cared for, that they have the knowledge and tools with which to maneuver the challenges that can be part of becoming a woman, and that they are celebrated along the way! Thank you, Madeleine and Lunapads, for putting on such an important event for our community.