Following an especially hectic day, my ten-year-old daughter slipped a note under my bedroom door. It read, “Sometimes you are totally normal, but sometimes you are just crazy and I don’t know why.”
Well I know why I’m sometimes crazy. It’s because I teach thirteen-year-olds all day and then I pick you three up from school, drive straight to sports practice and get home to a mess of a house and a husband who is disappointed because there is no dinner again and someone has a book report due tomorrow. This scenario repeats each day, usually with two doozie days that involve kids changing into sports gear in the minivan and me speeding through a drive-thru between practice sites, feeling guilty about processed foods. Our life is bonkers right now, and it results in me losing my cool way more than I’d like to admit. And that’s not even factoring in my monthly mood swings!
But, that’s not why I got that note under my door.
I got that note after I yelled at my daughter about her tennis shoes and why she continued wearing old grubby shoes after I’d just bought her some for Christmas. In fact, I refused to drive her to her friend’s birthday party until she changed her shoes. This scenario involved shoes flying in and out of the minivan and resulted in lots of tears and an eventual compromise with her using Lysol wipes to clean her old grubby shoes. Was I being overly dramatic? Yup. Was I over-reacting? You bet. Was I PMSing? Ding, ding, ding! Even after I’d marched into the house following the shoe argument, I knew full well why I was crazier than normal. But my poor unsuspecting ten-year-old did not.
Time for the Monthly Mood Swings Talk
The next day, I decided to be totally honest with her after apologizing for my extra intense lapse in responsible mom behavior. It sounded something like this:
“I’m sorry for acting crazy yesterday about your shoes. I realize it was silly and not important, and I shouldn’t have yelled about it like that. Here’s why I’ve been especially moody lately – I’m PMSing. This means I feel things really intensely, and my emotions are all over the place. I’m cranky, tired, irritable, and sometimes irrational during this particular time each month.”
Then I proceeded to talk about what a period is, why it happens, what to do when it happens, what you feel like when you get it, and all that good stuff about monthly mood swings. I refrained from mentioning Aunt Flo, Shark Week, and The Red Badge of Courage. I really wanted to, but I was trying to be responsible and mature the first time around. So I decided to save those for later. The conversation went well. I answered her questions, and then we moved on with the day. She seemed content with the information and was even empathetic towards the female species after hearing about what they endure each month.
Ice Cream and the Hallmark Channel
I now feel a sense of relief, because my daughter understands that the mom who is “mostly normal” is still in there. But on days when I’m not, I’ll need some grace and some space to feel all the feels. And she won’t have to question my monthly mood swings anymore. She’ll know that this is temporary and that “mostly normal mom” will be back soon. I’ve also learned to check in with myself during this time and try to find ways to deal with all the things that tend to spiral out of control. Most importantly, I learned to remind myself that this is temporary and it doesn’t define my mom status. And just as my daughter forgave me, I can forgive myself when I lose my cool, whether it’s related to that time of the month or not.
I had always imagined that the period conversation would be awkward and uncomfortable. Turns out, getting that note slid under my door was a blessing. It allowed me to be open, honest, and to communicate with my daughter in a way that brought us closer together. Soon enough, we’ll be able to commiserate together with a gallon of rocky road ice cream and the Hallmark channel. As crazy as it sounds, I’m kinda looking forward to it. I’ll be able to ask things like, “Did you get your Crimson Tide?”, “Are you having your Lady Business?”, and “Is the Uterus Ninja visiting?” I. Cannot. Wait.