Talking about the P word (periods of course!) is extraordinarily difficult for some young girls – I remember it being pretty embarrassing when my mum and I spoke about it – and when she gave me a packet of sanitary towels to keep ‘just in case’, I almost ran for the rolling Cotswold hills.
And of course when the big day came and I turned into a proper ‘woman’ at the grand old age of eleven, it was still a pretty big shock to the system and of course the beginning of a monthly toil with my body and all the accoutrements and regalia that go along with the ‘curse’! Some girls are pretty happy when they first get their period but no not me – I would have preferred to play happily in the fields and stay forever ten years old permanently. Growing up was not an ambition of mine.
So last weekend when my gorgeous ten year old stepdaughter (let’s call her Amy) asked me “when are we going to talk about the P word?” I encountered a number of thoughts and feelings in quick succession:
- Wow – a stepmum brownie point – she wants me – yes me – to talk to her about periods. YES! Even though it’s not a competition with real mum of course…or actually, yes it blooming well is – no not in front of the kids it’s not, or second time around dad for that matter – but in my head this is super significant and a massive ker-ching on my part.
- Pride – how amazing is this little girl who has the confidence to ask me, stepmum of just three years – and yet how scary for her too – she could only say ‘the P word’ and not PERIOD! So it must have taken some guts which impresses me rather.
- And oh goodness methinks – I need to handle this appropriately….
So did I introduce little ‘Amy’ to the world of womanhood and gladly bag my brownie point on the stepmum scoreboard. No I did not. Even though it would be my honour to explain everything she wants to know, and I’d be proud to do so, I did not.
Part of this stepmother game, in my opinion, is not taking anything away from the real mum. Give real mum the chance to achieve these mummy milestones, and yes of course, if it doesn’t work out, come back to me and we’ll go through it together.
Being a stepmum is all about knowing boundaries and talking about periods should really be a real mum and daughter thing wherever possible. So I find myself in a situation where I am (a) proud to have been asked before real mum (b) proud to have had the integrity to pass the baton back to real mum (c) secretly hoping that real mum falls at the first hurdle and passes the baton back to me – but let’s give her a chance first hey stepmums? Making sure real mum is happy too is just one element of the tricky game of stepmum versus real mum snakes and ladders.
Have you had the same experiences as me? I’d love to chat to other stepmums, so come on stepmums, let’s unite!