Today my oldest child, Piper, turns 10. Although Piper started showing early signs of puberty over the past year, which should be sign enough that my little girl is growing up, 10 still seems like a sudden shock to me. Over the weekend we had our family birthday party for Piper, I put up a timeline on our dining room wall with photos of her from birth to now. So many memories, can this be real? All of this has happened already and now here we are in double digits? It feels like a dream. A beautiful, sometimes scary, often hilarious dream that I don't ever want to wake up from.
Like I said, it's odd that I'd feel such surprise today at the thought of Piper growing up because so much has happened lately to shove the fact right in my face. Last month Piper had a UTI and it turned out that the culprit was normal vaginal discharge which was causing wetness and irritation. At our doctor appointment for the UTI, Piper's physician also noted in a very off-hand, I-see-this-every-day-and-its-no-big-deal-to-me sort of way "Oh yeah...she has about, hmm, I'd say 8 pubic hairs and also a bit of breast development starting." Piper's cheeks went pink at this, but a shy smile also crept across her face in a way that said "Yes!!! I've been waiting for this!" I was glad that she was feeling good about these changes, but although I'd been preparing for them all year long...knowing that the changes were well on their way, the physician's statement gave me an internal shock. It was like a tiny earthquake careened through my heart and a screaming whisper on the wind said "It's really happening, no turning back now!" I gathered my senses though and tried to make a copy on my face of the same "This ain't no thang!" expression on the doc's face. I think it worked, I think Piper bought it. Oh yeah, I'm totally not freaking out about this.
Back at home, with my wits finally about me, I was able to use this experience to talk with Piper about feminine hygiene. I explained why this would be a good time to start using her U by Kotex Tween panty-liners and the importance of changing them often so that she could keep wetness from causing irritation. Then we talked about how the same would be true for pads during her period. This lead to a more in depth conversation about the difference between the flow of discharge and the flow of blood. I told her that sometimes, if you don't change your pad often enough when there is a heavier flow, that leaks can occur. This was a great opportunity to again go over the little cosmetics bag we were given by U by Kotex Tween. We filled it at the beginning of the school year with essentials, such as pads and panty liners, a note for the teacher in case she gets her period, and an extra pair of underwear among other things. We talked about what to do and how to be discreet if she is at school or at a sleepover and then has a leak. I reminded her that all of her friend's moms have been through what she is going through now, so if she is ever at one of their home's when something like this happens she can feel comfortable asking for their help or at least letting them know enough information so that I can be called to come and help. We even spent a little time going over the specifics of menstruation as far as cycle length and how to keep a calendar so that you can start to know ahead of time when your period might be coming. Kotex has a great little example calendar that comes in the booklet with the U by Kotex Tween pads and liners. I used this has a guide.
I always worry about Piper feeling overwhelmed when we have these conversations, but really she seems relieved to be given the tools and advice that prepare her for the great unknown. If the concrete signs of her body changing were a big shock for me, the biggest shock for Piper was the emotional upheaval that has begun to take place as part of these changes. Suddenly my rock-steady, always light and airy girl has become highly emotional, crying at the drop of a hat and at times exploding with frustration over issues with friends or siblings. She was never like this before and suddenly there's just so MUCH going on inside her sweet heart. It occurred to me rather quickly one day as I sat next to her while she sobbed on her bed over something that to me seemed pretty minor and that to her seemed like the absolute end of the world, that this emotional upheaval was just another sign of puberty. When her sobs slowed to trickling tears and a few hiccups, I spoke to her calmly and soothingly about the hormonal aspect of puberty and the degree to which things her feelings could be effected by such hormones. I explained to her that heightened emotions could be another sign that her period is on its way. She sobbed harder. "I don't wanna grow up!!!" How many times and places has that sentence been uttered the world over, I wonder. Weeks after this discussion however, Piper was again crying about something that seemed so big to her and in the midst of talking about it, she was able to recognize that part of what was making this feel so big to her was probably horomones, "Mama," she said, "Remember when you said that I might have all these big feelings because my body is changing?....[sob, sniffle]...Well, I think that's what's going on with me RIGHT NOW." Oh sweet thing. I wanted to laugh and cry all at once because of her cuteness and because I've been there, in fact I'm still there on a monthly basis. *wink*
Wow. This puberty stuff is a whirlwind. It's not even close to happening one day and then suddenly, here we are. I have to say, and I know I've said it before, but educating myself before I tried to educate Piper has been hugely important. Education and support for Mama has meant better education and support that I can offer to Piper. I have been reading up a storm and talking to friends who have been there or are there, additionally the U by U by Kotex Tween website has been a fantastic resource. I have even practiced talking to her by imagining the whole scenario and mentally role-playing before I actually spoke to her. Sure, there have been times when the opportunity to talk has popped up before I had a chance to fully prepare, but for the most part I've found when I tune into my own woman's wisdom and trust myself I am able to help Piper tune into her own burgeoning woman's wisdom and find her way to trusting herself and me. She knows more than ever that the doors of communication are always open and that we are in this together. I think knowing that she's not alone is one of the greatest gifts I have been able to give her.
Wishing a happy birthday to the girl who gave me the gift of motherhood, and wishing you all bright blessings as you travel this or a similar journey,
I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.