Like so many girls, when I found out I was going to have a period every month, I was shocked. Truly shocked. I had signed on for life as a woman without understanding all the terms.
Most of us get used to the idea of a monthly period (given that we have little choice), and our cycles become intrinsic to our beings.
- Am I going to have my period on the sailing trip? Yikes, how will I manage?
- What if I get cramps in the middle of my two-hour presentation?
- Is it chancy to wear my white jeans today?
When I was doing the research for my picture book biography, Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and “America the Beautiful,” I spent hours reading letters in the archive at Wellesley College.
In one letter, Bates writes to her mother that her “flow” has finally started up, and she is feeling better. As I read those words, I thought, even a hundred years ago, and I’m sure a thousand years ago, your period, including PMS, became part of who you were.
Katherine Lee Bates might not be happy that this very personal letter survived, but I’m glad it did. We, the women of 2011, are part of the Great Womanhood. Snatches of history like this help us appreciate our feminine heritage, period talk and all.
Giveaway: I’m offering a signed hardback copy of Purple Mountain Majesties. Tell me in a comment why you’d like to win. All comments must be in by Saturday morning. Winner will be chosen at random.
Teachers: You can find creative activities to use with the book here:
Photo: On the book’s cover are lines from Katharine’s line-a-day diary. No period talk here, but you’ll find sprightly references to her trip to Pikes Peak, where she wrote “America the Beautiful.”
About the Artist: The wonderful illustrations for Purple Mountain Majesties were painted by picture book artist Stacey Schuett. To see more of her work, go to: http://www.staceyschuett.com/