Womanhood (with more sprinkles)


March 5, 2012

I was raised Catholic.

My mother comes from a long line of strong Catholic women, and therefore she is a rosary slinging, Hail Mary praying, Mass going, Ash Wednesday ashing, Advent calendar opening, light a candle for those we love kind of lady.

Which consequently meant I had to be too.

For years she would cart my brother Jason and me around to church no less than three times a week, one for Sunday Mass, second for catechism on Wednesday afternoons, and lastly, the worst one ever for an 9-year-old, confession on Saturday.

Those sessions would usually go like this:

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

Yes, my child, go ahead.

I was mean to my brother and flicked off my mom when she wasn’t looking.

Anything else, my child?

I fed the cat my boogers. And I don’t like Stephanie Beatleman anymore, she’s a rotten whore. I mean, she’s not nice.

I see. Well the Lord absolves all of your sins, go now in peace, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And so I did, until we got to the McDonald’s across the street, and my reckless behavior would show itself once again. “MOOOOMMM!! How come Jason got the Grimace toy and I got the Hamburglar??! I wanted Grimace. Make him give it to me!! I’m going to hold my breath until he gives it to me!”

That tactic never worked.

And sometimes my punishment would land me right back in that confessional booth.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

You again?

Yes father. I got in trouble at the McDonald’s across the street.

Go ahead my child.

I stole my brother’s Grimace toy and then ate all his chicken nuggets…

The crowning moment of my Catholic experience happened when I was 12. I just finished my Wednesday afternoon CCD class, and I walked to the room down the hall because my mom taught a kindergarden class there. Right before CCD I drank a massive cherry Icee and my bladder was about to explode imitation cherry flavoring everywhere, so I quickly ducked into the bathroom that was in the classroom that my mom was cleaning up in.

When I came out of the bathroom, I had this puzzled look on my face. My mom was picking up over turned chairs and paste globs off the carpet, and hardly noticed me.

I just stood in front of her with a ghostly white face until she paid attention.

“What’s the matter?” She finally asked.

“I…uh, I think I started my period.” I managed to say. My feelings about my first period were numerous and hard to describe. I was embarrassed, confused, proud, angry, on the verge of tears, and hungry. So basically the same thing every single woman in the human race feels when she gets her period.

She finally stopped what she was doing, and said, “Oh. Well, I guess we’ll have to stop on the way home and pick you up some Kotex.”

That was it.

No fanfare. No awkward sex talk. No celebratory ice cream sundae of womanhood.

I guess I half expected her to throw confetti in the air and exclaim, “WELCOME TO FERTILITY! YOU ARE NOW A WOMAN!”

Or maybe explain to me what I would be happening inside my uterus every month for the next 35 years.

But no. Instead, my reward was a giant pack of 68 count Kotex pads.

Extra absorbent.

When I became an adult and popped out a couple of kids, I finally asked her why she never made a bigger deal about it. I kind of thought she’d answer in a hushed voice, It’s because we were at church, dear. And the only blood we talk about at church is the blood of Jesus Christ.

But instead she said, “I didn’t want to embarrass you. I don’t know, Beck, what did you want me to do? Take you out for an ice cream sundae?”

“YES! Yes, mom, that’s exactly what I wanted you to do. But I’d like you to call it, a Celebratory Ice Cream Sundae of Womanhood please…with extra sprinkles.”



by Kathleen on March 5, 2012

Hahaha! My friends and I made each other cakes in junior high/high school after we started our periods. It was quite the big deal!

by Elizabeth on March 6, 2012

I have a friend who’s father brought her a dozen roses when she started her period. She was MORTIFIED. We still give her shit about it…

by Libby on March 7, 2012

You are a great writer! Your description of confession is right up there with the hilarious depictions of Catholicism in Angela’s Ashes…wonderful! I hear you on the ice cream sundae, and on the title. Amen! Although it could have been worse … my mom told my dad, and he congratulated me on “becoming a woman” over dinner. Ick.

by Laurie on March 23, 2012

Leave a comment