I’m the mom who cried in the parking lot after dropping off her daughter on her first day of preschool. I also cried the day she boarded the bus for the first time, heading off to kindergarten wearing a backpack more than half her size.
I cried the first time she got up on water-skis, when she saved the penalty kick that got her soccer team into the finals, and when I learned about the first time an idiot boy broke her heart after five weeks of text-message dating.
Mind you, I don’t mean actual tears. I’m not THAT big of a drama queen. What I do mean to convey about my particular brand of mother-crying is the unmistakable crying-like-lump in the throat—the one that if you let it, WILL produce tears if you don’t snap out of it and get a grip.
That said, I suppose it’s fitting I felt this now-familiar lump in my throat when I learned that my first-born daughter started her Moon Project.
My prepubescent girlfriends and I called it our “friend.” One of my college roommates called it “Pam,” short for Pamela—as in Pamela Period. I’ve heard menstruation called everything from “Aunt Flo’s in town,” to “Riding the Cotton Pony.” These days I usually call it by its symptoms: early cramps, a day or so of hemorrhaging and a red circle on the calendar to see how many days short in the cycle it happened this month. Middle age has seen a few blue moons.
My favorite pseudonym for female menses is “Moon Project,” which I first heard from my neighbor Pebbles Flintstone, now a senior in high school. I think this term is especially fitting for middle school girls who have to call home to ask for the appropriate supplies while surrounded by big-eared, highly interested listeners.
When the call came in, I was on the phone talking with a soccer mom about why her daughter wasn’t going to be at practice that night. I always enjoy speaking with this particular mom, so I didn’t activate the call waiting once I recognized the signal drowning out segments of her sentences. Of course, I couldn’t. Not only was I not wearing the 1.75 glasses necessary to see who was chiming in, I also didn’t know how to work call-waiting on my cell phone. (Can I just relate here that I never even wanted a cell phone? My family gave me a pre-programmed phone for Christmas, and each time I ask how to work something, instead of showing me, they just grab it and start touching buttons.)
So I missed the call. Two minutes later I was free and my husband walked in the back door. His home office is in an annex about 100 ft. away from mine.
“Okay, I’ll tell her,” he said as the door closed behind him with a bang. Then he chuckled and clicked off his phone. “She needs you to bring a headband, twenty-five dollars for the basketball team fee, and . . . a pad.”
I practically jumped out of my chair. Did he say “a pad?” OMG. Did I even know where to find a pad? Does anyone still use pads? I thought they went out with the belt!
The lump in my throat took form as I searched her bathroom cabinet and came up with a supply. I remembered buying a few just-in-case items a while back, and there they sat, waiting for this girl to attain enough body fat to bring it on. Even though this rite of passage seemed to be taking its sweet time in coming, I couldn’t help but once again feel that first my life and now my children’s lives are flying by as fast as an SST.
And this is what made me want to cry. I wished my mother were still around so I could call her and tell her about Willow becoming a woman.
Gathering everything I thought she needed, I made my way to school where she and her basketball team were busy getting ready for the season opener on the following afternoon. She was very casual about the whole thing, far more composed on the outside than I was on the inside. It was no big bloody deal for her. But that’s my kid. Grace under pressure should be her motto. She picked out what she needed, including the headband, and then promptly reminded me that I forgot to bring the twenty-five bucks for basketball.