I was 10 years old in 5th grade. I was going to VBS in Trenton. The church sent around a school bus to pick up children from the surrounding community. I wore my white eyelet lace dress with a pink satin ribbon tie. I do not remember cramps or nausea proceeding this incident. Maybe I thought I was nervous. I would be riding the bus alone with strangers going to a church I had never been to. But I was also excited by the adventure and being able to go somewhere by myself. It made me feel grown up.
I wish I could remember the bible lesson they taught us that day. I know there was a felt board involved. I am pretty sure that Jesus was performing a miracle. The Loaves and the Fishes? Water into Wine? As I sat there on the front row listening I had the unmistakable sensation of wetting myself. Surprised I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got there I was overwhelmed and a little scared. There were adults there but no one I knew or could trust with such a private occurrence. I cleaned myself up. I washed the palm sized bloodstain out of the back of my dress as best I could.
If anyone noticed anything a miss as I walked down the aisle and out of the room no one said anything or came to check on me. But that did not stop me from feeling the full force of the embarrassment. I hid out in the bathroom until I heard the rest of the children being dismissed. I gathered my courage and the stained portion of my dress in my hand and marched as confidently as I could to the bus. I sat alone on the 30 minute ride hoping and praying that no one would notice or draw attention to me.
After I got off the bus and it pulled away I released my skirt and skipped down our long gravel drive feeling a sense of excitement and elation. My mom had given me a pamphlet that explained all about menstruation. I do not remember having an in depth conversation but I do remember her putting a box of tampons in my bathroom for when the time came. I was very excited for this to happen because according to my pamphlet getting my period would make me an adult. I confess that I used at least half that box before my period ever came. I do not remember mom ever saying anything about it though. I sat on the toilet reading the box and insert over and over.
I am not sure the length of time between this and my Menarche but despite the information I was caught unaware. Maybe there were signs that my mother saw that I did not recognize. Maybe she chose to talk to me based on when she had her first period. What has stuck with me all these years though was me sitting in the bathroom excited about the realization that my body was changing and Mom asking me, ” What are you so happy about?” And then the puzzled expression on her face when I said “Becoming a Woman.”