My mother wanted to keep me in an arrested state of development. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that most parents don’t want to see their little babies grow up. Or maybe they don’t want us to become familiar with our burgeoning sexuality and have us shame the family by getting knocked up at 15. Maybe they’re just prude. Or asexual. Which might both be the case with my mother (Yo Mom, if you’re reading this, STOP RIGHT NOW!)
At 13 when most girls had freshly shaved appendages and a new found interest in what Victoria’s Secret had to offer, I was still tomboyin’ it with furry legs and a sports bra that may or may not have stunted my breast growth. Mom told me there was no reason to grow up so quickly and like so many stupid stupid children, I believed what my mother told me.
Take for example her neglecting to introduce me to tampons.
For years, when I got my period, I’d walk around with a bulky pad between my legs. The official adult diaper (no, well, I guess that would be Depends, wouldn’t it?). I even wore those puppies in the pool! Those guys soaked up water like a sponge. I’d rise out of the pool with a water-laden bulge in my neon blue dolphin-covered one piece suit.
Fast-forward to two years later. I’m working at my first job in an Italian restaurant. My period surprise ambushes and I must have forgotten to put those hateful little pads in my purse that evening. They’re not the easiest thing to carry around in your purse, you know? Do you know how embarrassing it is at 15 years old to have a gigantic maxi pad plop onto your feet when you reach for your wallet? DO YOU???
I scavenged the restaurant for a co-worker whom I knew would understand my situation.
There weren’t any. I worked with a bunch of sassy young women who read Seventeen- the official magazine of tampons.
I was screwed. I was at that point where I was going to have to get creative with whatever was lying around the restaurant. Luckily, Rachel walked in as I was about to stick wax paper in my underwear.
Rachel was cool. Her and I got each other. She didn’t give me a perpetual “duh” look while smacking her gum like the others.
“Oh my God, Rachel! I just got my period. Do you have anything? You know like a tampon or maybe a maxi pad.”
“Only a tampon bigger than my boyfriend’s penis.” (Amendment- Rachel says that this is not exactly how the exchange went down, but I’m going to leave it. This is how I remember it. I’m sorry, Rachel.)
Exactly what I wanted to hear.
My mind flashed to later in the evening, a customer commenting on the “spaghetti sauce” on the crotch of my pants and realized I had no choice. It was either the super jumbo tampon or a taking the chance on a bunch of wadded up toilet paper in my underwear for the rest of the evening (and we all know how that will end).
I took the crude object from her hand and locked myself in the bathroom.
I carefully peeled back the paper like a popsicle stick.
What the hell is this!?
I pulled the tampon from the cardboard and put it in between my legs like a plug.
Surely this thing can’t go ALL the way inside!
So, I work for the rest of the evening with a tampon bigger than someone’s boyfriend’s dick sticking half-way out of my vagina. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I was walking around like someone stuck a stick up my ass.
As I walked in to the house later that evening to pull the shrapnel from my battered cootch, my mother stopped me in my tracks.
“Are you ok? What’s wrong?”
“Ma, I had to use a tampon tonight and I don’t think I did it right.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, I only stuck it in only half-way. It hurts!”
She could barely contain her laughter.
Ooohhhh, that feels so much better.
That night, as I forced myself to lie on my side so I wouldn’t period all over my bed, I thought about the tampon.
If I used it right, my life would be so much easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about rolling over in my sleep. Better yet, I could swim without worrying about the pad floating up to the surface of the pool!
The next day, I took my tip money from the night before and bought myself “tampon lites” at the supermarket. Now knowing that I had to push the tampon ALL THE WAY UP, I pushed it as far is it could go.
Wow, it doesn’t hurt!
I felt liberated! I could walk and swim and sleep freely now! No more worrying about magic penises and “spaghetti sauce” on my pants. I WAS FREEEE!
I walked into the house strong and confident. This was the beginning of a new Lauren. Little did I know I had a long way to go.
It would take me another three years to learn about trimming the little caterpillars above my eyes and the beast that once partied with my maxi pads down below.
Looking back, I can’t be angry at my mother for not explaining these things to me. Did I endure ridicule and embarrassment because of it? Sometimes. Did it make me want to rip out my ovaries and bury them in the dirt? Maybe. But I did learn something priceless from it. A very valuable lesson that I will carry down to my children. Forget drugs and sex, talk to your daughters about the positive attributes of tampons. It will save them a lot of pain and heartache (and therapy).