MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY!
‘Mom, kuch daag acche hote hain’ !! This is what my 11 year old son sheepishly tells me every time I give a disgruntled look at his stained clothes with all sorts of colors and patterns of dirt and mud and chocolate on them. And all this is done without trying too hard. He is packed off to school and after-school activities in prim and proper clothes but once he returns, everything about him ( including his clothes) remind me of a Dog’s Day Out , happily soaking in the sun, rain and mud with all the love and no stress in this world ! And then, Mom and Surf Excel zindabad!! The tag-line of this ad has clearly made its impact on my son and he sincerely believes that Surf Excel has some magic component that will make all the stains vanish in thin air and the clothes will be as sparkling as ever!
Every time I listen to this ad, I am always reminded of the stains that have come on my clothes during menstrual cycle and how stressed I used to be during my teens , especially a couple of years after the onset of periods when I was constantly behind my back and getting back home spotless was the achievement of the day . This phobia continued for few more years and then with all the advancements and enhancements made by FMCG companies, all my worries and fears of were whisked away and I was ‘Whisper’ing away to glory . The fear of the ‘Daag’ was getting lesser by the day and the confidence and ability to deal with menstrual issues was getting better. I didn’t bother much about what to do, what not to do, whether to wear white or not and in which position to sleep in? And thankfully , my parents were extremely liberal and my sister and I never had to conform to any norms about not visiting the temple during ‘those days’ of the month, or eating only vegetarian food or not entering the kitchen and so on. We were happy, free souls and only fretted at times, when we had to go on family vacations and we were sure we would be hit by storm. Apart from that, nothing else affected us and our temperament. Yes, I did go through the regular hormonal imbalance issues that differs for every woman and the onset of periods was a constant reminder to me that ‘Aal is well’
Since the last couple of years, ever since my son turned 9 ,I have been very keen to explain to him in detail about the entire menstruation process and have all his questions answered so that he is well oriented before all the ads and internet information clutter his mind with all sorts of messaging. But I procrastinated and thought will do it when the time is ‘right’, not knowing when will be the right time. Last year, he saw a sanitary napkin lying abandoned in the washroom and came out frantically asking me ‘Mom, why do you wear diapers’? And ‘I have seen you buying those diapers every month at a chemist’s shop’. I was so embarrassed and tried to recover from it, helplessly seeking the right choice of words to explain this all. But, very foolishly, I simply turned around and told him ‘They are not diapers, they are something else that only women use and will explain it to you once your exams get over’. He gave me one wide look and then said ‘Whatever …..’ with the attitude of a superstar.
The exams got over, my son and I were celebrating our happiness and freedom from exams and projects and I happily forgot to educate him about this topic. I was very careful not to keep the sanitary napkins loitering around the washrooms like my prized possession and was glad that I had nailed it ! But, sometime back, during one of my painful and heavy flushes at night, the stains had arrived on my pjyamas and I hadn’t noticed it all . I was up and running in the kitchen, gearing up for some tea time with my boys and then my son shrieks loudly ‘Mom, there’s blood on your pyjamas!!!’ Those words coming from his mouth felt like he had seen a ghost in broad daylight and was about to pass out. I completely froze for few seconds, then quickly turned around to double check, gained my composure and went up to him and very sheepishly said ‘Kuch daag acche hote hain’ ! He obviously was still reeling under the stain attack and didn’t care much for the entertainment at that point of time. Later, I made him sit on my lap and explained everything to him in great detail, struggling for the right aids and words at times to ensure he is well educated on this topic and free to come back and discuss it any as many times with me , who is the best SME (Subject Matter Expert) on this topic. There is no taboo on this subject and he is equipped to empathize with me on a topic that is so special to me and there’s more to come as I get older and ready to embrace men-o-pause.
I am not very sure whether he has completely understood this, but he sure knows that it’s a good thing that his mom too wears diapers and he also knows that all that she needs during those ‘days’ of the month is a hot cuppa tea, chocolates and large doses of tender loving care . Period!
You’ve met Rachana Gupta on The Wonder Women World before. Rachana is a Happiness Coach who enables and empowers women to value their happiness over everything else. She recently published her debut book called “Happiness Ki Khoj”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and need not reflect those of The Wonder Women World.