A woman lies in bed covering her face

Family Health

My PMS is Bloody Real and It Affects My Parenting

Aug 6, 2019

White blinding rage.

My husband’s socks discarded on the floor fills me with nothing but white... blinding... rage.

I snatch them up and consider throwing them at his head. That is until I’m suddenly distracted by my daughter’s granola bar wrapper, carelessly flung NOT in the garbage where it belongs, but on the floor beside it.

These are the daily domestic irritations that I usually shrug off. But not today.

Oh no, I think to myself. It's coming. A shiver runs down my spine. So soon? Wasn’t it just here? How can it be back again already? My period is coming for me and there’s nothing to do but grab a chocolate croissant, load up on anti-inflammatories and tell my family to run for cover.

People don’t like to talk about periods, but I do. I like to talk about them a lot because mine has a big impact on me. I think we should all talk about them more because the effects can be profound. Especially for moms.

My trip down this hormonal highway started when I was 13, when I got my first period on a family vacation. As soon as I realized what was happening to my newly-turned-teen body, I curled up into the fetal position with surprisingly painful cramps. My mom gently told me that I might experience this every month, and sometimes even mid-month.

I didn’t want to believe her, but it turned out to be more than true. Soon I found myself having to take time off school — and eventually work — because of the pain and nausea I experienced each month. It wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful disorder where the tissue that lines the uterus  grows outside of it causing pain and sometimes infertility. Luckily with the help of a prescription and surgeries, I’ve been able to manage the condition.

But you could say that parenting a pre-teen has interrupted my flow. As much as I hate to admit it, PMS affects my mood and personality. And because I feel like society dictates that I have to "be nice" and "be normal" while I’m out in the real world, at home I let my guard down. Sometimes, I become one mother of a menstruating monster.

As the parent of a girl at the tender age of 12, it’s important for me to project calm. Whether I’m telling her to tidy her room, put away her phone or if we’re negotiating her latest request to her dye hair green, I need to keep my cool. It helps me diffuse emotionally fraught scenes — and more importantly, it helps model patience and self-control to my kid.

And it works great! Most of the time. But every 28 days, my best intentions fly out the window. As much as I try to be chill, my hormones take over. I’m sleepy, grouchy, irritable, weepy, anti-social, sad and oh so damned hungry. I hate that I’m prone to my lose my temper with my kid. Even more, I don’t want to make her fear this aspect of womanhood.

I know I should be painting a positive picture of menstruation for my girl. Parenting websites tell me I should refer this time of the month as a wondrous and natural experience that all women share. But action speaks louder than words, and my daughter is smart enough to see it isn’t always quite so magical. I’m not exactly running along a beach in white yoga pants with outstretched arms each month. 

Maybe women don’t talk about their periods more because some question if PMS is real. We’re worried that saying something makes us seem inferior or weak. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. But not talking about ultimately leaves us feeling isolated and alone. And that’s a bloody shame.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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