I've just finished my menstrual cycle for the month.
Does that make you squeamish?
Well, consider that your mother once missed a menstrual cycle and, because of it, you were created. Isn't that fantastic?
No, actually, it’s really not. The knowledge that, once a month (or thereabouts) I'm going to bleed from an orifice for a minimum of five days and there is nothing I can do about it (aside from using a particular kind of contraceptive or undergoing quite hectic surgery) is a weight.
That it'll be accompanied by crippling pain, a foggy brain and a less-than-ideal frame of mind is, just well, irritating.
But I can't be irritated, or freely express that I'm feeling like I ate five bricks and was driven over by a wayward truck. Why? Because I have a daughter and, I have told her the story of the birds and the bees. So, she knows.
And she knows that what I experience when my ovaries do their monthly tango, she will experience too one day.
I want my kid to have a positive attitude towards menstruating. I want her to be proud when it happens, and not to feel that awkward shame that myself and so many other girls felt when we "started".
Heck, I want her to be EXCITED about growing up. I don’t want her to fear it or, worse, loathe it. It’s futile to do so and it makes the whole process worse for everyone, especially the person doing the growing up.
And if I want her to be excited for all the physical changes that come along with growing up for a girl, I can’t bear the idea that I’ll be ruining it for her by bursting into tears and wanting to lie down on the carpet in the foetal position – which is actually, really, what I want to do when my period hits.
But she does need to know the truth.
That, in all likelihood, at some point in her life, she’ll glance at the calendar and think “ah hell, that’s not a tummy ache, it’s a period pain” or she’ll wake up feeling murderous one morning and know that’s it just her body doing its cycle, and not because she harbours internal axe-wielding tendencies.
I've tried to find the middle ground with cheerful phrases like “yes, it sucks, but that’s why medical science gave us painkillers!” and “…at least it’s not the whole month that I feel like poop!” but, really, this is one thing I can’t save her from.
At some point, in what I hope will be a far and distant future, she’ll come to me, curl up into my bed and ask for tea and a cuddle, and I’ll know she’s having a horrible time of it. And that’s okay – we all do, at some point. Until then, though, I’ll be wavering between silently suffering and trying to be comfortably kind about the future that awaits her.
It is a mother’s instinct to want to save their children from pain, and protect them for a world that holds the potential to harm them. But when you know the pain comes from within their very own selves, you’re left breathless and hoping that their bodies will be kind to them as they mature.
Much like the caterpillar has no idea it’s about to become a butterfly, I hope my caterpillar knows that the wings she gets will be beautiful.
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