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SHE'S HAVING HER PERIOD

Both my girls had their first period with me. Alone. Single dad. Awkward. If there was a mom around to jump in, I would have headed for the gym. But I’m glad I didn’t. I learned a lot about what it’s like to be a woman in the world by being there for them when this started.

 

We were at Wind River Ranch, a Christian dude ranch we go to every summer. My daughter was thirteen. I heard her crying from her bathroom, saying she was bleeding. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. I went and found moms at the ranch who took care of her all week. Good, loving women surrounded and cared for her all week. What a blessing.

 

When we got home, I went to the store, the feminine section. A complicated, expensive section: super, slim, maxi, super-duper maxi. Dear Lord. I asked a mom for help. I bought one of everything. 

 

When I got home and was walking up to the door, Elizabeth saw me and asked what I had in my two bags. I told her. I told her I knew two moms who could come by to help her. She walked to me, put her arms around me, and started crying. “You don’t think I’m gross and you still love me,” she sobbed.

 

It was one of the most humbling moments of my life as a dad and as a man.

 

Dad, she knows you know, and you are the last person she wants to talk to about it. You will have to go to her and in some moment of life, let her know, in your own words, that you understand how important, difficult, and life changing this is. And if you don't know, and most of us men really don't know, educate yourself. Do some research. Talk to your wife, or trusted women in your life. Ask what's it's like to be a woman and experience this, every single month. Ask her what it was like the first time she had her period. Ask her what her dad did, or what she wishes he had. 

 

Now I know more than I EVER thought I would know about periods. I can tell when they are about to start their period before they do. I've had many calls from the nurse's office at school, sometimes in tears because there's been an incident. Feel blessed if she trusts you with this call. You only need to say two things: "I'll be right there" (meaning stop what you are doing and be right there), and "What do you want me to bring?" 

DAD TIP ON YOUR DAUGHTERS' FIRST PERIOD: Don't let the first day of your daughter's first period be the first time you ever talk about it. If you hide from it, she will make up stories about you or herself. Like you don't care, you think she's gross, she thinks she's gross - get it out in the open. "Dad up" and be there for her. If you let her, she will lean on you. Celebrate the change - she won't forget it. 

 

I'm glad I got the opportunity to be there for Elizabeth and Rachel in this way, even though I admit it was forced on me. You, reading this - be a volunteer. It seems a shame that I waited so many years to understand what this part of a woman's life is really like, sort of, and it's made me appreciate women and my daughters even more. 

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YOUR NEW NORMAL

One day you are going to look up and it’s going to hit you: your little girl is not your little girl anymore. It will surprise you. When did that happen? Hips, breasts, hormones, moods, boys.The teen years, the best years of parenting….said no parent ever.

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BOUNDARIES 

She is pushing back against you and your rules as she grows into her own. She is supposed to be doing this. It’s normal.  It is part of the process of her becoming independent from you and moving into the world on her own. She’s not your little girl anymore.

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SHUT UP AND LISTEN

It’s been a three year journey since I found Elizabeth on the floor of her bathroom that morning. She’s better now. She still has struggles, but she is better. We talk about important things now, the real stories. It wasn’t my fault she attempted suicide, but why  didn’t I know how desperate she was? I wasn’t listening closely enough. 

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