Continuing with the topic of milestones that Patrick’s article looked at in last week’s article, we asked Erica Hunt, one of our Emerging Generation staff members, to write up her thoughts on the topic. We’re excited to share what she wrote with this week’s article – Enjoy!
By Erica Hunt
Sometimes our big moments of life happen against a backdrop that suits the occasion. My baptism, for example, was on a beautiful summer day in a gorgeous outdoor setting with family all around. I learned to ride a bike along a picturesque sidewalk with friends and siblings cheering me on from each side. The physical settings of these life events enhance the memories and add layers of nostalgia and comfort.
Not all life events can be this fortunate. Sometimes the landscape is more like a photo-bomb than an invited guest. It doesn’t change the significance of the event, but it doesn’t add value either, and kind of leaves a bitter aftertaste. This is the scenario of my physical passage into womanhood.
It was a bathroom stall in the Apache Mall in my hometown of Rochester, MN, about a month before school started in 1986. The most vivid detail of the scene? The white shorts I was wearing; an unfortunate wardrobe choice for this particular day. With me were my mom, my aunt visiting from Texas and her super cute son, my cousin, who I had recently learned was off limits when it came to romance. My older female cousin kindly, yet firmly filled me in on the taboos of cousin dating. She also taught me how to French braid and win at Monopoly.
She, along with many other women throughout my adolescence, modeled and taught me some of life’s important lessons about growing up. I was (and still am) grateful for them and the ways they helped ease the bumpiness of my teen years.
As a mother of three daughters, I have sought to do the same. When it came to their passage into womanhood, I wanted to take a more celebratory angle. Sure, it is a hassle, embarrassing, and terribly uncomfortable to have your period in middle and high school (and beyond, let’s be honest), but it is also an amazing signal that our bodies are working in just the way God designed. Even if my daughters got it for the first time in the equivalent of the Apache Mall bathroom stall with a cute boy waiting outside, I wanted to frame the experience as one of support, encouragement and solidarity. Something they could appreciate in hindsight, if not in the moment.
So, I threw a “Welcome to Womanhood” party for each of them. The invited guests were women that have known and supported our girls in meaningful ways for a long time. Family, friends, neighbors and former babysitters, all gathering together to say, “We’ve been there. We are here for you. We’re praying for you. You can count on us.” Each woman brought a single flower that, together, formed a bouquet of love and support for the girls to take home and remember. Many women wrote cards that have been put away into their “special boxes” with the other things they want to remember for a long time.
It felt awkward for them at first, having what they called a “period party.” But they also felt loved in a way I could have never expressed on my own. The depth and breadth of support they felt from their community of women translated into something powerfully grounding for them. Something they will need throughout their teenage years (and beyond, let’s be honest!).