My kids were young when I explained PMS to them. They were 9, 7 and 6 to be exact. I had raging PMS and we were in the car together for over an hour, which can be a dangerous combination. I had a short fuse that morning, and I knew it.
I had lost it too many times, I was wrong, I was cramping, I was unreasonable, I was emotional, I wanted to eat a pan of brownies, and I was bloated—all of it, the whole nine.
So on our way to pick up a family member, who would accompany us for lunch on what was supposed to be a beautiful Saturday, I apologized to them. I then decided to explain to them a bit about PMS and how some women have a hard time with it. I told them sometimes we get hungry, crabby, or very sad and that PMS can make our moods more intense.
Everyone was quiet. Everyone accepted my apologies. I felt like mother of the year. The slate was wiped clean, and we could move forward with our dreamy Saturday.
And we did. We met our guest with open arms, caught up by the ocean in a beautiful city, and headed to lunch where our delicious day came to a screeching halt. As we sat down to lunch, my son was tipping back in his chair, playing with his knife, and blowing the wrapper off his straw across the restaurant. After telling him to stop doing that and use his manners—for the third time—he said (very loudly) something that made me see red (fuck, actually I think I saw purple—believe me, it’s a thing).
“You are just mad at everything I am doing because you have your period!” he yelled back.
The music stopped. Everything starting moving in slow motion. Women’s eyes bulged; men just looked at the floor. The waitresses tripped trying to get away from our table as fast as she could. Our lunch guest couldn’t watch. She literally turned her head to look away so fast, but due to her position at the table, she had nowhere else to look, so she sat there with her nose pressed up against the wall, literally.
I excused myself of course. When you see purple, you are in a very, very bad place and should not be in the presence of young children, or anybody else for that matter.
Since that day, I have had some things to say to both of my sons:
1. PMS is real.
My PMS is real, and most women do suffer some symptoms. I try hard not to use it as an excuse for my behavior, but sometimes I do. Is it fair? No, it’s not. If your father walked in the door after work and acted like the offspring of the Incredible Hulk and Cookie Monster, I would say something to him about it. I would talk to my girlfriends and complain behind his back about it. It is all fine and good if you need to complain about my (very legit) mood swings, but do it in a place where I am not—like at least five miles away.
2. If you are going to mention that it bothers you, proceed with caution.
Do I think shouting it from a rooftop (or a restaurant table) is OK? No, of course I don’t. I want you to treat it like anything else that can be a sensitive subject, with compassion. I want you to be gentle with how you approach it. I want you to be educated about many women-related things because someday you may have a wife and then a daughter.
There is a way to do this. My suggestion is to calmly explain how and why this bothers you. Following it up by leaving a bag of Doritos on the counter and running away is advised but not totally necessary. Also, it is never OK under any circumstances to utter phrases like, “on the rag,” “riding the cotton pony,” or “bitch witchy week.” No, just no.
3. Pampering would be nice.
You know how mom likes to take care of you when you are sick? You see how your father can’t get up and get anything when he has a cold? We all like to be taken care of when we are not feeling delicious. It is too bad that a women’s uterus contracts every month, therefore putting tremendous pressure on the rest of her pelvic area, but this is the way it goes. A little pampering would be nice. Nothing too strenuous is asked of you, just a little chocolate and maybe a foot rub.
4. Don’t be a dickweed about it.
The biggest thing to remember when it comes to PMS is don’t be a dickweed about it. Talk about it with the woman in your life or don’t and whether or not you pamper her is up to you. Just don’t ever be a dickweed. It probably won’t end in your favor.
I realize this doesn’t seem fair and that you may have to put up with mood swings, cravings, and tears once a month. But a woman did give you life, and with all due respect, try to imagine passing a grapefruit through your penis hole, then you can get back to me on the fairness factor.