Catching the tiger by the tail…

Our last baby has just reached her first birthday. An enormous milestone for us parents as much as our baby. We know she is our last because we took definite, final steps to ensure this.

The day after her birthday my most recent Amazon order arrived. In it was a book I had discovered… Red Moon: Understanding and using the creative, sexual and spiritual gifts of the menstrual cycle. I won’t be needing this for a while, I thought, and put it to one side.

Two days later my period came back.

So now I am at the beginning of a new phase of my life. Free for the first time from the worry of getting pregnant. Free from the wondering if we want any more children. Knowing that each moon will bring the light and dark of my soul. My creative surges and moody exhaustion. That the only babies I will be able to make now are the children of my creativity rather than my body. My nurturing self is mine alone. That is a very empowering thought. To have that clarity. And yet I am only approaching 31. So I know that I face another 10, maybe 20 years of periods. Unending, ceaseless cycles. Cramps and crankiness. And inappropriate tears and tantrums.
After 6 1/2 years with less than a year’s cycles, it will take some getting used to for me… not to mention my husband and family. Mounting the rollercoaster of my hormones once more, I cannot say I am without trepidation.

This is a little discussed subject. I remember reading in The Wise Wound the fact that there was no research anywhere on the impact of women’s cycles and PMT on children… and yet an effect there must be! We joke about women on the rag. Those around us suffer too, but we do not discuss it, or re-think family life at these times. They also see and feel the effects of our enhanced creativity, libido and need to retreat within. The whole family sails the seas of a mother’s cycles.

Which is where the book comes in. I want to deepen my work with my own cycle. Work that I started before I got pregnant for the first time. So that I work with myself and not against my own rhythm. So that I can catch the tiger by the tail and ride her with grace, wisdom and abandon.

My closest friend and I exchanged moon letters for a year on to explore our feelings, our cycles and the journey we were on.
Others have a moon lodge, a space where menstruating women can go for sanctuary. There they have a moon book where women record their insights to share with others.
Others journal or chart their cycle privately.
Other cultures in other times had the Red Tent. There are many red tent celebrations around the world now, some annually, some monthly.
Others have women’s groups…
How do you ride the tiger? How do you nurture and care for yourself and balance your family responsibilities at this time?

Wonderful resources:
Red Moon: Understanding and using the creative, sexual and spiritual gifts of the menstrual cycle
The Wise Wound
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
The Red Tent
Thirteen Moons and now also on Facebook

And check out Facebook for a wealth of wonderful Red Tent groups including:

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  1. Lou

    Thought provoking article – and very timely for me, as I am in a similar position to you having had my last child 22 months ago. My periods returned 5 cycles ago, having been erratic over the past 8 years due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. The alteration to my mood and outlook can be dramatic and this definately effects all relationships in our household. I have been thinking what I can do to minimise these effects and am definately going to take measures to minimise stress and busyness at this time. It would be great to find some way of changing my mindset to see this time as a positive experience – am going to check out your reading recommendations, thank you.

  2. Anonymous

    Hey Lucy, (Lorian writing here),

    And just when you have the periods figured out…you start peri-menopause. I am learning that my body is determined to do strange things, and I am determined to ignore it and get on with life.
    I admit, I must make concessions to it, such as: cutting out certain foods (that cause PAIN during hormonal times), taking naps, not over scheduling, and definitely not thinking too hard during these times.
    Truthfully, I’m looking forward to no more periods.

  3. melissa joanne
    melissa joanne03-14-2011

    Thought provoking indeed. I am embarrassed to say that I have never even given this issue a thought. It makes so much sense that we should work *with* our own bodily rhythms rather than simply viewing them as an inconvenience to manage, but I have never thought to do so! I’m so glad that you posted this! I’m still nursing quite frequently, so it has been 2 years since I have had cycles, but I am adding some of these resources to my list for when they return.

  4. Dreamingaloudnet

    Thank you all for joining in, and sharing your experiences.

    Melissa Joanne, Thanks for reminding me – I hadn’t mentioned that the reason I wasn’t expecting my period back any time soon was that I am breastfeeding on demand, around the clock – 5-10 times a night!

    @ Lorian, I think most of us do look forward to no more… I know I do! But I know that the change of life brings its own challenges too! I guess what we all need to be doing is living by our bodies wisdom as best we can, rather than resenting or ignoring the lessons that it brings us… which is often a challenge, more so because our lives and responsibilities are not organised around our cycles, but rather we around them…

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