Yvonne flopped back into the pillows, eyes closing before her head met the feathers, a groan escaping as she laid her hands on her belly. What the hell was this, ‘perimenopause’ (whatever that meant) or fibroids in her uterus? These cramps were like something from a Stephen King novel–she hurt from her lower ribs to her knees.
She’d crept from the dinner table and gone into her room without making any announcements, but that hadn’t tricked her small sons—they tracked her down in the darkened bedroom, their mommy-radar on full strength after she’d been at work all day.
“I’m going to use your bathroom, Mommy!” said her eight year old, turning on the light and bouncing on the bed before leaping off the other side and going to pee on her toilet seat.
She didn’t even bother to voice the question; no logical answer existed. The sound of her son’s voice from around the corner pulled her from her pain-induced stupor.
Shit. Tired, headache, cramps, and now she has to explain her period to her second grader?
She ignored his question, hoping his short attention span would work in her favor for once. Fat chance. His voice came louder as he came around the corner.
“Mommy, what are those little yellow packages on the back of your toilet?”
She cracked open one eye. “They’re for Mommies.” She knew it was a lame answer that was not likely to appease her inquisitive child, but it was all she had.
A piping voice from the other room made her cringe and sink deeper into the pillows; her five-year old was now in on the action.
“WHAT little yellow packages, Avery?”
Here was a boy that couldn’t hear when you asked him to pick up his shoes, or flush the toilet, or turn off a light after leaving a room, but he had heard his brother’s question through the walls?
He came running into the room, looking from Yvonne to his brother.
“What little yellow packages?”
“But what are they for?” Avery asked, ignoring his sibling and hopping up onto the bed again, making the whole frame shake.
“WHAT little yellow packages?” Kurtus asked again, his face barely above the level of the bed.
“Mommies need them sometimes.” Again, she knew she was just putting off the inevitable, but Gods, was she really expected to be super-mom: ignore raging 40-something woman cramps, work all day, come home and cook dinner, help with homework, then explain menstruation? Didn’t the schools teach that in fifth grade? Couldn’t he wait three more years?
“WHAT little yellow packages, Avery?”
That was it. She couldn’t do it. Yvonne threw an arm over her eyes.
“Go ask your father!”
The boys were silent for only a beat, then both dashed out of the room, shouting to Dale who sat on the sofa, probably playing with his new phone.
“Daddy. Daddy! What are those little yellow things on the back of the toilet?”
Yvonne could hear the surprise in her husband’s voice, and possibly panic.
“The little yellow things?”
“YES!” Avery’s voice was insistent.
“Well…they…I mean…go ask your mother.”
Two voices replied in unison, “She told us to ask you!”
Yvonne smiled. Let’s see how he handled it. He was in the medical profession after all; it wasn’t too much to ask to have him explain to the boys, was it?
She listened as he gave a very precise and clinical description of the menstrual process, with the boys posing questions now and then. He did better than she could have done—at least for sons. Maybe if it had been daughters asking it would have been different. In any case, the mystery of the little yellow packages was solved.
Both boys came trailing back into the bedroom. Her oldest looked at her in what might have been horror, as though he’d just been read that Stephen King novel. But her youngest just looked sad. He came to the bed and stroked her arm.
“Every month? Poor Mommy!” He stood on tip-toe and gave her a kiss, leaving a trail of wetness on her cheek and the whiff of peanut butter in the air.
Ah. Maybe the pain was worth it after all.