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Why I Use My Period as an Excuse

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Photograph by Twenty20

The other day, I told my daughter to put her shoes on. “It’s time for school,” I said.

She looked at me with the most pathetic puppy dog eyes and replied, “I can’t, Mommy. I bleeding.”

At first, my heart rate ticked up a bit as I swiftly examined her for a wound. And then it hit me. She wasn’t bleeding, she was repeating the same excuse I had used all weekend.

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You see, I have endometriosis. It’s the reason I’ll never actually be pregnant, and the condition that has resulted in five major abdominal surgeries for me over the years. Since my last surgery, nearly four years ago now, the symptoms have actually been pretty under control for me. I rarely experience pain like I used to. But ... my periods still suck. When that time of the month rolls around, I just want to lie in bed with a heating pad and sleep.

Of course, I’m a single mom to a preschooler—so that’s not really an option. But when my period hits on a weekend, with no daycare relief in sight, we have gotten into the habit of making those lazy days. They're the kind of days where it’s possible I repeatedly tell my daughter, “We can’t today, honey. Mommy’s bleeding.”

Maybe, just maybe, our ancestors had the right idea when they sent women on their periods to their caves.

I never meant to be so graphic with this excuse. It started with me just telling her I had an owie in my tummy, or that I didn’t feel well. But then, as kids often do, she followed me into the bathroom one day and was witness to the carnage.

So “Mommy’s bleeding” kind of became my go-to.

“We can’t go for a walk today. Mommy’s bleeding.”

“I’m sorry, baby, no zoo. Mommy’s bleeding.”

“No, let’s not wrestle right now. Mommy’s bleeding.”

For the record, I pride myself on being an active and involved mom the vast majority of the month. We are always on the go, always doing something.

But those first few days of my period? My girl gets movie days. Like, long movie days.

Because mommy’s bleeding.

I had a doctor tell me once that back in the day, when women got their periods, they were sent to a cave to be by themselves and bleed. I’m sure there is something demoralizing or sexist about that. But the truth? I kind of wish I could hide out in a cave those first few days myself.

I don’t think I would hate it.

Of course, the person who loses the most when my period hits is my daughter. I’m a single parent, which means there is no one else to take over and entertain her. She really does get the short end of the stick. And I really do feel bad.

But also … mommy’s bleeding. And if ever there was a valid excuse to stay in bed all day with the heating pad and entertain your child with an array of movie options, that has to be it, right?

Come to think of it, don’t we all kind of just need those breaks from time to time? I mean, being a mom is tough! And aren’t we all forever just running from one thing to the next with our kids?

Sure, I have endometriosis. It’s a valid excuse. But maybe, just maybe, our ancestors had the right idea when they sent women on their periods to their caves. And maybe your period is a valid enough excuse to hibernate as well.

I can tell you from experience, your kids will survive. Sometimes I even think mine is a bit excited for the downtime. At no other point does she ever get to watch "Despicable Me" on repeat or to color in mommy’s bed. And I may or may not let her have unlimited popcorn on period days. Because popcorn is easy and .... mommy’s bleeding.

So the next time you wake up on a weekend needing a break, maybe just embrace the excuse.

“Mommy’s bleeding.”

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Even if it’s not true this weekend, it will probably be true some other weekend when you’re off running somewhere with your kids. So go ahead. Steal it now. I don’t care. In fact, I think you’ve earned it.

Just make sure they don’t start repeating it themselves. Because that could be an awkward thing to have to explain at daycare drop-off.

Trust me, I know.

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