Tag Archives: parenting

How to Discuss Menstruation With Your Child

by DeAnna L’am

“This is my Moon Flow,” I said to Ellah, who was about 4 at the time, when she saw me changing a pad. I never saw my Mom changing pads, and hence committed to not hiding my natural flow from my daughter. Without my flow, my girl would not have been born… How could this be anything but a source of joy in my ability to give birth? An ability she will one day share!

“All women flow with the moon,” I added, “and you, too, will flow when you become a woman.” Ellah smiled with the promise, and at four years of age this was enough. I didn’t refer to the flow as “blood” until much later, since I didn’t want Ellah to associate it with an “Ouwy.” The purpose with young children, both girls and boys, is to introduce, and talk about, this natural bodily function in the same neutral way as you do when talking about eating. Gradually, as the child matures, it is good to tie the flow to its purpose, which is a woman’s ability to give life.

If you find that you have some charge about your menstruation (such as physical or emotional pain) it is best not to introduce the subject to your child until you work through your difficulty and gain some balance for yourself.

Generally, it is best not to bombard children with information, but to wait for their questions. When Ellah was about seven, she asked me where does the Moon Flow come from? My answer was inspired by the Waldorf educational approach, and I explained that the Moon Flow is “Mom’s Nest.”

“Mommy’s Nest???” she asked in amazement.

“Yes,” I said. “When a Mama bird prepares for a baby bird to be born, she makes a nest. She flies in the forest and collects leaves, feathers, boughs, branches, and bits of fluff, and she weaves a nest for the baby bird to comfortably lie in.”

“Well…” I continued, “it’s the same with me. And with all women! Every month a woman’s body prepares a nest in her tummy, where a baby can grow. Her wise body gathers tissue and blood from inside her, and makes a warm and comfortable nest. Then, if no baby starts to grow, there is no need for the nest. So Mamma’s wise body sends the nest out in a big whoosh. That’s why the flow is red, because it’s made of all the good, nourishing blood that was ready to help the baby grow.”

“Every month,” I shared with my daughter, “I thank my body for being such a miracle, and for knowing how to make a baby grow inside… I also thank it for the wisdom of letting go of the nest, when I don’t need it…” Ellah was fully satisfied. She had a clear picture in her mind, and the Moon Flow made sense to her.

Telling your child a story of this nature doesn’t only encapsulate the physical facts associated with menstruation. It allows you to start instilling the awe, which our bodies deserve for their amazing abilities. Beyond that, you are actively bucking the cultural current of taboo and shame around menstruation. You are raising a girl or a boy who will have a different narrative with which to counter the cultural beliefs when they encounter them.

barAbout the Author:

DeAnna-Sacramento-WEBDeAnna L’am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is the author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s Guide to Getting Your Period’. She is the founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™ . She is the founder of Red Tents in Every Neighborhood.

A pioneer in Menstrual Empowerment, DeAnna has been transforming lives around the world for over 20 years, by helping women & girls love themselves unconditionally!  She teaches women how to dissolve PMS symptoms; draw strength from their cycle (rather than be at its mercy); model self-acceptance, self-care, and self-esteem to their daughters; and hold Red Tents in their communities. Visit DeAnna at: www.deannalam.com

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DeAnna L’am is excited to announce…

2nd Annual Red Tents In Every Neighborhood ~ Global Summit:

OUR DAUGHTERS, OURSELVES

 “A Mother-Daughter Interview in the Red Tent”
a New Video by Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost  and Teresa Moorehouse will be featured during the Summit.

What messages did your mother give you about being a Woman?

What messages are you offering your daughter, or son, about being a Woman?

What legacy would you like to pass to Today’s Girls?

About the Red Tent World Summit:

Join me to listen to Womb Wisdom, to Honor Our Mothers, Ourselves, and Today’s Girls! Get Inspired by Leading Visionary Women from Around the World: U.S.A, Spain, Austria, Italy, France, Ireland, India, Mexico, Chile, and New Zealand, with Special Guest – MARIANNE WILLIAMSON!

Our FREE Global Summit will air February 1-28,

and you can watch it from the comfort of your home!

join-the-telesummit

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Filed under ageing, and Hormone Cycle, blood, coming of age, daughter, DeAnna L'am, growing up, menstruation, moon, mooncycle, moontime, mother, motherhood, parenting, red tent, Reproductive Health, womb

Red Tent Communities of Chicago: Tending to Home

by Jayleigh Lewis

Sometimes, you don’t have to travel far to find your tribe. Sometimes, a wealth of community, sisterhood, and inspiring conversation finds you right where you are. Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, had this experience last month (July 2014) when she attended two Red Tent events in her current home city of Chicago.

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The first event was a combination film screening and Red Tent, co-facilitated by Dr. Isadora and local life coach and energy worker Andrea Friedmann. Andrea, a vibrant Colombian-American woman who strongly supports women’s community and owns a coaching business called Vibrations Coaching, met Dr. Isadora initially through Linda Conroy of the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference. It was at their first meeting that the idea to host an event together in the Chicago area was born. The vision became manifest on July 20, when an intimate, multi-generational group of women gathered at Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston, surrounded by the red fabric of Dr. Isadora’s traveling Red Tent.

After watching the film, the women participated in activities led by Andrea, including a talking circle and a “soul journey,” which Dr. Isadora described as an adventurous guided meditation, the purpose of which was to connect women with their souls and encourage them to make discoveries about the deepest parts of themselves. Dr. Isadora witnessed a rich diversity of personal stories emerging from the group as women spoke about their feelings and experiences.

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One woman, in response to a question posed in the talking circle—what story from the film did you relate to?—shared the resonance she felt with the woman who spoke onscreen about the complicated emotions that arise from knowing she won’t have children. She could relate, as she is coming to terms with knowing she won’t have grandchildren.

Many women in the room spoke about wanting local community and not having it. Dr. Isadora and her mother, who was in attendance at the gathering, echoed this theme. Dr. Isadora spoke about wanting to have more friends in the area who are “real”—people who can be honest and vulnerable about the experiences and challenges they are moving through and who won’t just tell her they’re “fine” when she asks how they are. Her mother, who is making plans to move her art studio to the Chicago area, said that she wants to spend more time around women like those who were in the room. All seemed to share a longing for community whose roots run deep, and when one woman proposed hosting a local Red Tent, everyone said they would come.

In another Chicago suburb (Berwyn), Dr. Isadora attended another local Red Tent gathering on July 27. Led by Celena Chavez, co-host of the Red Tent at the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, this community is relatively new, having been started by Celena after she recently moved to the area. Dr. Isadora described the gathering as relaxing and peaceful; she really appreciated being able to attend a Red Tent that she didn’t have to create!

Many women present had young children with them. One woman who was seven months pregnant spoke with Dr. Isadora about how the latter overcame her fear of pregnancy but is still feeling into what it means to enter this life stage, in anticipation of eventually having her own children. Celena, a mother of young children herself, shared about her practice as a midwife who works with placentas. Some of the children present received astrology readings from Dr. Isadora, containing information about the unique challenges and life lessons each was born with—invaluable for their mothers’ understanding of how to support them.

In keeping with this Red Tent’s theme for July, “Moon in Leo,” women spoke about how they, like the archetypal lion, symbol of the sun, are shining in their lives, and how they want to shine even more brightly. Intuitive ways of knowing were honored as women shared card readings with each other, using angel cards and mother wisdom cards. The archangel card Dr. Isadora drew reminded her of the importance of bringing more humor into her life.

In the midst of her near-constant travel to attend Red Tent movie screenings and Red Tent-related events across the country, these two gatherings allowed Dr. Isadora to stay close to home and connect deeply with local women. She plans to continue this practice!

What stories, experiences, and gifts are you exchanging or do you want to exchange with the women in your geographical community? How are you growing relationships with deep roots?

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, Jayleigh Lewis, parenting, recent screenings, red tent, red tent film, red tent movie, women's stories

Teacher-Mom

by Prof. Janet C. Mendoza Stickmon,

On paper and voicemails, I identify as a professor.  Professional interactions–a professor.  In the classroom–a professor.  I’ve found that identifying as such is so important for us as people of color who have students who have never had a professor of color…it becomes important to recognize our title while at the same time not turning it into such a big deal that the title alienates me from my students.  This is tricky. In everyday speech, I speak of myself simply as a teacher.  Teaching is one of the most selfless, prophetic professions one could ever undertake. I put it up there with the nurse, the doctor, the therapist, the minister, the curandera, the babaylan, the griot, and other healers…like crossing guards, ice cream truck drivers, and tow truck drivers. Any qualities I claim to embody as a professor is because of the people that I have emulated.  Teachers, priests, nuns, indigenous healers, counselors, homeless men and women, the anonymous fellow passenger sitting next to me on a plane, friends, family, and other loved ones have all had a hand in my development as a human being and consequently as  a teacher.  If I am ever complimented on my teaching, I have no choice but to remember that I am a direct reflection of the loving people I have come in contact with throughout my life.  When my mentors have come out to support me, I learned surprisingly that my success was their triumph. My beauty was their splendor.  My happiness, their rapture.

Teachers have the potential to be healers.  Not saviors. Not omnipotent leaders.  But humble healers who know that whatever liberatory catharsis is experienced by our students as a result of our teaching, that this is because we are instruments of a greater power. The gifts we share with those we care most deeply for are bestowed upon us by the Divine. This is a tremendous responsibility and one must not intellectualize it too much otherwise one might miss the beauty of it, the mystery of it and collapse from the enormity of it.  There are things that I do in the classroom that I cannot take credit for.  Like the perfect thought that comes at the perfect moment… and I am left surprised by my own words. The impact we have on others, even on the days we don’t feel good about ourselves, is fascinating to me.  Such things can only be explained by the Divine.  It is vital to call upon the universe, God, the gods, the ancestors, all to reconcile the interstices that bind our greatest expectations to our greatest disappointments; that bind our greatest lack of understanding to our greatest revelations.

When my daughter was born, this identity as teacher/professor was tested. Hyacinth was born on March 26, 2008. I was with her for 5 months before I returned to work.  And when I stepped foot into the classroom, I didn’t feel like a professor or a teacher.  I felt like I had never taught before.  I was lost in my own classroom.  I stumbled over my words.  My old lesson plans seemed outdated and I felt clumsy trying to teach from them.  I was painfully ashamed and considered ending my career as a teacher.  I couldn’t figure out what had happened to me.  I thought that it had something to do with using baby talk for five months straight.  But I felt it was much more than that.

In the past when I’ve been in these awkward, painful transitional phases, I knew this signaled a new exciting beginning. So I waited and rode the wave. Eventually, it occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly expect myself to be the same person, the same teacher, after bringing a life into the world.  I had changed permanently, and what was painful for me in that moment, I imagine runs parallel to the trauma Hyacinth felt when she was born.  Perhaps, the Goddess is in the transition phase right now, preparing to give birth to a new me.  And I need to get out of my own way to let that birth happen.

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Filed under career, daughter, growing up, mother, parenting, story, transition