"Do You Have A Tampon?": In Service of Strangers

By Caroline Etnier Thompson, Renaissance Woman, Mainer & New Mama

I squeezed in a rare gym workout today while my daughter napped. Quick cardio, some weights, not going into the pool because I can't quite master the breathing part of the crawl...the normal. As I walked back into the locker room, another woman approached the door at the same time I did. Cue: needless apologies on both sides. She went ahead of me and ended up in the exact spot where my locker was. Cue: more apologies, awkward laughter and me promising to retrieve my things quickly.

But then I did something both brave and embarrassing...I asked her for a tampon. And just like that the awkward, overly polite and apologetic spell was broken. “I don’t have one on me, but my desk is right outside!” she said. Before I could protest, she left and was back a second later with three tampons in hand. Before I knew it, we were laughing about how difficult pregnancy was, grumbling about the women who say it’s easy and magical, talking about the stresses of new motherhood, and laughing—a lot. I left the locker room feeling happy and refreshed and not worried about bleeding.

The magic of womanhood is that this little interaction is completely commonplace. With just the smallest amount of vulnerability, a perfect stranger can quickly become a confidante. Needing a pad or tampon (or both with duets™ if you're in the know), having an emotional moment in a restroom, feeling insecure about any number of things. These moments are a call to arms, and we jump into service for each other readily and happily. While perhaps at times we are overly polite and feel the need to apologize for our very existence, we also have each other to be our champions. Maybe it's the shared experience of bleeding and cramping every month that allows us to bond so easily. But whatever it is, that connection is a joy and a privilege.
So, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the woman at the gym (again, because you know I said it like five times when I was actually with her) and thank you to all the women who have helped a stranger in need. I promise to keep an ear, a compliment and a tampon on hand in case anyone is ever in need.
← Previous Post Receiving Yourself As You Are Next Post → Q & A With Dr. Paola: "Should I be washing my vagina?!"