By: Sandy Churchill
People discuss the life changes of marriage and parenting—tots to teens to college—with candid advice and honesty, but one phase seems to hush up the commentary like a dark abyss straight out of a Lord of the Rings novel: menopause.
I am stunned at how little is shared on this life phase, and it remains near-taboo when it comes to symptomatic advice and warning.
Case in point: at a recent check-up, a nurse told me simply, “you want to kill everybody, right?”
Now, of course she wasn’t being literal, but she wasn’t far off the mark when it comes to the emotional rollercoaster of menopause. It can rob not only mom—but dad, and the rest of the family—from a predictable, ongoing sense of peace. How did I not see this coming?
Truthfully, I think PMS is far preferable to menopause because at least that can be marked with a gentle warning on the calendar. But this? No warning at all? Hot. Cold. Happy. Furious. Harried. Drained. Like New England weather—don’t get used to it, because it all changes by the moment.
So beneath the surface of our hopping household is this other-worldly kind of change—the meno-monster that reigns supreme, like it or not. I used to think I was a nice person and generally an optimist., but the menopause highs and lows, hot flashes, and sudden bursts of energy and fatigue are making my days feel like I’m bouncing on a yoga ball.
At the core of it all is a sense of lost coping skills. I feel like the ability to shift gears and juggle priorities, household tasks, work deadlines, and relationships has suddenly been whisked away like the tablecloth trick where the magician sweeps away the fabric leaving myriad objects miraculously in place.
My sweet son—just entering the teen years—seems lightly amused by mom’s shorter fuse, noted recently in a frustrating commute behind a ridiculously-pokey driver.
Now to be fair, this snail’s-pace car, slogging along mid-size roads, might not have ticked me off last year or the year before. But all that is out the window now. It doesn’t take much to tick me off these days and I’m not thrilled with the new mindset.
But hearing me spout of semi-tame frustrations under my breath, my 13-year old simply smiled and said ,“Someone needs a nap,” which made me laugh.
So maybe that’s the key right now: a sense of humor. Maybe the powerlessness of this change will steer my moods for now, but accepting the meno-monster like a stand-up comedy routine at least provides entertainment!