Today I turn 50, and biology willing, my ovaries will run out of eggs soon. I keep thinking it’s about to happen, but after taking a break for several weeks, my ovaries find more goddamn eggs. I have probably overestimated how close I am to menopause, but damn I am tired of this whole process.
Menopause Madness has nothing earthshaking to say about this major change in a woman’s life, but it does have stills of women in black and white silent movies and it gives me permission to stop giving a shit what people think of me. To be honest, I hit that point about 5 years ago, but now maybe people will finally stop expecting me to be nice.
The book mostly focuses on the sympotoms experienced during menopause – hot flashes, mood swings, and the thinning of hair, and our relationship with men once we are past reproducing with them. I’m not particularly looking forward to the symptoms. We are supposed to have a particularly cold winter. If the timing works out, I would welcome hot flashes in winter. Hot flashes in a Texas summer sound like hell. Mood swings are the one swing I’ve always got. I have a lot of practice with mood swings.
At least I’ll be able to wear white while I swing from mood to mood.
I never wanted children of my own, so I have a lot of practice telling men my uterus is closed for business. There was a really weird period between 35 and 40 where men seemed to think I was trying to trick them into impregnating me by telling them I didn’t want to have a baby. It made dating weird. Making dating even weirder – there are a couple of men I would never have gone out with if my hormones hadn’t obscured my vision and judgement. Hitting 40 seemed to convince them (and my hormones) I was truly not looking to get pregnant. I’ve been waiting to be a post-menopausal woman for a long time.
The thing that makes this book special to me though is not the witticisms or the clever silent movie stills. Menopause Madness was a gift from a woman I have come to like and respect, one who has gone through it and is on the other side. Now that we no longer live in small agrarian communities, we have lost some of the rituals and ceremonies that mark our transitions. When Carolyn gave me this silly book it felt a little like I was being welcomed into a new community. I realized that books have been the ritual that has helped me transition mentally from one stage of life to another.
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume moved me from childhood to teen. My mom approached the subject factually and I yearned for something more, which uber mom Blume provided.
The Red Tent by Anita Diament came out when I was almost 30, and is the most menstrual book you will ever read. It connected me to the idea of myself as an adult woman more than anything else. I just realized that Blume and Diament are both Jewish, and I’m not sure what that means.
I still have a menopause to get through. But when I do, I’ll be there to lend my almost menopausal sisters a hand and an ice pack.
Bye, period! I won’t miss you.