I owe you an apology.
Remember when you were perimenopausal (or as we called it, “going through menopause”)? Remember when you experienced hot flashes? And remember when you did, how we, your loving family, either 1) ignored 2) trivialized or 3) mocked you? Your hot flashes were a constant source of humor around our house and I recall you joining the fun.
But I am betting that while you were yukking it up, you felt lonely and misunderstood. I think you were just ‘being a good sport’ because what choice did you have?
You deserved better.
I admit that until recently, until I began hotflashing myself, I forgot about your transition and how we responded to it. But now that I am living with my own body thermostat on the fritz, I get it.
Now that I am consumed by cycles of heat and chill with no warning, I am having a major A HA ! moment. Now that I find myself waking in the night, my pillow wet, my face wetter, my sleep disrupted, I am time traveling to our sunny kitchen on 2nd Street—you: flapping your blouse, face flushed. Me: rolling my eyes.
I feel badly that I did not appreciate that this process is HARD. I feel badly that I made fun of you, thinking you just a silly old woman whining about something meaningless.
In short, I was a total brat.
Sure. I did not have models for compassionate support. It seems that the discourse of peri/menopausel has two nodes 1) joking 2) patholgizing—another distorted binary that fails to capture the complexity of human experience.
I know that today, struggling through my own perimenopause, I need some simple understanding. I am normal. This is normal. AND this normal reproductive transition can suck to high heaven.
While, we don’t need to stop the clocks or call the midwife, I would like some acknowledgement (minus the sexist aging jokes, please) that doesn’t make me (or my body) the butt of a joke.
You deserved better when it was your time, Mom, and I am so sorry you didn’t get it.