Thursday, July 30, 2009

Poem for Young Women

what shall we do with these four young women
gorging on their own gorgeousness at seventeen
virgin goddesses, or not --
they wield their power
over middle-age
matrons, working mothers, menopausal dames
we are in awe of their peach
soft skin, golden lustre
we may think to outsmart them
with our age and experience
but their shark-bite words can wound

yet we are beautiful in ways
unknown to young straight rivers
sinous and curved, our silted beds
and wizened beauty
have made us wise
in ways they may only dream of being
we hold our power in our eyes
perhaps less glossy on the surface
but wicked with metaphor
we join hands
and watch them walking
longlegged, gorgeous horse women,
and full of promise

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hot Flash Clash of Hormones

Check out the above link to an article in the Globe & Mail today called Hot Flash Clash - about the prevalence of menopausal women with hormonal teenagers, due to women putting off child-birth until their thirties, and the issues that arise.

As a 54 year-old with a 17 year old daughter and almost 19 year old son, I can say, been there done that, and it wasn't pretty. But we're doing ok now.

I didn't put off having kids on purpose - I did get married later than some, at 29, then went back to university. We were actively trying to get pregnant (at least the conscious part of me was, who knows about the ambivalence underneath and how that affected things). It took seven years and two miscarriages, but we finally did have two full-term pregnancies, two wonderful children 20 months apart. I was 36 for the first one, 38 for the second. I had no idea that meant I'd be a menopausal crone while my daughter was entering her maiden voyage.

Hormones are a tricky thing. I think my hormonal odyssey and emotional turbulence began right after the let-down after pregnancy - all those -feel-good hormones that had floated me through nine-months of blimpdom, crashed. Or was it the sleepless nights and constant anxiety? anyway somewhere after baby #2 in the midst of my master's degree, I found myself slamming cupboard doors and getting irrationally upset with my 2 year old. He had the terrible twos and I had the terrible almost 40's.

Needless to say, PMS was a monthly crisis, and increasingly into my 40's it became hard to handle the ups and downs. I was sane, I was not certifiable, but I had trouble managing my hormonal rollercoaster at ovulation and before my period - only now the 'before' period began two weeks before, right after ovulation.

I never went to the doctor for any of this, never was on the pill to regulate my hormones nor did I get them tested. But I did see a family counsellor for tips on managing my household and my angry outbursts.

Needless to say, menopause and puberty hitting at the same time was a major challenge. There were some herbal allies that helped me sleep and cope - Promensil, basically red clover in high doses, was a help. Evening Primrose oil and calcium also, but I did not discover the herb I love most now, Motherwort, until after menopause. It is a nerve and heart tonic that appears to take the edge off my angst, and goodness knows with two teenagers there is still angst, even after the hormones have calmed down.

My daughter was moodier than my son, and being a daughter clashed more heartily with her mother. We have our best talks when we are in the car, not looking at each other. My son has surfed the wave of his hormones as a burly caveman type, grunting rather than conversing, but now has come out of the cave to show his human side.

During menopause (or the peri-menopause period from age 45-51 in my case), I didn't sleep well, overreacted emotionally, was alternately in their face and distant, and needed to be alone alot. My daughter slept alot, used Advil for cramps, and saw an osteopath for lower back pain and cramps. She started menstruating at 14, and is just getting regular in the past year I would say. So both of us are sailing better through choppy waters.

While there is no perfect age to have children, I'd have to say that the older a woman gets, and the closer she gets to her menopausal journey, the more introspection and alone time she may need. This may clash with her family's needs - she might feel they ask too much of her, or realize that she is giving more than she can afford to for her energy level.

It is always a time of reflection on where you are in your life, what you feel you have accomplished and where you want to change. It is not called The Change for nothing. But there is no reason for it be disruptive to others, if you are forewarned. So take good care of yourself, be conscious of what is simmering under the surface. Whatever is buried and left unconscious will make itself known, so be sure you are not taken by surprise by these turbulent winds.

In other words, Deal with It. Sweeping it under the carpet will not help your teenagers who are also Dealing with It.



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