Top 5 (+1) Complaints about Menopause

I am a new teacher. I retired from the military in 2015, spent an amazing and remarkable year and a half caring for my grandparents, and recently found myself with WAYYYY too much free time. Not-so-little Lou moved to Providence; Tomas moved to Chicago; and, my husband’s travel for work increased dramatically. Daniel recently came downstairs, with Zack at his heels, and a developed list of “Employment Opportunities for Mom.” He was wholeheartedly supportive of me taking on the responsibility of educating 167 seniors at his high school with the hope for a moment of peace and less scrutiny into his own life. He walks me to my classroom, hugs me in the halls, and has a renewed spring in his step.

I LOVE my new job. Economics is one of my all time favorite subjects. I could wax poetically about Keynes and Malthus. Prices, disequilibrium, scarcity, taxes, redistribution of wealth — it is truly ridiculous how much I enjoy the discussion. There are several challenges to this new beginning. I hate giving tests (and grades). I am not a huge fan of dealing with grumpy parental units. I see a generation plagued with anxiety and cell phone addiction. I restructured my classroom so they sit in groups of six. They talk incessantly about everything but economics; yet, it makes my heart glad. They have rediscovered the art of conversation.

My greatest challenge is the estrogen. Literally. I have often used that noun to express the difficulty I have working with other women. I have spent over 25 years in an industry dominated by men. I have lived the past 20 years with four men and a male dog. I have a handful of true female friends who forgive my transgressions and lack of fashion sense. I have focused on fostering a positive relationship with the young women in my classroom. I don’t get them, but they seem to get me. And yet, they cannot keep their hormones to themselves.

I was content in my post menopausal / hysterectomy world. My single remaining ovary was whistling while it worked and meeting the minimum. It is no match for the onslaught of estrogen I am steeped in. ALL the symptoms are back. I would like to publicly lodge my complaints.

#5 ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS. I was perfectly content with post-surgical missed periods. There was one unintended consequence that became the “What Day of the Cycle” game. Was my husband a complete idiot with no regard for my well-being, my children heartless and insensitive oxygen thieves, and the dog eating all my underwear and socks out of spite? Or, perhaps it was only Day 20? There was no longer the Day 29/31 revelation that my perception of reality had been temporarily hijacked by an unfertilized egg. I subsequently endured sleepless nights, headaches from hell, and hot flashes that renewed my faith that death by spontaneous combustion was possible. I was just beginning to see a drop in the scale but once again, I look at a chocolate chip cookie and gain two pounds. Yes, steamed vegetables and fruit will probably be the only side dishes I SHOULD eat, but I am convinced salt/sugar cravings are generating at a cellular level.

#4 ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS ARE…BRACES (again). What in the world is happening to my teeth? I don’t understand this phenomena, but now I spot middle aged women across America with new sets of railroad track teeth (or Invisalign). There must be some correlation. I am grateful for these brave women and may soon follow their lead.

#3 I HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND IT IS…DAIRY. In college, our ROTC instructor made someone give a powerpoint presentation on flatulence as a punishment for farting repeatedly in our very small classroom. It backfired. We snickered throughout his powerpoint on dairy cows, methane and the environment; the segment on the importance of releasing gas from the intestinal tract; and, the graph of “Number of Daily Farts” by global population. It is a good thing I find farts funny. I crack myself up. My husband is less amused. Now that I stand for six straight classes and have to occasionally bend over to pick up something, no more greek yogurt or ice cream. Menopause stinks. Literally.

#2. DAY 20 FOREVER. Mood. I would like to disclose that my theory about gender traits is that, “Boys are stupid. Girls are crazy.” I generally disclose this to only my closest friends. I blame our insanity on their stupidity. I was considering selling bumper stickers. Instead, I talk to a nice lady once a month. I sit in a waiting room filled with other middle aged women and wait my turn. Some bring their offspring. I am pretty convinced this is under the guise of “family counseling,” but is really show and tell. “THIS is why I have to come talk to you. Did you SEE the eye roll? There MUST be something wrong with this child because how can I love someone with all my heart and want to simultaneously strangle them?” No. It’s you. All the yoga, meditation and Zen tea in the world is not going to change the fact that “Your Brain on Menopause (check out WebMD)” is a total sh!t show.

#1. MY WORLD FOR A GLASS OF WATER. My body feels like the Sahara. I guess. I have not seen that particular desert, but it is on my list of “Things to Do When Daniel Graduates College, If He Goes.” I know the Sahara has more water than I drink in a day. I know I am risking the health of my kidneys, but I can stay hydrated and pee myself in class when I laugh, sneeze, cough OR I can just wait to drink water during 6th period. OR never. Somedays, i feel a lot like Spongebob in Sandy’s dome. Even on the weekends, there is not enough moisturizer, water or wine to adequately lubricate my working parts. Just call me Dorothy’s Tin Man.

But I have a heart with an overflowing love for all God’s creation. Eve. I am a little pissed at her and plan to kick her in the ovaries in the afterlife. She is the only exception. I love every day in every way. I am blessed and grateful. But, my +1 complaint is that we do not share our stories about “the change.” We celebrate the maid and the mother without valuing The Crone. As we celebrate the beginning of 2018, I challenge you to revisit your love and respect for aging women. Embrace the change with all its foibles. Laugh and live life to the fullest. Know you are loved.

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