I'm "only" 46, which is on the young side of the average age for menopause. (Research of the formal and informal types I've done suggest the "normal" age is 51.) I don't know for sure what I'm going through, but this I do know. I am crying way too often. I have fits of anger. Little things get blown out of proportion easily in my head, and I'm just not in a slump or a funk or having a bad few weeks.
I can't say I've had "hot flashes" as described online where I feel a sudden outbreak of sweat. I am not throwing everything off at night, nor am I covering up per usual. I am always generally warmer these days than ever before. Wearing a hoodie has only appealed to me once thus far, and it was a cold, rainy, windy night. I'm in flip-flops and capris and short sleeves most every day, regardless what the thermometer says.
But mostly I think I'm in menopause because I just can't get a grip. I am too emotional. Come on, people, here's what made me cry today: I heard a woman (the announcer on a local Christian radio station) recalling a fall memory. The memory was a beautiful sky-blue autumn day when her mom took the day off work and let Tracie stay home from school just to spend time with her.
I was driving when I heard this. The tears came like rain down my face. And then when she said, "It was right before my parents divorced, and I think my mom was trying to comfort me and prepare me, though she didn't mention the divorce." I was just about bawling.
Granted, I have some huge things going on in my life. My parents' 50th wedding celebration on October 29th is weighing heavily on me logistically (prepping for house guests, making visual displays), etc. My son is getting married in March and we're in charge of the rehearsal dinner in NJ, which means finding time to go up and scout things out. I hardly see my older kids anymore. One is student teaching and comes home wiped out and is fighting disillusionment. My youngest has been in the principal's office four times in two weeks in his "adjustment period" to a new school. That makes me feel like a four-fold failure. I am volunteering as an art teacher in his school, but spend more like 3 hours out of class prepping for every 45 minutes in it on a super-tight budget. My husband and I seem like strangers to each other. Our church is in the process of selecting a new senior pastor, and some precious people have left in the midst. Nothing new. It happens, but it hurts. I just feel like there are way too many life transitions at once right now and I don't want to heap more stuff on the shepherds and caregivers in my life. And on top of that, my boy says, "I wish I had a real brother. A brother my age to play with." Sorry, son. I'm pretty sure I can't make that happen unless we adopt, and I am pretty sure that's a big fat "no way, Jose''" now and forever. Amen. Ten years ago I was up for it.
Yesterday in the car my little guy made me cry, too, but it was because of one of those sweet-but-haunting comments kids say when you least expect it. (By way of background, My mom had had tear duct surgery the day before. It's a precursor to corneal transplant surgery in the future, she hopes. Everything went well, and she is glad she had it done even though today her face is so swollen and bruised she can't get her glasses on. But Daddy said to her, "You look as pretty as the day I married you." Naturally I teared up at that!)
Joel loves his grandparents and I think he is more affected by their declining health than he lets on. The way they walk, their old age that shows in their faces and their voices. The steady stream of doctor appointments they talk about. I've been thinking that sort of thing goes "in one ear and out the other" for my fourth grader. You know, "old people stuff" that has no staying power in a squirmy kid's world? Not so. I think it's all burrowing deep into his little heart.
So he says to me in the car, "Mom, I had a dream about Ima." (That's what the kids call my mother.)
"You did?" I ask. "What did you dream?"
And he says joyfully, "I dreamed that she was fine. She could see clearly!" His voice rises with a sing-songy delight. "She didn't have a foot problem. She was running! And she looked young."
And so my menopausal mind rushes to the conclusion: That sounds like she's in heaven. Is this a prophetic dream? Is my mom going to die in order to see clearly and walk well?
I asked, "What about Pappaw? Was he in the dream?"
He said in a dropped voice, "Yeah. But he still looked old."
I was glad Joel couldn't see my face. Tears were just running down my face. They are running down my face now as I write this. See what I mean? These blog posts are more "down" than "up" lately, aren't they? In the past I have been able to see the sunny side, to be flexible when things aren't ideal or even to my liking, to want to give my whole self into new adventures. Now I am skeptical, critical, reserved, fatigued. What is wrong with me?