I’m serious. I have not felt so loopy since I was thirteen and the hormones were raging. I remember Motor City summer nights standing out in front of the Dairy Deluxe with my girlfriends on Woodward Avenue, waiting for boys in muscle cars to drive by and whistle at us. It was 1973, we were thirteen, and we knew a thing or two. About not much, but we knew it.
Thirty-seven years later, I haven't changed really, at least not on the inside. My hair has silvered, and I have this weird stomach bulge that will not flatten no matter how many crunches I do. But all that is only the outer shell, and none of it can challenge my inner continuum.
On the inside, I still like to sit by a window and stare up into the branches of trees. I still get really happy when I hear the opening guitar riff to Exile on Main St.
I hear you talkin’ when I’m on the street
Your mouth don’t move but I can hear you speak…
I still like the Stones and staying up really late and writing (back then, it was in my journal, nowadays, I write emails to friends.) I like all the same food I liked as a kid: grilled lamb chops, blue cheese, Kalamata olives, artichokes, and McDonald’s fries. You could say I’ve always had a very eclectic culinary sense. But, above all, despite being a smart, savvy career-woman, poet, mother, and yes, by God, feminist, the thing that has never gone away is that desire to be noticed. By cute boys. Well, now they are actually men. I mean, they look like men. But deep down in there somewhere, they are still boys.
Just like I'm still a girl. The girl in me has never gone away, even though the child in me died when puberty took over. So too, my “young maiden” self is now dying (kicking and screaming) to make room for the wise woman. Just how wise this old broad is going to be remains to be seen.
Susun S. Weed, in her book, Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way, provides tons of information on natural remedies for things like hot flashes, “flooding,” insomnia, forgetfulness, crankiness, and the general je ne sais quoi that comes with the territory. She provides an interesting framework for accepting the death that is taking place, and the new birth that is coming: the birth of the “baby crone.” That image made me LOL. Big time. First of all, I really don’t like the word “crone.” I like it about as much as I like the word “cougar,” which I really hate. But a baby crone sounds so cute and funny. I see a scrawny little bird in a nest with wispy, squiggly hairs sprouting from its bumpy, goosefleshy head. I am happy to change, but please, not into a crone!
By the way, why is it called menopause and not menostop, if not to imply that some new kind of “meno” will be coming along after a brief word from our sponsors?
Honestly, I don’t know some days if I am a baby, a teenager, a grown woman, or an old hag. Going through “the change of life,” as my Nana always referred to it—my Aunt Linda was her “change-of-life baby,” born 12 years after the “last” child, which was my mom—I sometimes feel as though I am any and all of those permutations of myself in the space of less than five minutes, and then I can run back through the gamut of selves in reverse order just as fast. I will spare you the gory details of menopause, (and mine appears to be a lot milder than some I have heard about) but let me just say, it is every bit as bumpy and uncertain as was the onset of puberty. The only benefit to menopause over puberty that I can see is that there is no acne involved.
My son is thirteen, and so he is rather a perfect mirror for me at this time. I mean, that is, when he will look at me. When he is not holed up in his bedroom playing guitar and watching Myth Busters or Man vs. Food and eating Tostinos pizza rolls, he will say to me, “Mom, are you a gangsta?” I don’t know what this means, exactly, but I like to say yes to him.
So I say, “Yes, I’m a gangster."
Then he says, “Mom, are you a beast?”
“Yes, I'm a beast. Sure I am. What does that mean?”
He says, “It means you are an awesomely cool person.”
Oh that. Yes, yes of course I am.
Then he will show me a really cool music video on YouTube that he thinks I will appreciate. (I love that he can accurately detect my preferences in quirky creativity.) I will include two of his “mom-picks” for you here:
Going through menopause, it really helps to have a thirteen-year-old son. He can make me laugh in a heartbeat. A couple weeks ago on the way to a faraway soccer tournament, he was listening to something on the car CD player that shall remain nameless. (Actually, I couldn’t tell you the name if you asked me. I can’t remember it. Another sure sign of menopause.) And I said something I never in a million years thought I’d hear myself say:
I said, “You call this music?”
And without missing a beat, he said, “It’s the sound of God farting.”
Oh yeah, right. I can hear it now.
And then, just last night, he spoke another bit of wisdom to me. The kind of thing he would have said to me when he was three, and he will no doubt say again when he is 93, though not directly to me, of course. But, perhaps, maybe, he will be able to say it to me in his heart, because that is just the kind of person he is. At least, this is what I would hope for my son, to remain this kind of person long after I am gone:
He asks, “Mom, you know what’s awesome?”