I am writing to you today to prepare you, and to help you understand what is probably happening to your mother. You know, I am 48 years old. Yes, it is old; but not as old as I thought it would be when I was your age. No, honey, I’m not going to die. Anyway, at this age, a woman’s body goes through changes. Unfortunately, these changes come with symptoms that might confuse, bewilder or even frighten you. I want to tell you not be afraid. These changes will go away eventually, even if you have grown and are married with kids of your own. What I am saying is that I’m not sure how long these particular symptoms may last.
These symptoms are related to menopause. Menopause is the time when women can’t have anymore babies. Honey, take your fingers out of your ears…and no, I wasn’t gonna have anymore anyway. OK. Focus. The trouble is not with menopause, but with perimenopause which is the time before. That’s when there’s trouble. No, I’m not in trouble. This is when mommy’s body goes through changes, and she may act funny.
I’m going to go over some of the ways your mom and some of your friends’ moms may act around this time of their lives. Now, every woman is different and one may be very mad all the time, and one may be very sad. I think I’m one of the sad ones. That’s why I cry a lot. But if you’re at a friend’s house and their mom or aunt is having a bad day, freaking out about something, try to be a little understanding and ignore it. Your friend will appreciate it. This is a good thing to remember during these years. Years?! Yes, darling, it could be years until things simmer down.
There are many symptoms that afflict a perimenopausal woman. However, it is her reaction to these symptoms that you need to be prepared for. Pray for an early menopause, then we can all go back to our normal, dysfunctional family life with a (good looking) stable, wise middle-aged mother. A goal all of us ladies aspire to. The two main symptoms you need to be aware of are: hot flashes and panic attacks.
Almost all women experience hot flashes. They kinda are hard to explain, let’s just say the chemicals in a woman’s body get a little out of whack and soon she’s walking around in her own personal oven. Seriously, it could be the dead of winter in Wisconsin, and she’ll be red-faced in a tank top opening up all the windows. It will look like she’s sick with a fever, but she’s not. She’s just hot…yeah, that is funny. Ignore that she looks like a tomato, never confront her on this and just be prepared with a parka or toasty blanket.
My hot flashes have been mild compared to your aunt’s. She gets a lot of them, and they are not pretty. Best thing to do is go in the spare bedroom and play Nintendo. Don’t pay attention to her profuse sweating, ignore her swearing (she might be one of the mad ones) and don’t repeat anything she may say during this time. Finally, a gentle reminder, when you’re at your friend’s house, and it’s freezing inside the house, you know what’s going on. Bring an extra sweater or something, and keep quiet.
Unfortunately for you guys, I do suffer from panic attacks. I want to apologize in advance for all the things you’ll be deprived of because of this. The panic attacks are one of the reasons I can’t drive freeways, please forgive me for not taking you to the City or the River anymore or ever to Disneyland. You know, you guys are partially to blame, all those years I did drive you places and you guys were fighting in the back…Ricky, you remember…that has permanently affected me. I think I might be suffering from a mild form of PTSD from those trips. Just saying…no, I won’t sue you.
A panic attack is a physical overreaction to a normal stressful event. We all experience stress in one form or another every single day of our lives. What is stressful to you is not stressful to me, and vice versa. That nearly invisible tiny red mark on your face may send you in a panic, but not me; but someone hacking into my Myspace with inappropriate material definitely freaks me out. Remember I was gonna shut all your Myspaces down? Luckily, I was talked down by some friends. No big deal, simple and easy solutions abound. However, when you have a panic attack, those simple and easy solutions SEEM impossible. The physical effects of a panic attack are equally unnerving: rapid heartbeat and sweating, you really think you’re having a heart attack or stroke. Lovely, huh?
How can you help your mom during these times? First of all, and this advice can be applied at any time, don’t fight. When you guys fight, there’s so much more added stress. If there’s a problem, come talk to me in a quiet, civilized fashion, preferably without swear words, and we can work it out. You know I love when there’s peace in the valley. Yes, I know it was his fault and you did nothing, but let’s compromise and work out the situation. I think 85% of your fighting is unnecessary. Let’s work on reducing that figure. Thank you in advance.
Second, if the house is messy, which it most likely is, and you have nothing to do – because you’re bored, right? – try cleaning something…anything. Don’t wait to be asked, get up and like, pick up the dirty towels in the bathroom. Simple. Two minute job. Or, if you’re ambitious, set the timer for 15 minutes (thank you, Flylady) and do something, anything in the kitchen. Not only is the stress of a messy house relieved, but it will encourage my heart seeing your consideration and incentive to do something for me and our home. A clean and orderly house really helps the atmosphere, and keeps the peace.
Next, a little understanding can go a long way. If you’re clever, and I know all of you are, you can suggest when I am reluctant to go somewhere, that I ought to go, I need to get out, you’ll even watch the younger kids, don’t even worry about it. I may take you up on it.
Finally, consideration and understanding for each other will alleviate much stress and add to the peaceful harmony of our home. If all of you can come to this in yourselves, I’ve accomplished a great deal as a mother. I hope this short essay will help you understand the reasons to your mother’s erratic behavior, and that it is not her fault; after all, she is just going through a phase.