Remember when menopause was only vaguely referred to as The Change? I remember hearing about The Change and knowing only that it meant the end of one’s childbearing years. I think I believed for a long time you just woke up and all the periods were over and that’s what menopause was.

I don’t remember ever learning that menopause (or perimenopause if you want to use the correct term that I know I’d never even heard of until my forties) was such a lengthy time of transition. I didn’t realize The Change wasn’t one change, but rather a staggering number of things happening all at once.

Such as:

My relationship with my body. Sometimes it’s every bit as toxic as it has been throughout my entire adult life and then some, with the added fuel of bemoaning all the new aging-related aches and sags n’ flabs. But sometimes it feels like I’m on the verge of transcending hardwired beauty standards and I get these glimpses of a more gratitude-based way of appreciating my body for its capabilities past and present and not its appearance? But then sometimes I catch sight of myself in a mirror and I’m like WHO EVEN IS THAT HALF-MELTED POTATO KAREN??? It is a rich and ever-shifting tapestry!

My identity as a parent. Oh, so you’re telling me that after re-arranging my soul/brain to accommodate the constant hands-on necessities of parenthood my kids will suddenly become independent beings who only require access to my credit card and not my entire life’s ambitions, and if I hadn’t been simultaneously in-roading new hobbies and friends and interests all along I might find myself staring down the empty-nest barrel with a real sense of, like, trepidation?

My career drive. You know the saying about how early in your career you just want to be IN the meeting, and then mid-career you want to LEAD the meeting, but eventually you don’t want to be invited to the meeting at all? I don’t give work the energy I used to, when it comes to caring about office politics or fretting over managerial differences. I hold boundaries on my time. I’m not trying to reach for that brass ring. At this point, I recognize my own value, I’m uninterested in any section of the corporate ladder above my relatively comfortable perch; I’m just happy to do good/interesting work when I can.

My lady garden and its once-oceanic habitat, now best described as a desert/arid environment. Clamate change! (…forgive me I physically could not stop myself from typing that.)

My ability to see men. It’s disappearing! ON GOD, I swear I do not notice men as often as I used to. You know who I find myself appreciating more and more, though? Women. Particularly older women. Sometimes I feel like we tend to give each other a little nod of recognition when we’re out and about, maybe at Safeway or whatever. It’s like being a Jeep driver: you know, the little wave? I see you, girl.

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Meghan
Meghan
8 months ago

Well, 100% to all of this. Thanks so much for writing it because I feel exactly the same way about all of it. Especially the men thing. And the body thing. And the career thing. All of it! But I still can’t forgive you for that climate change joke.

sara
sara
8 months ago

CLAMATE CHANGE.. IM DEEEAD

Victoria
Victoria
8 months ago
Reply to  sara

Came here to say that! hahahahahaha

mcw
mcw
8 months ago

AMEN!

Nine
Nine
8 months ago

You say clamayto, I say clamahto.

BJP
BJP
8 months ago

re: clamate change. How is it possible that in my 73 years I have never known the word clam to refer to anything but a shellfish? Thank god for the urban dictionary!

Last edited 8 months ago by BJP
Shawna
Shawna
8 months ago

I have noticed my waist thickening and have started to think way more about the negative connotations of visceral fat than is seemly. I’ve had more tiny health issues and tests this year than in all my previous years put together (positional vertigo, vitreous detachments in both eyes within a few weeks, mole biopsy, heart scan, carotid artery scan, that mail-in sample that subs for a colonoscopy these days, mammogram). I’ve got one more suspicious mole that will have to be carved off my toe, but so far the minor issues have mostly resolved and my test outcomes are positive, but DAMN. I had heard that people start to fall apart at 50 but hadn’t expected so much at once.

Heather
Heather
8 months ago

I see you, girl!

Robin Danely
Robin Danely
8 months ago

Here in the UK it’s referred to as The Menopause, which I think makes it sound more appropriately like a horror movie.

ORSuz
8 months ago

Over almost 20 years between Queen Anne and Eugene, I’m sure we’ve crossed paths. Head nod this Crone (60 in January 2024) if you see me at MoC, TJs, etc. I’ve got lots of thoughts & opinions about aging gracefully. A funny by-product of my menopause: I quit smoking after 40 yrs. w/o trying or meaning to; it just happened. Go figure. Glad to have found you again and still creating. Take good care.