Menopause Mondays: The Best Thing I Learned From My Mother
My Mom is a petite woman – yet very big.
She is soft spoken – yet very outspoken.
She is delicate – yet strong.
She is understated – yet elegant.
She is wise – yet modest.
She is dedicated to helping others – yet she dedicates her life to our family.
She is 93– yet she is young.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
My mother was always trying to teach me the best ways to approach life’s challenges. She used the finest tools available to her. But she came from a very different generation. She was brought up when women were not taught to speak up. It was not her fault that she missed the boat when it came to teaching me about perimenopause and menopause.
See, when I entered the hormonal throes of perimenopause, I was irritable, uncomfortable, troubled by memory loss, sleeplessness and a variety of other lovely symptoms. Worst of all, I felt like some demon had taken over my body and was eating away at my capacity for rational thought.
Confused and scared, I turned to my go-to person for all female issues: my mom. You can imagine my reaction when she told me that she didn’t have time for menopause. Her motto was, “I’m fine, fine, super fine.” Well, I didn’t feel like I had time for menopause either, but my symptoms made it impossible for me to ignore it and trust me, I was far from fine!
Later, after putting some pieces of a family puzzle together, I figured out the reason for my mother’s denial. My grandmother had gone through a very severe depression during menopause. In those days, some women like my grandmother were given shock therapy for menopausal depression. Can you imagine?! My mom had to take a leave of absence from her teaching job to take care of her mother. No wonder my mom “didn’t have time” for menopause! Who would want to have time for that?
Some experiences can silence even the strongest women. I wish I could reach back in time and give my grandmother a hug and let her know that I understand what she was going through. I wish that my mom had been more open with me about the things she was going through instead of feeling she had to always be the rock of the family.
The journeys of my mom and grandmother helped fuel my urgent and relentless desire to seek out a perimenopause and menopause specialist, get answers, and find hormone happiness. I learned that women shouldn’t have to suffer through perimenopause and menopause, and the biggest reason they were—and still are—is because women are still not prepared for perimenopause and menopause! For the most part, we still think this is a taboo topic!
As women, we know when something just doesn’t feel or seem right. It’s our responsibility to give our feelings credit—both for ourselves and for the sake of other women worldwide. It’s time to set a precedent for how women should feel in their own bodies. From puberty to menopause—and everything in between—it’s up to us to know our bodies and ensure they have what they need for a happy, healthy life. However, many women are still scared to speak up and feel like they have to power through on their own.
That’s why I couldn’t have been more proud when my daughter walked into her doctor’s office and demanded to have the proper blood panels taken for fertility testing. She stood up for herself and her health, and now, two years later, mid planning for her upcoming wedding and her life ahead, family planning is no mystery to her. Her health is no mystery to her. She is entering this exciting new chapter of her life as an active participant. Life isn’t something that just happens to her. She makes her life—and the life she deserves—happen.
In memory of our grandmothers and in honor of our dear, sweet moms, let’s help break the taboo nature that surrounds menopause. We need to teach the women of the next generation that they don’t have to be, “fine, fine, super fine” all the time. They should speak up and get the help they both need and deserve.
I hope my daughter can say that the best thing I ever taught her was how to be an advocate for her own health and happiness. I hope the same for all of the daughters of the Sisterhood! Together, we can make it happen!
Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!