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April 18, 2010

Facing Puberty and Menopause - All in One Day


When my now 10-year-old was about 5, she asked me one day: "Mommy, when I am a teenager are you going to be a grandma?"  I replied easily: "Well I suppose its possible but that would mean your sisters would have to be married and have children by then."  She quickly rephrased.  "No.  Not are you going to be a grandma, are you going to look like a grandma?"  I pretty much stopped looking at mirrors after that.

I have to admit that in the 5 years since she posed that question, gravity has certainly done its job but I still clean up pretty well with the help of my arts and crafts kit (makeup) and my support system (spanx).  I don't feel 52.  Or at least not how I thought 52 would feel like.  So it didn't really occur to me that I am definitely older than the majority of the other moms at school.  They are still skinny and pert and they still put on makeup before they leave the house - even if its just to drop little Alison off at school.  Okay, so I'm not one of them.  I am not 30.  Oh yeah.

It isn't so bad.  I had three other daughters, now grown, for whom I was more age appropriate.  And in fact, there are a real good handful of us late 40s/early 50s moms doing carpool.  I really don't notice it. Much.  No, really.  It's not an issue.  I mean who cares anymore?  Okay, I'm lying.

The truth is, I really didn't care until recently.  I really DON'T care about being 52.  I am fine with that.  And no,  I don't look like a grandma.  At least not what my grandma looked like at 52.  But I really got choked about my age recently at a mother/daughter tea that was held at the school for all the girls in Grace's class. 

It was a lovely event - very formal - and all the girls and their mothers dressed up and ate finger sandwiches and scones.  And then, we talked about "becoming a woman".  And we watched a little film.  And we talked about our bodies.  And mostly, we talked about periods.   And my Grace was mesmerized.  We had covered all this at home before but here, in this setting, she was so enthralled to learn that she was on the precipice. 

I remembered well, at the age of 10, sitting in the bathroom with Debbie Gobel talking about body hair and training bras and periods and I, like Grace, could not wait for nature to take its course.  But Grace probably has a few years to wait still, just as I did.  And that was when it hit me.  When Grace does get her period, I likely will have stopped mine.  This single fact made me suddenly feel chasms away from by beautiful young girl.  She with the first signs that her womanly body is coming to life, me with the signs that my body is slowing down.  And I looked at all the younger moms and knew that this was not going to be the case for them.  And it made me sad.  Look, its only menopause.  And how sick am I of having periods? Very.  But it is the one thing that feels unfortunate to me. That we will not share any of this unique and mysterious experience at the same time.  And I did.  I felt old.  For the first time.   

All the girls were given a little bag of goodies as we left.  In them there were lotions and deodorant and shampoo and the highly coveted "pads".  They were told to put the pads in their purses so that they could be ready when "it" happened, and Grace now carries one with her.  It will probably disintegrate before she has a chance to use it, and it is not likely that I'll be carrying when she needs it.  

But I will be there.  And I will buy her her first bottle of Midol.

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