Conversation with girlfriends has taken a turn lately. Some of us are more open about it than others and some seem to be fishing for information, but we are all tacitly focused on the same thing – menopause.
I’ve always been a light sleeper, but lately my slumber patterns have been reduced to nocturnal power naps. I’ve become hyper-sensitive to every siren, train whistle and barking dog within a 5km radius. I hear ghostly creaks in the house and my husband’s snoring is amplified ten fold.
I’m stupidly tired all the time. Every 30 minute session with my personal trainer feels like 3 days and I’m grumpy. SO. VERY. GRUMPY.
I share this with a friend, who looks alarmed and then whispers,
“I think you might be peri-menopausal.”
I whisper back, “Why are you whispering?”
I really don’t know a lot about peri-menopause. This is my own fault of course, because while I skim the odd magazine article and note an occasional flip comment from my friends, I have chosen to remain largely ignorant.
However there is every possibility I have entered this weird grace period between two distinct eras and to be honest, I’m not as sanguine about it as I’d like to be.
So in our mothers’ era the menopause (and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to include the ‘the’ or not) was often referred to as ‘the change’, which has a magical metamorphic suggestion about it.
“Do you know what would be great?” I ask my self-conscious coffee companion.
I’m not speaking in hushed tones.
“What if menopause was presented to us with the same degree of expectation and life-changing possibility that menstruation was?”
She looks dubiously at me as I go on to illustrate my point –
– at length.
There was something mysterious, exciting and, if I’m honest, a tad stomach churning, about those late primary school sex education talks. The boys would be sent outside to kick the footy and wrestle on the oval while we girls learnt secret women’s business.
We’d leave the classroom clutching our Johnson & Johnson sample bags and looking patronisingly at the boys.
You wouldn’t understand, said our collective gaze.
I read the ‘Growing Up and Liking It’ information booklet from cover to cover and was on high alert for the next four years, by which time the absorbent contents of my sample bag were a sad collection of shredded cotton.
I was anxious for this impending womanhood to get going because, according to the glossy black and white photographs in ‘Growing Up and Liking It’, life as a menstruating teenager would be amazingly great.
The feature model utterly inspired me with her long, straight, centre-parted hair cascading glossily past her shoulders. Her teeth were white and even, her complexion unblemished; she looked just like Marcia Brady.
She was photographed variously playing netball, swimming and riding a horse. Her enviable figure—clad in a variety of mini-skirts, high-waisted jeans and body shirts—was obviously the result of all that physical activity along with the recommended eight glasses of water she drank each day.
I’m quite sure her perfectly groovy boyfriend was a consequence of her vigilant attention to personal hygiene. They were pictured holding hands and regarding each other with Christian Youth wholesomeness.
This booklet was my template for teenage success and while it’s true I never actually attained the state of grace the model depicted, it gave me hope and kept me optimistic despite my under-developed chest and sporadic outbreaks of acne.
My friend is nodding and recalls her earliest sex education booklet that interspersed human reproduction with the life cycle of the frog and explained much about her predilection for swimmers.
So while I was delighted to receive the ‘We Heard You’re Fifty Bowel Cancer Detection Kit And Free Mammogram’, wouldn’t some type of ‘Welcome To Menopause’ booklet go some way to allaying our collective disquiet about this next phase?
Could we not engage a Michelle Pfeiffer-esque woman to demonstrate the delights of The (abracadabra) Change? She could show us how to keep our ageing skin well moisturised, and how to dress stylishly for our shape… whatever that becomes.
I want my elegant welcome to ‘Growing Older and Loving It’ model photographed at Pilates and social tennis. I’d like to see her clearing her bathroom cupboards of all superslim tampons and overnight maxi pads before enjoying the company of a companion in a hot tub.
And, depending on her cholesterol reading, possibly a nice wedge of ripe Camembert.
My favourite photo, though, will be the one where she does the Toyota jump just after waving goodbye to her harried adult children, who are dragging screaming toddlers away from her home.
My voice has risen now and I have, much to the chagrin of my friend, amassed a largely sympathetic audience.
Can someone produce this please?!
Smattering of applause.
It might have to be me.