As I enter into the last five to six months of my forties and they have been fantastic in the main, I realise that I’m now old enough to section my life into decades. How the hell this has come to pass so quickly is somewhat beyond me. There is a saying that I used to utter like a mantra to myself when drowning in domesticity and in what sometimes seemed to be the interminable groundhog days of child rearing, because to be honest not all of it was magical milestones, cuddles and cuteness. A zen like approach to motherhood more often than not eluded me.
“The days are long but the years are short” and I’m extending that to include “and the decades are a blur!”
For the record and posterity here’s my decades in salient bullet points. I find it hard to be brief.
- Age 0-10; The Cork Road, family, Long hot summers never rained in the school holidays…ever!
- Age 10-20; The decade of Top of the Pops; libraries; drainpipes, boys, college, family, alcohol & lifelong friendships.
- Age 20-30; Also fondly known as The wilderness years. London, money , work, more boys maybe men, travel, lifelong friendships , LOVE & Motherhood.
- Age 30-40; Family, Birthing, Babies ,Toddlers, Breasts, Building a Home. Boredom,Baby Brain, Exhaustion, Multi-Tasking, Beach Days, Nights out, Homework, More life long friendships’, friendship & love.
- Age 40-49; Family, Tots and Teenagers, ME, more ME, exercise, mud runs, deadlifts, my brain, setting up own my philanthropic taxi service, state examinations, LOVE, home and the effective use of the word NO and the joy of YES.
As a zen like approach to life has eluded me to date, it would be fairly ludicrous to expect me to develop this skill as I enter what I hope will be my fabulous fifties. (Sorry excuse me as I snort the end of day cup of tea up my nose in yet more astounded disbelief and denial.) Given the rate which I believe my hormones are departing my body( like rats deserting a sinking ship) and the difficulties that being perimenopausal presents in my day to day life I fear the only zen entering my life will be a reread of Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” which was a mainstay of decade three’s reading material.
Steve McQueen in The Great Escape
Actually whilst on the subject of hormones let me first get something off my chest about the perimenopause. Let me give fair warning of a strong possibility of a rant.
The perimenopause is viewed/dismissed by the medical profession somewhat similarly to first stage of labour in childbirth. If you have ever been told that it’s not “real labour” in spite of the fact that you are doubled in pain with regular contractions for hours; as your cervix refuses to cooperate and wants to make a fool of you by deciding not to dilate to any acceptable measurement. You’ve wanted to hit the smug, unempathetic health professional who delivers this news to you as they fail to acknowledge that the pain is really real. Then you will understand how I feel when discussing my, lets just call them peri-m symptoms, the poor ignored relation to THE ACTUAL MENOPAUSE!
Let it not matter, that my skin(which I have always loved if neglected) has decided to attack itself resulting in patches of eczema that multiply weekly.
Let it not matter that I feel that my brain capacity is returning to baby brain days.
Let it not matter that I only have to be within a 100 metre radius of any food substance and with or without eating it, my body will absorb it and convert it into fat which is then free to take up residence anywhere in my body.
Let it not matter that my current metabolic rate make sloths look guilty of being on steroids.
Let it not matter that whilst now being old enough for wrinkles, my duplicitous hormones want to keep me just young enough for spots, menstrual bleeds and monthly migraines.
Let it not matter that whilst the hair on my head is thinning (and as the hairdresser who had mighty observational skills pointed out) is losing all colour pigmentation, it would appear that all of my body hair has decided to migrate to my chin.
Let it not matter that my mood swings make an irate adolescent look positively docile and as for sleep ha bloody ha.
Let it not matter that I spent months believing that I had a super efficient immune system that was fighting these series of rather sporadic night time viruses. These nocturnal viruses were causing temperature spikes. The temperature spikes obviously killed said random viruses, as by morning I was fine. Sadly, this was not the case welcome to the world of perimenopausal night sweats.
Let it not matter that my sex drive..well look where it came in on the rankings enough said.
Well, with the perimenopause because you still have some erratic production of oestrogen and progesterone in your body and you still have your periods although they are about as reliable as the promise of high speed rural broadband..it’s not the real deal so fucking forget about drawing medical attention to any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Now yes, where was I. Oh yes the passage of time.
Well time has passed since I last worked on this, on a carefree day at the end of April and has made the first ending that had loosely formed in my foggy brain redundant. Instead of my everyday bucket list for my 50’s that I had mentally started to compile, and my thoughts on embracing the offerings of each new decade, life threw us one of the biggest, hard hitting blows that it can. Death.
It is too early to write about the death of my much loved big brother John who died tragically whilst hiking in the Vosges Mountains on May 12th 2018.
Each breath and the passage of time, a month, as I type seems to bring me further away from him. My grief is too raw, too engulfing and visceral and our loss is too great to blog about. I have no beginnings or soundings of the words that would suffice. There is no bargaining to be done with sudden death or any death for that matter, no squaring of this circle and no going back to the evening when all the keyboard demanded was a gentle and rueful reflection who how fast life is. So for today, it’s just for today. But just so you know, grief is no respecter of hormones either.