My mom went through menopause in her early 40’s. In my teenaged haze of Aqua Net, I thought she was bonkers. At one point she wrote an entire comedy routine surrounding a glowing nose hair, discovered on her way home from work in her rearview mirror by accident. I imagined my 40-something-mother standing up in front of crowd of other 40-year-olds, talking about her weird nose hair. It was fine as long as she did NOT talk about it around my friends. I remember that time often now, as I am the mom of two teenaged daughters, going through the big “m.” I realize now I may have been harder on my mom than I should have. Her moods were an endless roller coaster. Her interests suddenly changed. I could not understand this new person in my house. Thanks to our hormones, I think we fought more during those years than any other time.
I glanced in the mirror and noticed something silvery sticking out of my nostril. Glitter? No, it wasn’t glitter. I leaned closer to the mirror and immediately wished I hadn’t. It was a long, wiry, grey nose-hair! NO! That was NOT there the day before! It had sprouted overnight. I hopped up onto the counter to get closer to the mirror, peered into my nostrils, and plucked the nasty thing out of my nose. This is not supposed to happen to me yet, I thought. I still feel 25 inside. How can I be going through this already? Silent tears streaked down my cheeks, as I cried to myself in the bathroom.
I have more zits than my thirteen-year-old and my 16-year-old combined right now, and not just on my face. It’s like a disgusting game I play every day with my newly discovered hormones; Guess What Will Pop up Next!? Will it be a pimple on my ear? Hair falling out in clumps from my head? Sweat pouring out like a faucet while everyone else is freezing, staring at me like I’m an alien? Perhaps this time it will be a combination of extremely dry, lizard skin, with mountainous pimples to make it extra challenging (my current struggle). I’m applying wrinkle cream to dry patches, acne cream to pimples next to them. I burst into tears from commercials or songs, and yell at my family when someone forgets to switch the laundry. I feel like someone has taken my body hostage and I have little control.
I understand how my mom felt all of those years ago. I know why she wanted to find a community of others to relate to, and why she acted like a crazy person. I understand how hard it was to deal with a hormonal teenager at the exact same time as she was going through her life change. I understand why the dream of having more children is painful to let go of no matter what age it’s taken away, especially as people still ask me the question: why don’t you have another baby? Yes, we were recently asked that question. I sometimes really wish I could have another one. One of my dreams is to be a foster/adoptive parent, so I’m going to hold on to it tightly, remembering there is a reason for everything. Even early menopause. My husband is starting to come around about the idea. Maybe there is a beautiful child out there for us somewhere waiting and hoping someday crazy red-headed woman will be the parent they never knew they always wanted -grey nose-hairs and all.
“There is no age. There is, as there always was, just you.” -Carol Mattthau, writer