So what’s the deal with menopause? I’ll admit that I am nowhere near the age when I have to worry about menopause. I haven’t even had any children yet, and I rarely think about that time in my life because I’m so focused on the here and now. I know that it’s inevitably going to arrive, and I can only hope that I feel ready for it. But I think that thanks to my mom, I’m going to be pretty prepared.
She’s only 48, and was in the “pre-menopausal” stage for years before menopause finally set in. Luckily, she didn’t enter this new stage in her life with many regrets. She’d had three daughters, who she loved and cherished with all of her heart, and despite any imperfections she might have perceive about her body, she still carried herself with confidence and pride. She still does…
However, I don’t think she was feeling very proud or confident when menopause hit her. She complained of hot flashes regularly, and her body ached in ways she never even knew it could. After bearing three children, her pain tolerance definitely couldn’t be described as weak, so hearing her saying that the symptoms she was experiencing were almost unbearable was quite odd for me to hear. I mean this woman had been through surgeries, cancer scares and risky childbirth experiences, yet she was afraid of a little hot flash? But then I took a closer look…
My mother hasn’t lived an easy life. She had me at a young age and held on with all her might to an impossible marriage with my biological father before finally building up the strength she needed to leave him. Of course she always encouraged my father and I to be a part of each other’s lives, but he put her through a lot, so watching her move on from him taught me a great deal. I watched her go through heartbreak… and then I watched her fall in love again with a wonderful man who she’s now been married to for nearly 20 years. She taught me to be independent and to hold onto my dreams and beliefs with everything I have, while continuing to learn and grow from my mistakes and tribulations. She led by a wonderful example that caused us to become very close, and today she remains one of my very best friends. I feel so blessed to have had such a shining example of what a strong-willed, loving woman is supposed to be like.
When she was going through menopause, after one of her crazy (or so I thought at the time) outbursts about how she had to do everything around her house, waiting on my stepfather and younger sisters hand and foot, day in and day out (which she did and still does), I took a long, hard look at my mother. She wiped the sweat from her brow, looked at me with teary eyes and said, “This menopause thing sucks! I hate feeling so out of control of my emotions!” What she didn’t realize was that with that very movement, that very statement, she had shown me once again her incredible endurance and strength. After she pulled herself together, she went back to doing the dishes without any other complaints.
Today my mother has successfully made it through menopause, and I don’t think she has any idea what her experience and shining example throughout my life has taught me. I don’t think it would even occur to her how these two things are related to each other. Menopause was just another hurdle she had to jump over, another obstacle she had to overcome on her journey. And she did it with class and determination. Sure, sometimes she fell apart – as all of us occasionally do when faced with things that seem too hard to deal with at the time. But she pushed through and persevered, showing me once again that she is one of the strongest people I’ll ever know – I’m so lucky to have someone like her as my mother. Without her remaining such a strong, solid presence in my life, showing that nothing is going to bring her down (even those days when she felt like her skin was so hot she wanted to peel it off and she had no control whatsoever over her moods), I wouldn’t be who I am today. And for that, and so much more, she is my hero.
I want you to think about your mother. Whether you’re close with her or not, she has probably lived through more than you know. You should take the time to get to know her, even if you feel you already do. And it might sound funny, but you should ask her about her experience with menopause. Every woman’s story is different, because it’s not just a stage that every woman’s body goes through. It’s another struggle that proves how strong we as women are, and their stories should empower us to help other women realize the same. I thank my Mother, my hero, for helping me realize my potential and for teaching me the type of strength I need to really succeed in life.