Motherhood meets menopause: Putting yourself on the list

book coverReprinted with permission from Hot Flashes Warm Bottles: First-Time Mothers Over Forty, Copyright (c) 2001 by Nancy London, M.S.W., Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.

Before I got my hormones tested and knew which supplements to take, my mood swings were very erratic. I felt irritable and fragile, like I was inside an egg about to break. To be hormonally depleted as an older mother of a young child is a real double whammy. Now I feel like I can hold my life together.
Marla, 48-year-old mother of 4-year-old Justine

In your quest to maintain a career, a relationship, and a dust-bunny-free home, and to meet your child’s needs plus still have time left over for romantic interludes with your partner, the needs you most likely are not tending to are your own. This is all the more poignant because as older first-time moms, we have had years to grow into the individuals we are today and probably can remember lots of ways we used to restore and nurture ourselves B.C. -- Before Children. One 46-year-old client told me, “The realization hit me on about day seven after my son was born that my life was over as I had known it. My routines, my private time, my time for journaling, thinking, writing, painting, it was all just gone.”

To make matters worse, most of the popular books written for midlife women that encourage them to use these years as an opportunity for personal transformation and creative exploration are clearly not written for women with young children. One woman told the group, “My friend sent me this really great book that recommended that women going through menopause spend three days every full moon and three days every new moon retreating by herself to gather power. I put the book down and took stock of my life. I used to do things like that all the time. Now it was three o’clock in the afternoon. I was at home with a kid who was either playing Legos or jumping off the sofa in a Batman costume. I was about to start dinner. Then I’d do the dishes, give him a bath, read a story, and tuck him in. It would be 9:30 before I had a moment to myself again. ‘Get real!’ I wanted to shout at the book. I’d be lucky to get my teeth brushed, let alone six days a month to myself.”

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