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Hormones (Mine And My Daughter’s) Gone Wild: Puberty And Menopause

What an ironic twist of fate! Our daughters are going through puberty while we – their middle-aged moms – are approaching menopause. This unfortunate timing did not occur in previous generations. It’s the luck of the baby boom. We decided to delay child bearing so that we could establish successful careers.

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While we were getting our master’s degrees or climbing the corporate ladder in our 20s and 30s, we were hardly thinking of this lurking time bomb: the double whammy of hormone roller coaster rides for both mother and daughter.

Besides, hardly any of us discussed menopause with our own mothers. I never once heard my mother complain of a hot flash. We never even discussed puberty for that matter! Like many mothers of that era, mine came into my room one evening when I was about 12 and gave me a “book.” She told me to ask her if I had any questions.

I already knew about “that time of the month” from my older sister. One day my sister said she was cranky because her “friend” was coming. Like any other curious girl (I was about seven at the time), I wanted to know which friend and whether she staying for a sleep over.

So my sister proceeded to tell me that one day, I would get my period. “And it lasts for a whole week once a month from the time you’re about 13 until you’re around 55 years old!” she screeched. Shocked and disgusted, I quickly did the math and figured out that this meant torture for a total of seven years of my life, my whole life up until this point!

Well, I decided that, when I had a daughter, I would talk about things openly. Have discussions. Talk about everything. But I hadn’t counted on her getting her period at age 11. I was caught off guard when my young daughter pulled me into the bathroom, shut the door, and whispered the news to me. I had missed my moment.

To make matters worse, she didn’t want to discuss this matter with ANYONE. And she didn’t want any information from me. She covered her ears when I tried to give advice or share my own experiences.

“Why should I listen to you? You’re stupid and I hate you!” she screamed – struck suddenly by a severe case of hormones. “And it’s all your fault that I’m now completely covered with pimples!” she added as she stormed into her room and slammed the door.

Adding insult to injury, I was developing insomnia and mood swings. “If you’re turning on your brat switch, watch out! Because right now I could make the Wicked Witch of the West seem like Mary Poppins!” I hollered back in response. I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, and began to feel like my face was on fire. Now we were both crying hysterically.

I am only 46 years old! Hey, I thought this happened to women in their 50s! So, of course… what else? I called my sister! She loaned me a book about menopause. And joy of joys, I learned that this transitional phase could last for a decade or more! After reading some of the book, a light bulb finally clicked on in my head. No wonder my nightgown was covered in sweat. No wonder I was getting weird headaches. The hot flashes, the irregular periods – they were all symptoms of peri-menopause.

I wasn’t prepared for either of our “changes”: My mild-mannered, sweet, little girl was suddenly turning into the queen of mean on a monthly basis, while I was morphing into a red-hot menopausal ball of fire.

“Why don’t we let Princess Pimples and the Queen B duke it out on their own. Don’t we have to help a neighbor move some furniture or something?” my son asked my husband.

“Oh yeah. At least you get to leave for college next year. I’ll be stuck here in Hormone Hell for the duration,” lamented my mild-mannered spouse, ushering my son outside to find refuge next door.

While daughter and I navigate this wild hormone highway for the next few years, we will hurl through our share of ups and downs and twists and turns, one red hot mama and one red-headed heap of hormones trading barbs and facing off in shouting matches. I will try to keep in mind that this, too, shall pass. In the meanwhile, we will both probably try to hang in there with Tylenol, tissues for the tears, tampons, and herbal tea.

Valerie Newman

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.