Dear Diary, I never really believed in menopause until I was forty seven. I bet there are lots of women out there like me. When my mother was forty seven, I was only four so I never saw any real changes in her. Most of my memories of my mother were of her in her fifties. It seems odd now that I discounted what women experience as they enter their early fifties. I mean women have been talking about it for ever, yet, I thought it was just story, not experience. I am ashamed of that but it is what I thought. I never really believed in menopause until I turned forty seven and then a wave washed over me. You know what I am talking about.
All the little changes that sort of crept up upon you. The persistent hair on my chin, the waking up bright and bushy tailed at 3 am, the sudden heat waves that are generated from some inner sanctum , the forgetfulness. Well I have always been forgetful and I messed up times and dates all my life but I notice it more now. So now , let me tell, you I am a believer. It was not just a story after all. It is a passage after all. I remember starting to real Gail Sheehy’s Passages in my twenties and putting it down bewildered. Funny thing is , I have always believed in stages. I could see them in myself and in my children, my husband.
My discounting menopause was really just another version of discounting women’s wisdom, just one more version of not taking women’s stories seriously. Domestic Fiction, Chick Flicks, Chick Lit, well yeah there is some of that out there but really women’s stories run deeper than that. Imagine our mothers, our grandmothers and the stories they could tell us about their lives. In my family there would be very little chick lit . Suddenly I am interested and wondering how it actually was for my mother, that passage from being a young woman to a mature woman. It is undoubtedly a big change. Our relationship with the world around us changes. We see differently, and oh yes we are seen differently, whether we admit it or not. That is not to say we lose our touch, or that we loose our groove. We know it’s not like that. But we also know it’s different.
I have been watching women in their fifties and early sixties for quite a while. I have been on the look out for beauty and I have no trouble finding it. Sometimes I am astounded by it. I even notice strangers. When I was in St Johns I watched this sleek grey haired woman in her fifties go through the check out at Dominion with a leather jacket, tight skirt and legging and I thought…” there, she is proof that you can look great fifty five, by trying to look fifty five.” She could turn heads with out trying to pretend she was ten years younger. Cause it is pretending, you are the age you are, embrace it.
Beauty is available to us at every age. It is sad that we are pressured to try and look younger, to revisit another stage that we already had a shot at when the stage we are actually at is so precious in itself. If we spend our time trying to get back the fountain of youth are we missing the youthfulness of the stage we are at now? Because that will pass too. Looking Lovely is not about looking young. It is about embracing whatever your best assets are at a given time and working with them. For me beauty is about genuineness and acceptance. What is more beautiful than authenticity?
That is not to say I plan to rush into old age. I plan to groove into it. I plan to comb my hair, buy good mascara, and wear long boots. I plan to look after myself. What I do not want to do is deny the age I am because this seems disingenuous and ungrateful. So many people never get the opportunity to embrace menopause and middle age. So many never got to grow old. We are lucky to get to watch our kids turn into adults and be there to support them. These lines under our eyes are there because we’ve seen things, because we have stories, because we know. They are there , and that is all there is to it. Still, I do put a little Aveda cream on them that Lorna bought for me because they deserve to be treated good. Those little lines have been a witness to my life. They deserve a little massage now and then. I have no illusions they will go away.
There is nothing like personal experience to bring you closer to belief. I now believe in menopause. I apologize to every woman who is older than me.
I also believe in acceptance and aging beautifully. Here are a few examples….