Go To The Head of the Class

When was the last time you got some recognition for all your hard work? Your late night introspections? Your fertility-challenged epiphanies? All that and much more have contributed to your bona fide goddess growth in the wake of infertility.

Gold stars for all my dear Internets, my nomos, my non-moms, my infertile readers working hard to recover and reinvent, my CNBCs (those childless not by choice) — you have totally earned it.

What is the cause for celebration, you ask? Why are you being feted? You have graduated and you most likely didn’t even know it.

You have navigated stormy seas and gone on to master a stage of life that those in the throes of motherhood will confront long after we’ve self-actualized. While the mommies amongs us have been busy posting what often seems like time-lapsed photography of their children on Facebook, organizing play dates, refereeing disputes and moonlighting as chauffeurs — you’ve been transforming into a new and improved you.

That’s right, you’ve done leap-frogged to the head of the class. Get the black pen out so you can check the emotional menopause box. While you may be years away, still, from the physical change you have bitch-slapped the emotional. Trust me, I’ve done my research here.

The North American Menopause Society explains it this way: “Menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life, but at times it may feel anything but normal. The ‘change of life’ can also have a major impact on your emotional health. The transition into menopause can be a time of reflection, anticipation, sadness and confusion.” The medical community has described it as (wait for it….) “an emotional rollercoaster.”

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You own the roller coaster!

Have you found yourself in recent years, according to the experts, “flooded with emotions as the reality sets in that [you] will no longer be able to conceive a child. The impending loss of fertility can rattle overall identity as well as a sense of sexuality and desirability.”

Well, of course! Been there done that — got the freakin’ t-shirt. We, ladies, for once have our own reason for a little smugness.

For more on the subject you have mastered, read here and here.

And now, virtual drinks for all my accomplished compatriots. What can I get you?

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24 thoughts on “Go To The Head of the Class

  1. MLO

    Facing things ahead of the curve can make for interesting insights.

  2. Beth

    Thanks Pamela for trying to put a positive spin on menopause but as a woman who began hot flashing at 43, the honest truth is that it sucks! After 6 years of riding the emotional and physical rollercoaster, I liken the experience to having a series of mini-nervous breakdowns on a regular basis. I have often asked myself “Am I losing my mind?”. No, I just lost my fertility. I’ve read that women who do not bear children have more longer and more intense symptoms which I can verify to be true. I would gladly trade in the gold star for one night of uninterrupted sleep. I do agree that childless women do have more time to reflect on themselves, but living with the painful disappointment of not being able to conceive, I am not so certain that it is a good thing. I pray that one day this too shall pass.

  3. Pamela

    Beth: Sorry you’ve been wrestling with the downsides … there’s nothing easy about we’ve lived with and through. It was only in contemplating the perimenopausal physical that I realized how much of the emotional aspects many of us have already come to terms with…wishing you all the best.

  4. Pamela

    And in following your life story, MLO, it’s clear you have much to teach us…

  5. White wine for me, please, Pamela. ; ) All around me, my friends are mourning their empty nests and wondering
    “what now?” as their children leave home to go to university, get married and start their own families. They are redefining themselves and their role in life, going back to school or back to work after years of focusing on their families.

    My nest was always empty — but I too did some mourning and had to redefine myself when I realized I wasn’t going to be a mother. And while I never got to take maternity leave or stay at home with my kids, I’m hoping I can retire in the next few years (while my peers go back to work to pay for their kids’ college educations). It might not quite make up for my lack of children — but it helps to have something to look forward to! ; )

  6. Something sparkling for me please!

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning. Neither infertility or menopause (or peri-menopause, for that matter) is any laughing matter, but hey, I’ll take my smugness anywhere I can get it. ;-)

  7. I loved this paragraph: “You have navigated stormy seas and gone on to master a stage of life that those in the throes of motherhood will confront long after we’ve self-actualized. While the mommies amongs us have been busy posting what often seems like time-lapsed photography of their children on Facebook, organizing play dates, refereeing disputes and moonlighting as chauffeurs — you’ve been transforming into a new and improved you.”

    I’ve often thought that, and then wondered if perhaps I was being a bit smug!

    Also, the physically-prompted emotions of peri-menopause have been beating me up lately, so I think I needed this. I know I needed to be told I have earned a gold star. Thankyou.

    I think I’ve also earned a chardonnay (make it a big one) too!

    And I hope you’ve poured yourself a much-deserved drink too.

    (Sigh – wouldn’t a gathering IRL be so much fun?)

  8. Thank you Pamela. It feels good to be a graduate of something. Once I knew I wasn’t going to be a traditional mother I started college and it seems to be taking an eternity. When my friends start watching their kids leave home I hope I’ll already have built something I can be proud of.

  9. Pamela

    Coming up! Would you care for a side of Dubonnet with that, Lisa? I’ve been reading about its royal comeback since the Jubilee focused on all the Queen’s favorites

  10. Pamela

    Dirty martini it is!
    We can design t-shirts about the roller coaster … will think on some creative ideas after my second cup of coffee. Meanwhile welcome reader ideas

  11. Marni

    lol – “You own the roller coaster!” – killer comment, and great post, Pamela. Loved it.

    And I’ll have a dirty martini with my Remifemin.

  12. Pamela

     We’ll toast you again, Rachel, when you graduate college. Good on you for taking on a new vocation!

  13. Pamela

    Chardonnay coming up. One of my favorite’s is from Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma, California. You must come visit, Mali, on one of your next travel treks. I’ll put the winery tour on our agenda. Meanwhile hope the physical peri- disturbances settle down…

  14. Pamela

    No worries, Beth. Mixing up your drink right now. In fact, it sounds so good, I’ll have one myself

  15. OOOHHHH I LOVE LOVE LOVE this line:

    “While you may be years away, still, from the physical change you have bitch-slapped the emotional.”

    Bitch-slap is a grand word. :-D Here’s to graduation! :-D

  16. Beth

    Sorry if my comment came off bitchy Pamela, I must have been having another hot flash! I do see the humor in your post and appreciate the opportunity to congratulate ourselves for traveling down the road less travelled. I’ll have a Rose Kennedy please (vodka, cranberry, lime juice with a splash of seltzer). THANK YOU for always making me think and feel less alone!

  17. battynurse

    I’m in need of a Margarita! This is soooo true.

  18. This is a fascinating point – never thought of it before! (That’s why we have Pamela to provide all this wisdom.) I’d heard that we start having more in common with our fertile peers when their kids get old enough not to want to talk to them any more (so, 12yo and above), but I never thought about the fact that their next step is having to redefine as the center of their identity is removed – long after ours was. I remember five or ten years ago hearing that a friend’s mom (a very Catholic mother of five) was throwing her husband for a loop going on a long retreat because she realized she needed to discern what to do with the rest of her life. He thought she was going to spend the rest of her life married to him; she didn’t disagree with that, she just perceived very keenly that with all her children grown, the core of her regular existence was gone and she needed to reassess. I think she ended up making a dramatic change (they sold their house and bought a mobile home and traveled far and wide to spend time with their various collections of grandchildren). But she just realized more clearly what lots of people see – they need a new purpose and a new path when the kids are out of the house. We’ll never have any kids in the house. We are ahead of the game!

    And to loribeth – you are a more gracious person than I am. When my peers start second careers to pay their kids’ tuition and I retire early to do whatever the heck I want, I am going to gloat insufferably. I don’t think I can ever make up for the captive audience sessions with baby pictures and the lectures about their preschoolers’ precocity and the seven-year-old’s budding soccer career and the horrors of non-organic baby food and plastic ANYTHING, but I am going to do my very best.

    The wheels of justice grind slow…

  19. Who says I’m not going to gloat?? lol (Just a little, maybe!) ; )

  20. Lynda

    Thank you so much for your courage to write Silent Sorority Pam. I’ve been looking for years for a book that I can relate to, and I’m going to send a copy to the counsellor I’ve been seeing who had no literature to offer me on how to grieve and move forward. When I was out yesterday with the new babies in our family for once I didn’t feel total alone knowing that I wasn’t insane and that I didn’t need to feel guilty for all my conflicting feelings. Thank you for that…

  21. Pamela

    Thank you, Lynda, for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. It is precisely your experience — the lack of relate-able stories — that led me to write Silent Sorority. You’re among those who understand you here…

  22. […] read her post yesterday morning and, to be honest, it set my attitude to positive for the entire […]

  23. […] who have followed my personal story know I long ago confronted emotional menopause.  (Do you recall the days when I took some schadenfreude and gleefully patronized those who got a […]

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