When I started experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, particularly my erratic, eternal, exsanguinating periods, I naturally turned to my mom with one burning question: When might I be able to expect this to STOP?!
Problem was, she didn’t remember when hers stopped. I managed to get out of her it was in her 50s. Possibly late 50s (ack!) but maybe not (argh!).
In my mom’s case her trip through menopause wasn’t particularly memorable…no hot flashes, no memory of similar period problems, nothing worth retaining some 25 years later.
I confess, I was frustrated.
And it made me think of other women and wonder what their moms told them. Were there a lot of women like me with moms without menopausal memories, or moms who were stoic or didn’t like talking about such things, women who were adopted whose mom’s memories wouldn’t necessarily be relevant, or women whose moms were sadly gone too soon?
So, I did what anyone would do in this day and age: I asked my Facebook community.
Just like no two perimenopausal women have the same symptoms, no two women seem to have the same story about their mom’s menopause either!
It was comforting to learn that many of my friends were like me, with moms who didn’t remember much. Or in the case of my friend Suzanne…her mom claimed she simply didn’t go through it! Tracey’s mom didn’t remember a thing, leading her to wonder if women just block it out. I mean they say that about childbirth, right? But to what end? You “forget” the pain of childbirth, so you’ll have the courage to go through it again. I better not be going through perimenopause again!
Thankfully, several of my post-menopausal friends showed me some light at the end of the tunnel. Deb and Barbara were among several who said, just wait…when it’s all wrapped up things are gonna be great! (well, apparently except the dry vagina part, this is universally recognized to suck!)
Plenty of moms were pretty stoic about their experience, like Jenna’s mom who called it “unmemorable.” Or even having the nerve of both Jessica’s and Amy’s moms to say that one day they just realized they hadn’t been getting their period for months. End of story. (Not unlike Danica’s mom who said, “You girls make such a fuss about everything. You menstruate, then you don't. End of story.”)
Other moms had more of a flair for the dramatic and had cautionary tales to tell. Both Heidi and Patrice had moms who used their voices and got all hands on deck to help them handle their hot flashes. Melanie’s mom warned Melanie’s husband to “buckle up!”
Some friends who were still living at home while their mom went through it remember it well, not only for the intermittently freezing temperatures of their houses, but for the hormonal mood swings (which, as teenagers, they should have recognized)! To the point where my friends Katherine and Kerry are scared of the mood swings they assume are coming for them. (Although, I have a feeling that when you’re going through it you don’t think of it as having mood swings, but rather that you’re finally speaking your mind, like you should have all your life!)
Some of my friends didn’t have helpful moms, but did have older sisters (or in Lorraine’s case, her abuela) to shed some light. Unfortunately, I’m the older sister, and believe me, I’ve freaked her out. Of course just today she freaked me out by telling me that she hasn’t had a period at all in 3 months since going off the pill. I mean, I know the world is unfair, but if my 4-years-younger sister stops getting her period before I do, I’m gonna have an issue! And that can happen. It’s a thing. It just better not be my thing!
I was surprised at the number of my friends whose moms had had hysterectomies which obviously immediately changed their menopausal trajectory. I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised…apparently 1 in 3 women in the US will have a hysterectomy by the age of 60!
Finally, there were indeed some friends whose moms remembered, but as it turns out, your mom’s past menopausal performance is not indicative of your future menopausal results! Elke, Megan, and Carmen all had fruitful, detailed conversations with their moms about their experiences…and then proceeded to have very different experiences. As Danielle said: Everyone is different.
Of course I just want to know whyyyyy? What is the evolutionary purpose of perimenopause in the first place? Which is, amazingly, still not widely understood. But certainly and even more so: What is the purpose of women having individualized perimenopausal experiences which make it harder to identify, treat, and get through?
The result of my crowd-sourced research on moms, menopause, and memory? I’m certainly not alone. But whatever your experience is right now, I’m guessing you are not alone either! Happy Mother’s Day to you and your moms, whether they have minds like steel traps or rose-colored glasses that blur their menopausal memories!
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