Growing up, the only thing that came close to an open discussion of female type issues was the book "Are you there God it's me Margaret". I read this book because, well, I basically read every book I could get my hands on and my middle name is Margaret. So, that worked for me. The school nurse did come talk to all the girls in 6th grade but we mostly giggled our way through the conversation.
So, the big first female mystery of life came into my life as a bit of a surprise.
But then that happened and it became less mysterious except for the part where I had a really good cry about once a month as a teenager but I just thought that was all a part of growing up.
After we* go through that it seems like we begin to expect that things are not going to be exactly as they have been spelled out for us. We are all unique. Different events in our life affect us differently. This is certainly the case in pregnancy. We can read books, go to classes, talk to other women, and yet the personal experience of it all still catches us a little bit by surprise.
I thought that after childbirth the only other thing that we really don't talk about would be menopause. We sort of talk about it and there are resources out there but we don't really talk about workable solutions. It is sort of another mysterious curtain that we will all pass through and then what?
BUT I WAS WRONG!
It happened to me this last weekend. Which, I suppose, is pretty good because it is the beginning of spring and for some women this has been going on since the fall.
MOTHERS OF GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
For some reason this past weekend I uncharacteristically snapped at my youngest child in a particularly mean way. Words just came flying out of my mouth and as I heard them reaching maximum velocity there didn't seem like anything that could be done to stop them. This happened the evening after we drove through the campus where he will be attending college and he was going on and on about all of the things he is looking forward to doing when he gets there.
I am a mom of not only 2 graduating High School kids but they are our youngest and they both have suitcases in their rooms packing up getting ready to move on to their next adventure.
We hear stories of "empty nesters" but the dirty little secret that we don't talk about is the Senior Year experience. For many moms this is a roller coaster of a year. We are excited for our kids because this is definitely the most fun year of their entire High School experience. We want them to have the best year of their lives and we want them to go on to bigger and better things from here. We want this. But it is still painful because it means that these amazing people who have blessed our lives for the past 17 - 18 years will be moving on to a world that we can only hope they are fully prepared for.
I was talking with my soon to be graduates and apologizing for flying off my broomstick when my daughter said something amazing. Very casually, like it was not a really big deal, she told me that she had heard about alot of moms being uncharacteristically mean to their high school seniors.
This, apparently, is a thing.
We love our kids. No doubt. But there is a painful internal battle we are having with letting them go. And so, instead of talking about it with other moms we snap at our kids. If we don't keep this in check we send them off into the world thinking "wow! I am glad to get out of there".
But, I may be wrong. This may not be a thing. We don't really talk about it. In conversations last year with friends who had graduating seniors, they mentioned the pain but it was almost an aside. We don't want to dwell on it because this is supposed to be a joyful time. We are proud of our kids and we don't want to add any stress to them thinking they have anything to do with the reason we are becoming big balls of emotion. That's the mom in us. We want to take care of everyone else first. And surely, this is only happening to me and it would be embarrassing to share such a weakness with other moms.
So, I am here to tell you that I love this year and I hate this year. I am happy and I am sad.
But now that I recognize what is going on it is easier to deal with.
On to what's behind curtains #1, 2, and 3: Empty Nesting, grey hair and Menopause....
I hope there isn't anything else out there that we aren't talking about.
* I use the word We in this post instead of I in hopeful optimism that I am not alone.