Subourbon Mom


Crossing the Shaky Bridge to Middle Age

Women of a certain age joke about menopause all the time.

“If I had a dollar for every time I get distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.”

“I don’t have hot flashes, I have short, tropical vacations.”

“Menopause – it’s a thin line between love and homicide.”

This happens…that stops happening … and thank God THAT doesn’t happen anymore (you can Google the symptoms – it’s not secret knowledge, despite what our mothers’ generation thought).  I always thought that knowing those things made me have a pretty good handle on it, mentally.  My kids are grown and I’m definitely ready to kiss the whole period/PMS thing goodbye.

So, when mine stopped happening, I diligently started counting down the months until the magical 12-month mark with no period – then it would become official.  I’d be in a new stage of life that didn’t involve trips to the store because I ran out of tampons and packing extra underwear to take to work and on vacations (just in case).  I was looking forward to emotional stability, sleeping through the night and becoming the wise old matriarch I am destined to be.  I was even getting used to this new, fatty swim ring permanently hanging over the top of my pants, no matter how many sit-ups I did.

And then, at 11 months and 3 weeks – I got it again.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I was at the finish line, looking official Middle Age in the face and she laughed, said “Bitch, please,” and drew another 365-day line in the sand.

A couple of nights later (and one emergency trip to CVS for supplies), I dreamed I was pregnant (I’m not).  And in that dream, I was very upset.  I cried and wept, feeling angry and betrayed and trapped. I remember wailing “I don’t want to be 70 when my kid graduates college!”

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It took me a few days to process what was  happening with that dream. I finally realized that even though my body decided to have a last laugh or last gasp, whichever way you want to look at it, in my mind I had already moved on.  I’ve raised my two wonderful daughters and experienced  the joys and agony of watching them go through the ages and stages. I am ready to start a new phase of life.

That’s something the OBGYN, memes, Facebook and even your friends probably don’t talk about – the mental and emotional adjustment of menopause. I’m sure most women feel it is liberating, devastating, or some combination of the two, but we just don’t talk about that part of it.

Memes are way funnier, let’s be honest.

But eventually you either embrace or resent this new phase of life, this new you. You come to terms with it, or if you don’t, society will most likely not be very kind to you. There will be a lot of pursed lips and head shaking when you show up in your Daisy Dukes, 4-inch wedges and bikini top at age 60, no matter how in shape you think you are.

On the surface I was annoyed, but deep down getting my period again shook the fragile estrogen bridge (made of HRT pills and a secret stash of Midol) I was clinging to, as I tried to cross the chasm between youth and middle-age.

Bridge1When I look behind, I see a thinner version of me chasing my children, arranging play dates, juggling work and parenting and a busy social life, and generally burning the candle at both ends without a thought. I see Hubby working hard and picking up the slack, leaping into the chaos when he got the opportunity, and juggling the same crazy things.  It’s a busy, almost frantic life back there, and I get tired just watching them. When I look forward, I can see the other side, at least what we’re told is there: great, worry-free sex, wisdom, acceptance of certain physical flaws and changes that actually celebrate the life of a woman.  I see Hubby and I standing together watching our girls make their own way in the world, their own families, their own memories.  I see us figuring out this new existence together and connecting in a new way.  I see us being the team we were in the beginning.

And I realize that I’m looking forward to getting over this bridge, despite the bottles of Aleve, the moments of missing what used to be, and the memory losses that are already starting to peek around the corner at me.

So, another 365-day countdown begins. Now, if only I could remember where I put my calendar….

 

 



Treadmill Tourette’s & Other Winter Exercise Hazards

After walking around all winter grumbling about how I hate the way my stomach has started moving independently of the rest of my body, I finally realized I was actually going to have to do something about it.

I was going to have to start…dare I say it?

Exercising.

And even worse… Eating Better.

So I did what I always do when I realize Virginia winters don’t require the amount of extra insulation I’ve been building up.  I tried a few things, and quickly realized my intentions do not match the reality of the situation.

Intention: I am trying to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day and limiting bread to get more good carbs and limit the bad.
Reality: My body went into a fiber-induced shock. Apparently, granola is not everybody’s friend, at least not at first.

Intention: I am limiting alcohol – and by that I mean I am only having drinks Thursday through Saturday. (Some folks asked me “why include Thursday?” Well duh…because Thursday is “Little Friday!”)

Little Friday

Reality: Middle Age takes care of some of that desire; I now have a whole list of drinks that make me have hot flashes, so I’m definitely weighing my choices more carefully – is it really worth having to change out of my sweat-soaked my PJs at 3:00am to have that glass of wine? Nope.

Intention: I bought a few Clean Eating and exercise magazines to give me inspiration and ideas.

Shape CoverReality: They make me feel like I am being healthy without actually being healthy…until I look at the 20-year-olds in the pictures who clearly have never had children and don’t sit in an office cube all day like a veal. I also refuse to spend a lot of money on special spices and high-end oils that those Clean Eating magazines seem to demand. And, I have never once tried any of the exercises in the fitness mags – mostly because I couldn’t follow the diagrams any more than I can put together anything that says “some assembly required.”

Intention: I am regularly exercising at the office gym, mostly doing ab work and cardio to get the weight off as fast as I can.
Reality: Running on the treadmill comes with two hazards I wasn’t expecting:

1. Watching my reflection in the windows as I run makes me unbalanced – I had to grab the rails before I shot off the back of the machine like a sweaty, horizontal human waterfall;

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2. I thought my new cheap headphones were mildly electrocuting me every few seconds, until I realized that in the winter treadmills acquire a lot of static electricity.  So, every 3rd or 4th step I had to slap the metal rail with my hand to prevent the static zap from reaching my headphones and inner ear.  I don’t know what the people walking by the gym window thought, but I’m pretty sure I looked like I had a case of Running Tourette’s.


Intention:
 I am going to look awesome in a bikini this summer.

Bikini
Reality: I will once again spend too much money on a conservative tankini that my mother will approve of.

 

Vintage bathing suit

 

But in the meantime, I’m going to be burning those extra calories flailing at the metal treadmill rails – maybe those expended calories will turn into that bikini body I remember. Or maybe they’ll just let me eat that extra helping of summertime happy hour appetizers.

 



Moving Super Powers

A year ago I never would have thought I would find myself standing in the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning, cooling my feet off on the cold tile. Gone are the days of  worshipping those cold tiles after a night of drinking.  This sin’t the only thing that’s changed. The first couple of times I woke up in a light sweat, I thought, “Right – this must be what menopause is like.”

Yeah….about that.

These days, I am enjoying the lovely combination of night sweats, which now include a literal puddle of sweat nestled between my collar bones, feet that feel like they’re on fire (hence the time I now spend standing on cold bathroom tiles.) and a racing heart that I am currently attributing to stress of moving to a new house and a marketing campaign at work, but which I have been informed can be a symptom of menopause as well.

article-2637654-1E24A1AA00000578-184_634x421But at least I’m not on FaceBook at 2:00am. That’s the kiss of death for me as far as menopause is concerned. When that hapens I may as well throw in the towel and start shopping at J.Jill and Hallmark for everything (if you don’t know what J.Jill is, you’re not there yet).
So I was standing in the bathroom topless (because my shirt was too wet to keep on), cooling off my feet and eating a granola bar, when it dawned on me:  when you are trying to sell a house while still living in it, you gain some serious Moving Super Powers:

  • Your heightened vision can spot the tiniest crumb on the new carpet in the house you are trying to sell;
  • Super Ears hear the cats at any time day or night as they scratch and paw in the kitty litter box, sending showers of gray litter all over the floor that you will have to vacuum up later on;
  • Your Super Nose can detect the last thing anyone cooked – especially when there’s the possibility of a showing the next day – even something as bland as a peanut butter sandwich has a lingering smell;
  • You can vacuum, dust, and load and empty the dishwasher faster than flow of money hemorrhaging out of your bank account;
  • And, you can simultaneously sleep (snore), review your massive list of things to do and have an anxiety attack at the same time.

Superman and Wonder Woman were definitely over-rated. I bet Superman and Wonder Woman never found themselves in the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, unsuccessfully trying to silently open a granola bar wrapper while putting on a dry pajama top right-side-out. And I’m pretty sure they never had to coordinate the movers, stager, helpful friends and family, utility disconnection, and getting the garage door fixed.

I’ve got Moving Super Powers, baby – I’m invincible…except when my feet get hot.



Drive-Thru Mammograms: Moo-Thrus

I was reminded the other day that I am way late on getting my mammogram done—y’all, getting older sucks.  Seriously, there’s got to be a more comfortable way to look at our mammory masterpieces.  Thanks to Obamacare (which I think has done great things for people with pre-existing illness, by the way), I’ve been counting my pennies and choosing carefully which medical events are most important. In my field research, I’ve found more inexpensive ways to get a mammogram done.

The best way is to drive to your local library and use the mechanized drop box that looks like an ATM. Our county’s libraries recently got new ones—here’s how they work. When you drive up, the shelf is exactly at the wrong height, no matter what kind of car you’re in.

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If you’re in an SUV, you have to hang your body half way out the window because you have to be so far away to accommodate the return book conveyor belt. Then you smush your chest on your window as you reach for the buttons to operate the damned thing. If you’re in a sedan or God forbid, a hybrid, you have to climb like a monkey up to the right height, squishing your chest on the drop box ledge to get your books up there.

Side note: Someone please tell me—why is it an option to get a receipt at the library? Are there people who don’t want a receipt in case there is secret information that someone might use against them to rack up a bunch of late charges?  Just print the thing off without making me hang my torso out of the car like a crash-test dummy to press another button.


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Another good place to do this is at your local ATM.  Same principal applies, but the reverse is true for cars—ATMs seem to be made for SUVs.  I was driving Hubby’s sedan (excuse me, he would emphasize it’s a SPORT sedan, even though it has 4 doors), and realized the car mirrors are at exactly the wrong height–they would smack into the front edge of the ATM if I got any closer. I had to back up and pull in again (much to my mortification) so I wouldn’t hit the machine. Then, I had to stretch up to reach the buttons and grab my stuff, once again smushing my chest exactly like they do in a mammogram.

If mammogram folks were smart, they would partner with library drop offs and ATMs to do a combo-service, taking a picture as you went about your business.  A week after you visited the ATM or library drop-off, you would get a notice in the mail informing you if your mammogram was normal or not–receipt optional.

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Granny Panties–Tevas of the Underwear World

When-Girls-Talk-About-Their-Underwear-Boob-Etc_c_100783Recently I was in the “library,” thumbing through my Bathroom Book of Facts, when I came upon one that sparked my interest:

“The average American woman has 27 pairs of underwear.”

I thought, that can’t be right. There’s no way we have that many, even if you include Date Night panties, the inevitable Granny Panties, and the “Hell no, I’m not wearing those. I don’t care if you got them in Vegas.” Since I like to do research, I decided to

1)   survey my own stash of underwear;

2)   survey how many my friends have; and

3)   see if there’s a difference in the number men and women have, since the book didn’t mention it.

Surprise! I have exactly 27. Nice to know I’m perfectly average. But when I counted up the three categories, I was surprised to find I only have 8 cotton everyday Jockeys, and 2 Granny Panties; but, I have 17 Date Night pairs (I’d already gotten rid of the “Hell No” panties years ago). Very strange (and depressing) since I pretty much only wear the cotton Jockeys every day.

Taking the advice of many women’s magazines, I made a decision to try and wear a Date Night pair every other day and see if I felt sexier, even though nobody else would know. (I didn’t say anything to Hubby, since I knew he’d never leave me alone if he knew what I was wearing). The result? I didn’t really feel sexier, since I instantly forgot about them unless they started crawling up, which they inevitably did. Polyester and Lycra are not my friend. (Side note: The Hanky Panky thongs are still the only ones I will ever wear, and they didn’t crawl up, since they were already there.)

When I asked my friends about their supply, I learned four things:

1)   most of my friends are around the 25-30 mark—I like to think of this as a sign of optimism, unless the Granny Panty pairs are outnumbering the Date Night Pairs;

2)   the younger the women, the more they had (teens-25 had pairs numbering in the 40’s)—I attribute this to the number of times they change clothes in a day;

3)   men have significantly fewer pairs—also attributed to the number of times they change in a day, and the fact below;

4)   men and women categorize their underwear very differently.

Apparently, most men only have about a dozen, no matter what their age or athletic/work habits. And they categorize them into Regular and Exercise groups. No mention of how they want to look in front of the ladies…hmmmm…no Date Night pairs, fellas? Just a shave and some cologne and you’re all set? Well, at least you’re not being presumptuous.

girl-and-men-underwear_c_709218So, I’ll continue to wear the Date Night underwear, if for no other reason than now I won’t have to do so many loads of whites to keep the cotton stash at the ready for gym days. For those of you with a disproportionate number of Granny Panties, don’t give up! Just because your hips have spread out to balance your bottom, which dropped somewhere below Antartica in recent years, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to wear sexy underwear. It does mean you need to get properly-fitting underwear with the sticky stuff along the edges to hold it in place—check out Soma for those in regular woman sizes.

For you men, thank you for keeping the laundry loads down with your minimalist purchases; and thank you for buying that “Hell No” underwear a few years ago, even though our bodies were clearly past looking good in them–it might have made us mad initially, but secretly, we were pleased you still saw us that way at all!

PS–when I was looking for pictures of underwear online, I came across some that were hysterical, but that I could never publish here.  If want a giggle, just search for funny underwear pictures.




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