It has always bothered me that menopause isn’t called womanopause. I mean who’s doing the pausing here? I’ve heard about all the hot flashes, night sweats and mood changes that accompany the loss of fertility. Why doesn’t anybody talk about the pause part? I think pause should mean – pause - stop and ponder.
Growing older is not what I expected. I mean I used to think old people were old people. We’re not. Older people are just regular people in old bodies. We stay pretty much the same inside as the years go by but the body goes south. Life is so much shorter than I thought it would be. I think we’re more likely to learn something along the way if we take the time to contemplate what our experiences have taught us.
Once I was sitting next to Emily Watts at a Deseret Book Time Out for Women. We were both on the program and waiting to speak to a large gathering of women.
“They’ve got me billed as the one who’s giving the mother talk,” I said turning to her. "I’m not comfortable appearing to be some kind of expert. I mean, what to I know? I don’t feel like I really know anything about being a mom.”
“Yes you do,” she answered. “Think about it.”
And so I did.
Thinking about it is the part I’m interested in. By the time we hit our fifties, most of us are inching up on the tail end of the crowded years. For the first half of our life we hurried around like Martha taking care of all the needs in our family and the universe. Now it is time to be more like Mary and choose more carefully the better part. Raising a family is a lot of hard work interspersed with moments of indescribable joy. If we don’t take the time to share our dear and not so dear motherhood experiences, the younger moms coming up through the ranks will think they are alone. When new moms lock arms with old moms we are a formidable force for good and much cheaper than therapy.
We spend the first half of our lives acquiring and accumulating. We spend the last half unloading and thinning out. We come to understand less is more. We spend the first half of our lives wishing everybody would leave us alone so we can get something important done. We spend the last half of our lives trying to get those same people to come back because we realize they are the important part.
Menopause ushers us from a fertile time for our bodies into a fertile time for our minds. We are given our bodies back, though a little wider and sporting a C-section scar or two. Now we’re asked to see what we will do with a seasoned heart. That’s why we’re called grand mothers. We don’t have to give birth any more or be the disciplinarians – just the lovers. That’s what makes grand parenting so grand.
Motherhood follows the same cycle of life as in nature with spring time, summer, autumn and winter – each following the other in an eternal round. Whether we’re starting out or ending up, we all have something valuable to offer each other. We start out feeling like we’re giving up something more important to raise children and end up realizing raising children is the important part. We start out thinking we’re sacrificing our personal development and end up realizing the process of learning to love someone is the ultimate road to personal development. We quite literally find our self when we lose our self. In the end we come to know that everything that matters most is sitting around our kitchen table. And that’s something to pause and think about.