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Facing Menopause With Daughters Going Through Puberty

Photograph by Phillippe Diederich

Being an older mom brings with it experiences you didn't anticipate. One of them is that at 52, I'm going through menopause, while my daughters are on their journey through puberty. This has both advantages and disadvantages and some gray area in between.

On the one hand, it means we're all experiencing constant mood swings, so I get it when my eldest is happy one moment, teary-eyed the next. But it also means that when we both have an "off" day, it could spell trouble. That's when we clash. She tells me I don't get her, and I retort that when she's my age she'll understand.

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One of the symptoms of menopause I'm experiencing is extreme fatigue and it usually hits me when I least expect it. So while I may have promised my girls that we will go paddle-boarding, if I'm hit with an unexpected bout of exhaustion, I tell them I need to take a two-hour nap. To them I'm being lazy.

But then when I have a surge of energy and clean the house from top to bottom, that's the one day they're lounging on the couch watching TV, to the chant of, "Mami, I'm tired." Of course at that moment, I feel they're being sloths. It irritates me to no end.

When my eldest gets her period, she often curses it. She'll tell me, "I hate my period!" I tell her to embrace it because one day, like me, she will miss having it. She will pine for that familiar monthly cycle — that upsurge of hormones that drives you a bit insane, followed by the relief of having your period, which restores your energy and your sanity. At least you can count on that.

I want my girls to know that I understand what they're going through because I was once a budding young woman myself. Kids seem to forget that.

The good thing is that we talk about it. My daughters ask me about the patch I wear on my belly. That's estrogen, I explain. It helps me not have night sweats and hot flashes. We talk about the progesterone I take at night. It helps me sleep and keeps me calm. Together, they replace the hormones lost during menopause that cause everything from extremely dry skin to extreme moodiness, palpitations and so much more.

I want my girls to know that I understand what they're going through because I was once a budding young woman myself. Kids seem to forget that. But I also want them to get a glimpse of what they may expect when they're older. They teach them about puberty at school, but where is the class about aging?

I wish I had been taught how to deal with the changes in life, and while growing pains and aging gains (that´s how I like to think of this stage of life) are different, they also have a lot in common.

I tell my girls that being a woman and going through our different stages is challenging, but it's also a wonderful adventure. We are the bearers of life. And although my reproductive days are over, I look forward to the day — if they so choose — when they will be mothers. I hope they'll explain the female cycle to their daughters. And that when they arrive at menopause themselves, they will remember everything I tell them now and understand it is just another phase of life. Not better, not worse — just different.

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