Quite soon after I became a ‘single lady’ last year (it sounds so much better when Beyonce puts it like that) I changed my bedroom around. I got rid of the ‘extra’ bedside table so I could move my bed to the wall and make more space. I got rid of the ‘extra’ wardrobe and bought a gorgeous vintage writing desk on ebay. (it sound so much better when we say we buy things on ebay). I bought a roll of vintage wallpaper and covered my chimney breast in the beauty of blossomed hummingbirds (it sounds so much better to say just one roll as if it is a show of design restrain, but it’s really because I could only afford one roll.)
It is MY bedroom… even though the children very much see it as an extension of theirs.. they sleep in it (when oh when will this stop??), get dressed in it, do their hair in it, and occasionally raid my wardrobe and prance around the place in high heels in it. So perhaps it’s ok that despite the hankerings to be a grown up private room, it is cluttered with the chaos of childish things: painted pottery of unicorns and pigs that I was given as mother’s day presents, notes and cards of love and devotion, hair bobbles, their dirty knickers, and even a mouldy apple core (found the other morning behind my curtain).
One of these child-centred things is a large fabric M that hangs on the wall beside my bed. It made complete sense of course to a child who wanted to give me a present, as the M represented everything I am to them – Mum. It didn’t occur to them to get an A……a person with a name, a desire to sleep and a growing collection of books that never get the attention they would love. M is what I am to them, as it should be for now. So sometimes as I lie awake in bed, sleep swapped for gazing in wonder (and irritation) at a sleeping child beside me who kicks me at regular intervals, I stare at that M, wondering what word it means for me that day. It’s surprising how many things that M can represent. In my twenties it meant Magic and Mystery and Men and Mistakes. In my thirties it was about Marriage and Mortgages, and Maybes and Babies. And then into my forties it’s all about Motherhood, Mayhem and Middle Age. Wait, What??? Arrgghhh! How did I go from Martini girl to Mid-aged woman? And one M leads to another. The M word that makes me pause. The M that is creeping up on me and making me mentally measure my morphing body and circumstances and mindset.
M can mean Monster (sleep deprived or otherwise). Or Mad. Some days I want it to mean Mutiny and Must I (really, another meal?) and when a little person sneaks in at 1am, a Must You? But it also probably means the other M word.
Menopause. I’m not there yet, but things are afoot. Yes, the rogue chin hairs, the random periods, the curry and wine belly that won’t deflate like it used to after a day of Nutribullets, the extra vicious hangovers, the saggy bits, the waggy bits, the baggy bits… all those things wrapped up in the other M of misery – Middle Age. Somedays I feel like putting an F up there beside it. With three asteriks.
M is for middle age and menopause. Ho-bloody-ray.
I’m 46 with a close peer group ranging from 40 to 60 and so we’re either waiting for it, stepping our toes in it, plunging right into it’s depths, tentatively drying ourselves off, or have marched back up the beach, defiantly stretching out our new fertile-years-are-over-how-exciting-I-can-dedicate-all-that-energy-to me wings. I thought I was very much in the first bracket, but I think my toes are wet without me realising.
I’m not afraid of the menopause – it’s just another part of the hormone rollercoaster that starts at puberty. In fact, there is a part of me delightfully anticipating a few decades of not being controlled by haphazard hormones and not having to apologise regularly for my moods. If I’m going to be a plate-throwing madwoman, I’d like to take full responsibility for it. I have three kids, and absolutely don’t want any more (lovely as they are, I feel obliged to add) and to be alive at this stage of the game is exciting enough. 150 years ago, I’d be knitting myself into the grave. But it is a confusing time. I’m still young at heart and mind, but my body is showing signs of wear. And it’s so much harder than it used to be to patch it up.
In the last month alone I have downloaded a 21 day Yoga body transformation course, bought running socks and even worn work-out gear on several occasions. But the only working out I’ve done is working out how many glasses of wine I can drink of an evening without triggering the oh-fuck-why-can’t-I-drink-anymore hangover. I mean really? You give us wrinkles, chin hairs, saggy belly’s, monthly madness, bad eyesight, hot flushes AND an inability to drown our sorrows without paying for it?? Mother nature is a glorious woman, but damn, she can be a mean bitch at times. Maybe she’s having an M day.
A bit like life, I never quite know what’s going to happen next with my body. I try to treat it like a temple but more often I still treat it like a supermarket trolly: chuck everything in it and hope I can make something that looks good out of it at the end of the day. I buy the creams, I download the yoga course, I swear off the wine, but you know, some times I look in the mirror and just see Me. Merry, manic, mercifully too old to give a shit, muscle-challenged, motherly, mentally stretched, mindfully overwhelmed Me. A good reason to open the Merlot.