Monthly Archives: September 2011

Toot-a-loo, Tampons

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Decisions have never given me much trouble.  In fact, I find most decisions liberating.

I’ve decided about college, career, husband, babies, houses, investments, plotlines for novels, and one of the biggest of all: a mother of the bride dress.  But for the life of me, now that I’m finished with periods, I can’t decide what to do with my leftover tampons.

Tampons are turning up everywhere: in purses, drawers, suitcases, book bags, bathroom closets, glove compartments, jewelry boxes, coat pockets, junk drawers, and the oddest place of all, the bottom of a snow boot.  I’ve been depositing them in the upstairs closet in a lovely blue bowl.  What a collection!

I considered a tampon-burning, but that seems a bit harsh. After all, tampons have rescued me on many occasions.  I thought of giving them to my daughters, but the girls like another brand.  Shelters welcome donations of feminine products, but they prefer new boxes. I could give them to a still-menstruating (yuck-I’ve always hated that word) friend, but it might be awkward handing over a zip lock bag bulging with tampons.

So this decision has not been made.  No matter what I decide, I’ve got a happy choice ahead of me.  Let’s hear it for the liberty to make decisions, and let’s hear it for tampon liberation!  And for you younger women still madly tucking tampons here and there, be of cheer, at least tampons are liberating you from what your great-grandmothers went through.

Story Sharing: It’s fun to share our Most Embarrassing Tampon Stories. Please post!  Mine was as a 25-year-old school librarian.  I spilled my purse and an eighth grade gentleman picked up the contents for me, including several tampons.

Photo:  I purchased this pretty bowl from a North Carolina potter at our annual Hog Day Festival here in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Ah Skin, Ah Youth

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There’s something sad about a mother who is jealous of her own children.  That’s not me.  If my children succeed where I have failed, I celebrate.

The girls got better report cards than I did—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls made varsity sports and I didn’t—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls went to their Senior Prom and poor old me did not—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls can read maps, are techno whizzes, and know how to use eyeliner—Happy Mother Check Marks.  I could go on and on.  Check. Check. Check.

But the other day, I was looking at Kath’s complexion.  She swears she is getting wrinkles around her eyes, but it would take a mega magnifying glass to find them.  Her skin is beautiful.  In fact, hers might be the skin older women praised me for forty years ago.

Bad Mother Alert!  Jealousy reared its nasty head and flashed its green eyes.  Jealousy tried to leap into her body and make that skin mine. But I stopped it in its slimy tracks.  Motherly pride prevailed.

It’s my turn to do the admiring of young skin.  This concept has taken a while to settle in, and I’ve had to squash my jealousy on a few more occasions.  Now every time I see skin worth trading an entire fall wardrobe for, I give that young lady a Happy Mother Check Mark, no matter whose child she is.  (And if I’m feeling extra motherly, I remind her how much younger I might look now if I had not let myself get suntans in my early years—It’s true; we used baby oil!)  Aging with grace includes embracing and championing people in all stages of life, especially the young–beautiful skin and all.

The portrait is Kath and Laura’s grandma, my mom, Nancy Wenger Kiehne, as a student at Duke University in 1944.  It was painted by one of her boyfriends.  She had lots of them.  Ah youth.

It’s Okay, Ovaries

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I could feel an ovary trying to decide what to do.  One hour, I sensed the familiar and oh so annoying twinges that meant ovulation was on its way (followed by two weeks of PMS in her various forms). The next hour, all was quiet as if they were finished.  So one day, I decided to start talking to my ovaries.  Yep, talk to them.  I think impending menopause was confusing them as much as it was confusing me.

“Thank you,” I told them.  “The babies were darling.”

“Thank you,” I said a little later, “but now you can rest.”

They needed to understand that their work was done.

My older friends kept telling me that once you get through it, menopause is great. No more PMS.  No more periods.  And so I decided to egg on (pun somewhat intended) the providers of the eggs.  I wanted them to know they didn’t need to keep producing the little buggers.

And I wanted them to know I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the memories of those babies and for the years of their growing up, but mostly, I’m grateful for right now.  Adult kids are cool.  Life in your fifties is too.  Ovaries that are going zonky are not.

They finally got the message to quiet down.  Every now and then, I still talk to them to say, again, “Thank you.”

The egg cups are from my husband Cliff’s childhood.  His mom, Vivian Younger, served him soft-boiled eggs in them.  Hooray for eggs (of all kinds) and hooray for mothers!

The Roller Coaster Ride

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I’ve always loved roller coasters. I first rode them with my dad, then my friends, then my husband, and then my daughters (who are much braver than their father when it comes to the upside-down variety).

But I sure don’t love roller coaster emotions.  When they started, I kept blaming whomever or whatever I thought I was grumpy about.  But soon enough, I realized that if you despise the hall wallpaper one minute and adore it the next, this might just be the roller coaster of menopause.

This blog will feature my reflections as I dipped and swooped and rattled and screeched through menopause. I’m hoping my experiences, musings, and innovations will connect with you. I have a hunch that some will and some won’t.  That’s fine.  Although my goal is to be a menopause friend, more than anything, I want this blog to spark your own reflections and responses.  After all, it’s your menopause!

Of course the best solution to menopause and lots of other conundrums in life might just be a ride on your favorite roller coaster.  If that’s not practical, which it often isn’t, close your eyes and pretend.

You can even let out a scream or two.  But remember, when you scream on a coaster, it’s a happy scream, a scream in celebration of your courage for getting on the ride in the first place.  So celebrate those roller coaster emotions as you celebrate all that makes your very own life, including menopause, the greatest, wildest, best ride in the entire park.

Younger Women:  Although I’ve always enjoyed talking to women older than myself, I wish now that I’d listened more carefully.  Life goes fast.  A cliché but oh so true.  With each post, I hope to include a few thoughts for you.  I promise not to preach, although my grown daughters might say that’s not possible.  And for those of you so far into the Great Pause that you don’t even remember what “every twenty-eight days” means, I hope the topics I touch upon will be insightful and fun for you, too.

Everybody, once I get Friend for the Ride really rolling, I plan to post two to three times a week.  I also hope to welcome guest posts. And please, please, I welcome comments and lots of discussion.  Thanks so much for reading my very first post!